Aug 152009
 

It’s about freaking time.  No motherships were downed with a Mac.  No ragtag group of scrappy human resistance fighters reconquered the Earth.  No evil aliens out to steal our water or women or plutonium.  There were no clear winners in this film.  I am so glad to see a science fiction film that treats its audience as capable of forming their own opinions, seeing what is on the screen and drawing conclusions that don’t have to be spelled out with an awl and sledgehammer to the head.

I have a strange craving for cat food.

What I love best about great scifi and fantasy, the stuff that isn’t just a fun read but is literature, near poetry, is that it gives us a world in which we can peer into and that world is invariably a mirror of sorts.   We can empathize with the people we meet in these worlds, we can see in them something of ourselves, the people we have met and the societies in which we exist.   The villains aren’t driven by a need to further the plot and the heroes harbor their own flaws. These are some of  the standards I hold great books to.

As a film, District 9 approaches these standards.  There are no clear answers, we are left to fend for ourselves and imagine what may have gone on before and what will go on after.  It’s going to be a movie I’ll be thinking about for some time.

It somehow also managed to be a damned good action flick at the same time.  It is fairly gory, in a Saving Private Ryan kind of way so be forewarned if that’s not your thing.  It is a bit suspenseful but for those who aren’t into horror movies, this is not a scary film.  You won’ t be hiding behind your hand or jumping out of your seat.

The Prawns don’t stun in their looks, they exist naturally in the world of the film and as effects, they’re not flashy.  This is CGI done right, not to show off how much big iron you can smoke in rendering scenes but as a tool to further the story.  The technology is gritty and real seeming, the acting is spot on and I’ll be damned if this isn’t the best movie I’ve seen this year.  They are alien enough to seem . . . alien yet we can empathize with the Prawn Christian.

Sure, there are flaws.  A few of the peripheral characters are a shade two dimensional.  Was Christian a bit too human in emotion?  I’m undecided.  it would be hard to empathize with a squid sitting in a puddle and it’s easy to do so with a puppy.  Theater goers need to be able to identify with the Prawns in a way that doesn’t make them out to be conquerers of worlds or humanities downfall.  Clearly they are not.

There are a few holes that I found in the over all plot.  But nothing gaping and nothing that would not want to make me go see this again.  You don’t have to be a fan of scifi to get a lot out of this flick.  If you are a scifi fan though, you’re going to love the hell out of it.

From IMDB:  Thirty years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa’s District 9 as the world’s nations argued over what to do with them. Now, patience over the alien situation has run out. Control over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-National United (MNU), a private company uninterested in the aliens’ welfare – they will receive tremendous profits if they can make the aliens’ awesome weaponry work. So far, they have failed; activation of the weaponry requires alien DNA. The tension between the aliens and the humans comes to a head when an MNU field operative, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. Wikus quickly becomes the most hunted man in the world, as well as the most valuable – he is the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology. Ostracized and friendless, there is only one place left for him to hide: District 9.

[tags]review, district 9, first thoughts, movies[/tags]

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

  2 Responses to “District 9 – First Thoughts via a late night stream of consciousness”

  1. Thanks for a sound review even if it is first thoughts. Glad you mentioned I wouldn’t have to hide behind my seat at the scary bits lol.

  2. Excellent review, Ben! Saw it yesterday. It’s gratifying to see Peter Jackson involved (albeit only as producer) in a use of CGI that (as you point out) genuinely serves the story. This ain’t King Kong (if anything, District 9 shares the grittiness and realism of a film like Children of Men, which I also loved.)

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