Thursday, August 20, 2009
So I went to catch the super-hyped District 9 on Friday night, and let me say, what a surprise. When I heard that the movie was going to be some sort of metaphor for some history crap that happened in South Africa, I yawned. Boy was I wrong.
A quick synopsis of the movie: An alien ship shows up one day in Johannesburg, humans find a bunch of worker drone aliens inside, and 20 years later the aliens are in concentration camps, acting like hobos and eating cat food. The movie is what came to be after Peter Jackson's Halo project fell through, when the studios were apprehensive about giving newbie director Neill Blomkamp the money he needed for the big budget film. I think they may have changed their position after seeing this flick.
The actual story takes place 20 years after the arrival of the aliens, when they are treated like dogs in a fenced off area, "District 9". We follow the newly-promoted Wikus van der Merwe (Pronounced Vickus van der something), who is assigned with presenting eviction notices to the unruly aliens. The movie is set in a documentary format, flipping back and forth between interviews and live action. Think "The Office" meets "Aliens", in which a seemingly slow start turns into a thinking man's stone-cold killer of a thriller.
I won't discuss any actual plot twists and turns, but this movie is stellar, all the way through. The aliens earn our sympathy, and pan out to be rife with a visceral human emotion and conflict. Some of the most powerful scenes take place between an alien father and his son, and some of the cell phone calls between Wikus and his wife are extremely heart-wrenching. Seeing how the aliens are treated really makes you think about how people are treated in some far off corners in the world that seem unreal to us. This movie assures us, these places are VERY real.
If you aren't in to the lame thought-provoking stuff, this movie packs some straight up badass action, and weapons that seem to come straight out of video games. A gravity gun, a lightning gun, and a robotic armor suit (very Gundam Wing-ish) play out to be some of the most believable, intense, and powerful alien weaponry we've ever seen in a movie. I absolutely loved that the weapons wouldn't work for humans, that put a kabosh on any thoughts that this movie was just a Dwayne Johnson style shoot-em up ala Doom.
Overall, this movie gets 4/4 stars from me. I can't wait to see what Blomkamp comes up with next, as he did an incredible job at dropping us into the story, and making us feel familiar with the material. The face to face interviews at the start gave us a sense of humanity, believability, and a gauge of the depth of the film that had me on the edge of my seat from the start.
P.S.-Leave a comment with what you thought about the movie! (or bash my review into the ground, up to you! Careful though, I fight fire with fire.)