Friday, August 21, 2009

Why I sincerely do not like District 9, but can appreciate it anyway.

My best friend, Tiffany, came down to the Queen City to visit for a couple days. I love the movies and saw that District 9 was at the top of the movie charts and had dominated Twitter topics for the last week. What the heck, 10 bucks for 2 movie tickets is not a bad deal. I decided to buy into the hype and see this movie for myself. I love the movie for its social commentary, but I have to air my grievances first. (Happy stuff at the end, I promise)

First problem: The movie is too slow. I did not really get into it until it was mostly over.

Second problem: I could not connect to what the movie was trying to do or the characters. The filmography started off like a documentary and the camera followed Wikus in a way similar to Cloverfield. However, in the middle of the movie we are led to believe that Wikus is not under camera surveilance at all times. Trying to make this distinction while the camera was still in documentary mode made the movie feel choppy and disconcerting. Finally, the aliens are called discriminately called "prawns." I was hoping for the documentary aspect of the movie to not give in to prejudice language at the end and only refer to the "prawns" as "aliens" or "extraterestrials." (But I will concede that point to nit-picking)
Third problem: The movie is set in South Africa which was also participating in apartheid during this time. Maybe they replaced the natives with aliens in order to show that time in a new light, but the choice, I feel, tackily revisits that situation and can make the audience feel like such drastic separations can only happen in places that have historically done so. It would have been a much more moving comment on humanity's intolerance of others if this had happened somewhere else with a less current segregation history. (I must admit the only country that comes to mind is Canada, but that's just ignorance on my part)

Fourth and final problem: The characters are unrealistic. If I am looking for somebody in a grassy field, I am not going to drive up to the field, get out of the car, look around within five feet of the car and then drive away. Also, I have a hard time believing that Wikus could not simply ride with Christopher and waited his three years out of harm's way.

First Merit: I know I sound like a broken record, but the social commentary is great. Humans, as a culture, struggle with deciding what organisms are and are not important. I particularly liked the scene where the MNU torches the building filled with baby aliens without any second thought and that adult aliens can only have children with a permit. The main military antagonist admits to his love of killing the aliens mercilessly. And, expect to have no human value if you experience some type of genetic enhancement that could change the world. You're cruel painful death is for the benefit of mankind.

Second Merit: I could connect with the alien protagonist. He cared for his species and his offspring. He was knowledgeable about the law and savvy enough to find a way to get home instead of staying in his situation.

Third Merit: The graphics were very realistic. The mother-ship was not shiny and super high tech. The missing piece was equally dirty. And I can totally believe that it would take twenty years to get enough fluid to make the trip home.

Overall, very original movie, but I do think it could have been much better