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.
THE PULP CALENDAR: December 3
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