District 9

Date Fri, September 4 2009

DIST9_TSR_1SHT_3We saw District 9 last night and, admittedly, I wasn’t super excited to see it but we both wanted to get out of the house.

To summarize, without giving away too much information, the movie takes place in modern times and, for the last 20 years, humans have been hosting aliens in something of a refugee camp in Johannesburg. The aliens arrived, malnourished and mysteriously and, after breaking into the ship, humans tried to assist them. Over time, the treatment has turned increasingly militaristic to the point where the camp is a slummy prison. Add to this that the aliens seem aimless and have essentially come barbaric despite their apparent intelligent, and you have one tricky situation. The citizens of Johannesburg have become restless because of the alien occupation as the aliens have become more and more destructive.

In steps, MNU, a private military contractor to deal with the situation. The plan is to relocate the aliens to another refugee camp, away from the city but, in order to do so under cover of the law, they must serve them with eviction notices. Introduce Wikus van de Merwe – as played by newcomer Sharlto Copleyas, who is sometimes reminiscent of Christian Bale – the manager of the relocation operation. Althuogh initially excited by his promotion, the turn of events soon has him running from his former employers and seeking assistance from the only option left – an alien.

Confused? Wondering what the hell happened to the movie you saw in the trailers? I was, too. I expected aliens versus humans, running, hiding. In short, terror. That wasn’t any of that here, nor was is really an action movie. Actually, there was running but only from humans who, as usual, showed off their ignorance and brute status exceptionally. So, if you’re not a fan of movies which portrays humans in this manner, then you might skip District 9. I, on the other hand, found it a pretty realistic portrayal of what might happen in such an unrealistic situation.

And there was some action;Ryan says most of the movie was action but I think it was kind of slow and I just wouldn’t call it an action movie. And it definitely wasn’t as scary as I expected. Oddly enough, the beginning was something of a documentary.

Despite my overall confusion and the shittyness of the trailer, I actually quite liked this movie. I felt Wikus’ frustration at his predicament and the betrayal by people he thought he could trust. I felt for the alien, “Chistopher Johnson”, and his worry about his own race and, more personally, his son. I thought Sharlto Copleyas did a good job at playing your average guy, stuck in the middle of a situation completely out of his control. He was believable as a real person in desperation.

On the other hand, despite my fondness for Christopher Johnson, the aliens were frequently cheesy and comical. Others in the theatre laughed at several points when I had the distinct impression that the creators of this film never intended for it to be comedic at all. The same could be said for MNU’s mercenaries for hire, led by a violence-loving colonel (whom, I believe, is played by Robert Hobbs), is also laughable. I never really felt as though Wikus was in a dire situation which was inescapable and my emotional attachment to the character, while existent, was shallow at best.

While I found District 9 to be interesting, mostly because of how it looked at humanity and Sharlto Copleyas’s realistic portrayal of the main character, it is by no means a blockbuster. Still, it’s much better than many movies I have seen with Ryan and was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours of my evening.

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