Sunday, January 03, 2010

District 9

This movie got a lot of great reviews and wound up on some year’s best lists. I’m sure you know the basic plot: alien mother ship shows up hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa, but the ship seems to be broken down, the aliens are pretty much helpless, and the South Africans take them in, segregating them in a camp known as District 9, where they become a permanent, exploited underclass. Then the South African government decides to relocate the prawn, as the aliens have come to be known, and hire an evil corporation (is there any other kind in movies?) to take care of it. From there, you guessed it, Things Go Hideously Wrong.

When we first started watching this movie, with its oh-so-serious, shaky-cam, mock-documentary style, I thought, “This is just dumb.” I have a hunch that if you really started taking the plot apart, it would still be dumb. But I admit, I got caught up in the story before it was over, although it’s so shamelessly and blatantly manipulative that I never quite got past being irritated by it. I mean, come on, couldn’t they have given the alien kid an alien puppy, too? The filmmakers pushed every other button, didn’t they?

But the acting is excellent, especially the guy who plays the lead, and the action scenes are well-staged. The sight of the mysterious mother ship hovering over Johannesburg is pretty impressive. DISTRICT 9 is a very violent and bloody movie, so much so, in fact, that after a while the violence becomes rather cartoonish and is hard to take seriously.

So mark me down as having mixed emotions on this one. I think there’s enough good stuff in it to make it worth watching, but I also think it has enough serious flaws that it’s nowhere near being one of the year’s best.


Mark Terry said...

Well, I know I'm very much in a minority here, but I took my 16-year-old son to see it and we walked out early on and went to rewatch Harry Potter down the hall. Part creepy, party irritating, and partly something I wasn't comfortable watching with my 16-year-old. I've since downloaded it to my iPhone, so I'll eventually watch it, but I'm ambivalent about it.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Just saw this last week and wasn't that into it. Almost bailed thirty minutes in and ended up finishing it. I thought it was a bit cliched and while shot a bit differently was a typical premise and plot.

Makes me wonder why so many people raved about it.

Brian Drake said...

I enjoyed the movie for the social commentary but I didn't understand how that alien goop could not only power the broken space ship but also transform the lead character's DNA. That was too much of a stretch for me to take, and made the rest of the show a bunch of noise.