District 9 (****)

From Wikipedia

Apartheid—meaning separateness in Afrikaans (which is cognate to the English apart and -hood)—was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times, but apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into racial groups (black, white, coloured, and Indian), and residential areas were segregated by means of forced removals. From 1958, Blacks were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands or bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of whites.

Good movies about Aliens expose some of the worse traits and weaknesses in humans. They also highlight how we have redeeming qualities. Movies that move people to tears are a lot more common than movies that make you feel uncomfortable. I dislike violence towards children of any form, even when it is just simply alluded to. District 9 is a very violent movie and not for people with weak stomachs, certainly not for children.

I have huge issues with shaky camera work. I understand the realism that it tries to convey, but that was one of my biggest concerns going into this movie. I have really bad motion sickness when it comes to movie and video games with crappy graphics. I discovered how bad it can be from a movie after watching The Blair Witch project. It protected me watching Cloverfield, but this movie had a trailer that made me curious enough to want to watch it. So when some friends put a movie and dinner night together and when they offered this as one of the movie choices we jumped at the opportunity.

I am not a Peter Jackson fanboy. I did love LoTR but disliked the horrible mess that King Kong was. District 9 more than makes up for it and really becomes a feather on his cap on making things that are not real seem very believable.

The movie begins looking more like a documentary. The main character is someone that you cannot quite like or dislike. It almost feels like he is being set up to die any time. It is hard to tell when or if there is a transition from movie style to documentary and back. It feels voyeuristic at moments but then in a second you are immersed into the story.

The movie is social and political commentary at its best, but the most important commentary in my opinion is about humanity. If you like history you will see highlighted many of the atrocities that humanity has committed on itself, the kicker for me was how easily justifiable this becomes once humanity is removed from the equation. It is sad that still in this day and age so many topics from the genocides in Africa to immigration people so easily remove humanity from the debate.

Our ill fated “hero” begins partaking on the removal of aliens from District 9 to their new more concentration camp like location, District 10. The aliens just showed up one day, and after neither doom nor salvation came from their mother ship we broke in to find out malnourished people that became earths refugees.

Everything that is wrong with people “relocation” in various forms in our world was highlighted during this part of the movie. From the dubious legality of “property” to the arrogance of talking down to people that do not understand “our” system. It was specially graphic to see that killing other beings was a matter of stepping over the bodies and picking up the pieces of your fallen comrades.

Then a single event highlighted by stupidity by the main character sends everything in motion. From that point forward the supense and action don’t slow down until the end.

The acting which at first seemed very weak ends up being the right tone for everything. We do sound that stupid when discussing things we either don’t care about or don’t quite understand. As humans we are lazy enough to be spoon fed information and take it as reality until the moment it affects us directly. While there will be no Oscar performances here, it fit the movie perfectly and did not detract from the story.

The CGI work was some of the most amazing I have ever seen. I never once thought of CGI the whole time I was watching the movie because everything was a working part. One small spoiler is that after watching this movie a Mech Commander movie HAS TO BE MADE! We now have the technology, somebody make it happen.

This movie is so good and has so many different elements from psychology, international affairs to history that I could probably put a curriculum together and teach a whole semester just based on everything it talks about. Not everyone is going to love this movie because it is very grotesque at times, but I highly recommend it. You might want to learn a thing or two about human history after, if anything it will make you think about how “human” we are.

5 Responses to District 9 (****)

  1. I am really looking forward to seeing this.

    As I haven’t yet, I haven’t yet chosen a side in a certain debate about the movie. That is, is it social commentary wrapped in scifi, or scifi that has aspects of social commentary. Some of my favorite films (and TV Programs) of this genre have the same issue. For instance BSG and Blade Runner have both tackled the race/species issue among others. They make you think, which IMHO is good.

  2. Thanks for the review darlin. I always look forward to them.

  3. What I found really interesting about the movie when I read an article about it last week was that there was very little scripting. It was mostly improvisation on the actors’ part, which may or may not have been a contributing factor to your assessment of the acting skills involved.

    Also, the director is brand spankin’ new at this feature movie thing. Previously, he’s only been known for directing (apparently amazing and award-winning) commercials and short films. Seems interesting that he’s likely to be as successful as he will be now that this movie has been released!

  4. Dude,

    You should write for the Wall Street Journal. I hadn’t read a better movie review. I’m glad I saw the movie though the little lady didn’t like it. Lucky for her I will probably never see it again.

  5. I liked this film but didn’t love it — I think my expectations were already too high from others that thought it was the best thing they’d ever seen. I do think the acting was great and the effects were well done, esp. for a small budget film (and esp. since we’d just seen GI Joe with a bunch of horrible effects). But overall, I thought the plot/story was fairly predictable.

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