Is this movie Friend or Foe?: District 9

District 9 has had all of the usual markings for a big budget summer sci-fi flick. It had the alternate reality advertising and the internet hype machine churning full speed ahead with buzz all over the web about the film. I have to admit to buying in to some of the hype. I only hoped that I was not falling for the trap of flashy advertising.

District 9 starts off slow, playing itself out as a documentary that sets the stage and foreshadows that something is going to go very wrong. We’re introduced to the aliens, refereed to as “Prawns” (in reference to their shrimp-like appearance), and the unusual situation they’ve been put in. Their mothership stopped working just above the town of Johannesburg, South Africa, and over the last 20 years have been forced into an awkward and inhumane co-existence with humans nearby. As the movie begins, we are told that they are being moved to a new site far away from their current location, so that the people who live nearby can stop being territorial pissants.

We then meet our man who has been put in charge of the operation, Wikus van der Merwe. He’s a tad bit on the clean-cut and nerdy side, though more of the kind that would get excited over numbers on a computer screen than getting mad at comic book characters getting married. As he’s working his way though the alien zone and telling them that they are being evicted and moved to another location, he comes across an alien device, and it all goes downhill from there. And rather than a “dip in quality” downhill, I mean speeding aircraft hurdling through space at warp speed downhill. In other words, awesome.

Main character Wikus makes a “Gordon Freeman“-esque nerd-into-badass hero transition rather well. He does make some rather stupid, “human” moves but you can tell his intentions are for the best throughout. The latter half of the film becomes a human/alien buddy movie, something along the lines of Lethal Weapon meets Another World. There’s also something in there for the B-Movie cheese fans as well, with the gore factor taking it up to a Mars Attacks/Men in Black level of cartoony. It’s obvious that the movie has a political message, and the personification of the “prawns” makes them more human than the on screen actors. District 9 is a film that covers plenty of bases, and well exceeds the expectations of a mindless summer action flick.

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Published in: on August 15, 2009 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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