Thursday, August 20, 2009

District 9

District 9 is not your average movie.

Of course, that statement comes from the perspective of a guy who pretty much never watches foreign films. No, not because I have anything against them. Mostly just because, the way I figure it, there’s so many movies out there, and they’re so expensive to see in the theater, that you’ve got to narrow it down. You know what I mean?

So I don’t see foreign films. Sue me.

But, again, District 9 is not your average movie. It seems to function on it’s own will and motivation, rather than playing up more traditional sci-fi plot lines.

First off, in the first twenty or so minutes of the movie, it can’t seem to decide if it’s a mockumentary or a traditional fiction story. It flip flops back and forth between people talking about the history of the alien arrival and this guy Wikus (pronounced Vikus) going around telling a bunch of aliens they’re being evicted from their shithole they call a home.

But it sounds like I’m knocking the movie. In fact, it was quite refreshing to see a different approach to the theme of First Contact. Rather than the more American approach of an all out invasion--bombs a-blazing, famous buildings destroyed, millions of people dead, etc. This film approaches it from the angle of the aliens having the disadvantage. But rather than being wiped from the face of the universe, they’re forced into a ghetto and expected to eat our trash.

There’s symbolism in there. Probably. I’m not very good at that kind of thing.

It is good to know that South African film (or at least this film) doesn’t skimp on action. There has to be a solid 20 minutes of non-stop action towards the end of the film. And the special effects are top notch. I loved the perpetual images of the huge spaceship just hanging there over Johannesburg, like it was just part of the skyline.

The best part of the film, however, is in the alien weaponry. Or, more importantly, the special effects delivered by the usage of these weapons. We’re talking human bodies popping like water balloons. You can’t help but chuckle at the effect of it. Maybe you can. But I couldn’t.

Then this guy Wikus, played by Sharlto Copley (I’ve never heard of him), is pretty much the only real (human) character in the movie. He does a pretty damn good job of a guy who’s been infected by some kind of alien tech, slowly turning into an alien, and being hunted by a multi-national corporation for the purpose of exploitation. That’s the plot, in a nutshell, by the way. And Sharlto plays it well.

So, overall impressions…

Definitely worth seeing. Not a perfect movie. But guaranteed to deliver more original content and ideas than anything else you’ll see this summer. Possibly all year.

Unless you watch a lot of foreign films. Maybe this kind of film making and content is pretty common in other countries. I wouldn’t know.

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