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22 August, 2009

District 9: The Good Review

Due to some rather less than positive blog posts from my good friend "The Film Geek" I thought I better step up and defend District Nine. Not that it needs much defending. If you have read any of the hype, it's mostly all true. I'm even going as far as saying this is one of the most important Sci-fi movies of the decade.

The plot is fairly simple. Aliens have landed on Earth and we have treated them like crap. They live in a slum area called district nine but are being "upgraded" to another area outside of the city because, frankly, them Earth folk don't like them kind around these parts. The obnoxious man leading the operation is the main focus of the film.

I've seen the movie referred to as a "mockumentary" but this is misleading and inaccurate. Sure, there are parts filmed like a documentary but it's a device used to fill us in on some of the back story without having to painstakingly reveal it all. It also sets up expectations and some intrigue for how the story will play out. Basically, you are hooked in the first few minutes without really knowing why.

There are several things I really enjoyed about this movie. The story was engaging and I like the style in which it was told. Not just the regular camera style of Independence Day, nor the shaky, hand-held camera style of Cloverfield but a kind of "best of both worlds". Also, just when you thought it was all story and talkie, the actions begins and the adrenaline starts flowing. All this, and the movie didn't have to rely on half-naked sexy women to sell it for even one moment.

Another bonus was that the protagonist was interesting because he developed and grew during the movie. He made uncharacteristic decisions for the "hero" and it was hard to predict what he would do, even if you may have predicted the outcomes.

I said that this movie was "important" at the beginning of my review and I call it that for three different reasons. This film demonstrates that great sci-fi movies can be made 1) on a budget, 2) outside of New York,LA or London and c) without the need for a big name super star or director.

District 9 gets a big double thumbs up for me, and a raised weird tentacle hand.


The Film Geek said...

Good post. You ALMOST made me think you believe that! :)

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Ripley said...

One of the many reasons I liked District 9 is that it reminds me of what Sci-Fi is supposed to be. It goes back to the roots of literature evolving with the industrial revolution and how "progress" changes society for both good and bad. Hollywood has forgotten that great Sci-Fi is not about outrageous stories and far-out futuristic fantasies, it's about cause and effect of something new and how society reacts and uses the new technology or discovery.

Ultimately, a good story has to involve human nature. After all, science fiction in essence is a vision of the consequences of present day.

The leading man in this film is an ordinary corporate yes man. He's a bit of a goob and takes his job a bit too seriously, but he's believable. If aliens ever land on earth, everyone involved in the encounter (especially if it spans 40 years), is not going to be leading man material. To dislike this film because Will Smith, Harrison Ford or Tom Hanks, etc., didn't star in the leading role means you've lost your imagination and open-mindedness.

Granted, I knew this wasn't a big budget film going in so I wasn't expecting a mind-numbing special effects extravaganza. However, I still found the effects engaging and like the grungy feel of the film instead of the easier Sci-Fi route of disctracting glossy and high-tech environments.

The story was realistic because it's probably how mankind would react to having an immigration of aliens. They'd isolate them and try to profit from their existence.

I liked the originality of this film. I didn't read any of the reviews because, frankly, I don't care what professional reviewers think of films. I'm more open minded when it comes to film and judge them on their own accord. As soon as you start comparing one film to another, you're proving that you want to be disappointed and go against the grain.

venus said...

The story was realistic because it's probably how mankind would react to having an immigration of aliens. They'd isolate them and try to profit from their existence.

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Sean Weatherby said...

That new lead actor they found for District 9 did an amazing job i thought, huge transition through the course of the movie; sometimes it's nice to see some new faces and that was definitely the case with this movie