Thursday, August 20, 2009

Move Review: District 9

So all of the buzz circling around Distric 9 since it's release has been incredible. Tweets, status updates, blogs, and blurbs have all been raving that District 9 is the movie to beat. One said to "drop what you're doing right now and see District 9." All this being said, I went to see the movie with much anticipation.

To borrow from one of the best movies of all time, "This is Spinal Tap," if everyone is saying that this movie goes to 11, I would say that it only goes to a 10. Although the short review would have me say, Black Hawk Down with aliens.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of excellent things in this movie. This is the feature film debut of star Sharlto Copley who plays Wikus Van De Merwe (pronounced Vikus.) Sharlto turned in a wonderful performance of the mild-mannered, wanting to impress his boss and provide for his family type character only to be caught up in a movement that was larger than life. He really surprised me because when you first see him you think he's only going to be on screen for a short period of time but you soon learn that he is the main character and its a fact that makes you happy.

Additional strengths were the special effects. I mean it is Wetta, but still a sci-fi movie just always has the chance to go into "too cheesy mode." (Has anyone see the awful looking CGI for the Werewolf in the New Moon trailer?) That aside the aliens in this movie look phenomenal. The alien ship looks real. The alien weapons are amazing. District 9 is worth seeing alone for the electricity gun. ELECTRICITY GUN.

The one area of District 9 that made it so that it did not go to 11 is this: District 9 left a lot of loose ends and assumed that the audience knew as much as the characters. The point of the movie is that the aliens have been on Earth for 20 years. The movie we are watching is a documentary of how conditions and relations have evolved over the past 20 years. Therefore every character we meet within the film has 20 years of experience living with aliens on the planet Earth. That is not something we in the theater can comprehend as we have not experienced it.

However District 9 is presented as if we do have the same experience. There are so many opportunities where District 9 could have been given a little shot in the arm by explaining one or two things a little better. A little bit here and a little bit there makes for a lot of bit by the end. I'm talking about the "slice of life" moments as my one professor used to say. Example: Prawns are addicted to cat food = brilliant. More stuff like that, but there isn't a whole lot.

Let me attempt to illustrate the point by using the movie The Matrix. One of the most unique and revolutionary aspects of The Matrix is that the audience learns along with Neo. There is nothing that Neo knows that we don't (except Kung Fu.) Neo must analyze and process information about the matrix, agents, machines, sentinels, jacking in, Zion, the Oracle, etc at the same exact moment as the audience does. This is brilliant because the matrix is a foreign concept/world to the audience.

The world/concept of District 9 is even more foreign. There are aliens and it takes place in Africa. Even if you take out the aliens there is a lot about African culture and sub-culture that is just as new to most audience members but it is only lightly touched upon. I think just that a little bit of fleshing out could have helped bump this movie to 11. But this one little misstep aside, it still is a solid 10 and is definitely worth a watch.

Agree? Disagree? Let us all know by leaving a comment!
Also, after I posted my review, I found this review on Twitter....maybe I'm more qualified than I thought...

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