Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ticket Stubs: District 9

I'm now writing movie reviews for a spiffy website called I'll repost my reviews here and on Rotten Tomatoes. This is the first one and there are more on their way. Let me know what you think and movies you would like me to review.

I already fear that writing a review for District 9 will be like writing a review for The Dark Knight. Everything that has been said has already been said and will be said again several times. If this movie isn’t going to be insanely popular, I’m officially out of touch with society. (Of course that may have already been proven with ALL OF MY FAVORITE TV SHOWS GETTING CANCELED. No, I’m not bitter.)

District 9 is the story about a big ‘ole spaceship hovering over Johannesburg and how we treated the aliens that were on board. The premise is rather ingenious. Surely the creator had to have heard the phrase “illegal aliens” one too many times on the news and thought, “What if they were actual aliens?” So after almost thirty years in this controlled society, a private company named Multi-National United (MNU) is planning the eviction of the aliens from District 9 to an even smaller slum. Yet, of course, it doesn’t go according to plan but not in the way you would think.

What I found the most impressive about this movie is that it’s masterfully constructed. There is not a wasted moment in this very concise thriller that is bold in many aspects. For what is technically a summer action movie, there are a lot of scenes of emotional and political dialog. Yet the gutsiest thing is easily the fact that all of mankind is perceived as rather vile creatures. Even our protagonist, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlot Copley), spends majority of the first act saying inhumane things with a goofy smile on his face. There are key scenes when I realized I was perfectly okay if Wikus died in some of the action scenes and then in others I sympathized with him. This is not a fault of the movie, but praise.

The movie is preachy, but it doesn’t have condescending sermons. It is very evident what the movie is trying to say about the immigration situation but by having this pseudo-documentary format it is able to be distant from its characters. This allows the audience to decide certain things about the characters. Not whether their actions are right or wrong—For it’s only wrong—but more of how wrong were they. Are some of their poor decisions excusable or even defendable?

Another way the film brings home its message is through the violence. This is a gory movie at times. Several members of my party turned away at gross images and bloody explosions. The movie handled that exactly right. If you want the violence to matter, make it horrifying. The whole film is quite the achievement and is made even greater by the fact that everyone involved are technically amateurs. This is almost everyone’s first feature length film and I know I’m not alone in wondering and anticipating what the director, Neill Blomkamp, and Copley are going to do next. For this is one hell of a debut.

No comments:

Post a Comment