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District 9 -brief review

I can't believe I keep forgetting to post about District 9. One of the most compelling and incredible films of the year, if not THE best film I've seen so far in 09.

There are so many layers to this film that it's very hard for me to tackle a review and not feel like I'm doing someone a disservice that may not have seen it. This is one of those movies where walking into it with no preconceived notions is a benefit, as it is also one of those movies that will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

What I can do is give the basic outline (which perhaps anyone could do from the trailer) but here it goes anyway:

Aliens come to earth and their ship drifts to a stop outside of Johannesburg South Africa. After waiting and waiting for "first contact" humans decide to cut their way into the ship. Once inside they find deplorable conditions, sickness, and despair. The aliens are then brought down to the planet in a humanitarian effort to save them (and naturally to be exploited for tech and other goodies). Once here, it is obvious they aren't welcome in much of the city, so they are moved to slums on the outskirts. Control and security of this area is handled by a private firm (like a combination of Blackwater, Haliburton, and Raytheon) who keeps the slum a demiliterized zone. Crime becomes rampant as Nigerian gangs infiltrate the area in an attempt to buy and sell weapons (which only work with Alien DNA much to the chagrin of that big firm controlling the area too) and Sex (Which thankfully they left how exactly aliens are pleasured by human women to the imagination).

That was the very well handled exposition they give you in the first 8 minutes. The rest of the film focuses on Wikus van der Merwe, a rather bumbling mid level company bureaucrat who is tasked with moving the aliens out of the slums and into the equivalent of a concentration camp. He is a contradiction, at the same time both likable and awful. His ignorance to what is really going on around him led me to be somewhat sympathetic to the character, but his actions lead you to despise him and the rose colored world he allows himself to exist in.

They go into the slums in very UN looking vehicles to have the aliens sign their consent to be moved. This is not a legal act and one such alien recognizes this. His name is Christopher Johnson... don't ask, I have no idea.... but he and his son become entangled with Wikus for the rest of the film due to a mishap and resulting cascade of events.

And that's all I will give away of this remarkable film. This is a landmark in Sci Fi and at the same time a fantastic "Fuck You" to Hollywood big budget toy movies and re-hashes. It has all the wiz-bang of sci-fi, with none of the techno-babble trappings. It has all the action and cool tech of a summer blockbuster with a quarter of the budget, it doesnt dumb down for the audience or feel the need to spell out everything. It is a film exploring something as epic as the human condition yet hiding in what appears to be a small story of two people on opposite sides of a fence. Finally, its exploration of interpersonal relationships and family is surprisingly emotional, and one really does find the complexity of compassion for the two big parties involved. There wont be too many that aren't moved by that last frame of film.

Instant classic. My highest rating.


**Edit... One final note... The aliens aren't named in the film. However, a term is used for them as slang. I feel weird referring to them in this way though, so I refrained from doing so in my review.
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Sanjuro
 

From what you write, it reminds me a little (in the area of quality, not plot) of "Children of Men."
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SouthernFriedInfidel
 




Quality of story, yes. District 9 has much better special effects/props, and better pacing.
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Sanjuro
 

I'm looking forward to seeing District 9, although my first reaction from the previews is "it looks cool", but "will disappoint"... I'm glad your experience contradicts this...
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Liv
 





Yeah, I thought the same thing.
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Sanjuro
 

I get a "28 days later" feel from your mini-review?
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Liv
 





Actually no. They are night and day different. This movie has a lot of heart and there is no horror in the least.
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Sanjuro
 

Oh and slight caveat:

I'm sure once "Avatar" comes out, it will make this one look like beer league baseball, but for now this is a gem.
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Sanjuro
 



Children of Men was alright, but it devolved into an action/ shoot-out movie and left the sci-fi behind. That never happens in District 9. As Sanjuro said, the pacing is better in District 9. I saw it yesterday, and as you probably know, I'm a grumpy curmudgeon when it comes to sci-fi. I want more story than action and this film has a good balance. Go see it.
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Nfidel
 

Went out to see this movie today. Holy cow, what a great movie. The changes in the hero's character were so very entertaining to watch, and the twists in the plot were so much fun to watch...

And I have to say, the little kid alien was rather cute... but in a squid-like sort of way. :lol:
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SouthernFriedInfidel
 

I'm glad you enjoyed the film. I rarely recommend someone watch a film without a caveat or two. Due to my love of the bizarre, I'm not always sure for which reason I may like a movie, or a book for that matter. But District 9 just seemed to get everything right.
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Nfidel
 

Well. It seems that this movie is getting some folks from Nigeria upset. Seems that they don't like it that the gangs that prey on the aliens are said to be from Nigeria. Some think this just adds to the anti-Nigerian views that some people have.

Myself, I don't get it.

I mean, it's not like the gangs were depicted as being "typical" Nigerians. And not one of them asked an alien for his name, social security number and bank account in order to transfer an unclaimed inheritance to them...
:think:
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SouthernFriedInfidel
 

Well I finally got around to seeing District 9. Felt is was a bit of 'Planet of the Ood', so unfortunately the concept was obvious immediately to me. I sort of missed out on the shock of the gimmick and second guessed the rest of the movie. While overall I liked the movie, I think they stretched out a concept which could of happened much faster (as it did in Doctor Who) and then moved on to the conflict and the prejudices the barely touched on.
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Liv
 



I've seen both films. While Avatar is a terrific film, I'd have ot give the edge in terms of plot and writing to "District." But only a slight edge.
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SouthernFriedInfidel
 


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