Tuesday, January 27, 2015

District 9 (2009)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I saw District 9 in the theaters.  I had been hearing a lot about how new and different this movie was.  I’ve found that rarely do movies live up to such a claim.  However, I love a good science-fiction movie, so I decided that this would be one of those movies I shell out $10 for.  I’m not saying that it was the wrong choice, but I’m not saying that you missed anything if you waited, either.

The movie opens with footage of an alien spaceship hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa.  At first, humans didn’t know what to make of it.  The ship was just hovering in place.  There was no communication or attempts by the aliens to leave the ship.  So, humans break in to the ship to find a bunch of aliens.  (No surprise there.)  The actual name of the alien race is never used, as their language is as different as their appearance.  (They look and talk like giant insects.)  Humans use the derogatory term Prawn.

The Prawn just want to go home.  For unknown reasons, their ship can’t take them back.  This doesn’t mean that humans aren’t interested in the ship or its technology.  A company called MNU wants to use said technology, but can’t; it’s been engineered only to work with Prawn DNA.

Humans don’t want anything to do with the actual Prawn, so the Prawn are condemned to live in a series of ghettos called districts.  This is where Wikus van de Merwe comes in.  He’s your everyday cubicle dweller that’s just been promoted.

He’s been put in charge of telling the prawn that they’ve been evicted and are being relocated to District 10.  Wikus has absolutely no empathy for the Prawn.  He has no problem going in and destroying the eggs of unborn Prawn only because their parents didn’t get the appropriate permit to have children.  He’s also searching the living quarters for any contraband.  In so doing, Wikus accidentally sprays himself with some sort of alien chemical, changing things for everyone.

In case you haven’t seen the movie yet, I won’t ruin the rest of it for you.  There’s no point in doing that.  I will say that the movie did seem to have elements in common with other movies.  True, aliens are nothing new.  Even the idea of aliens stranded on Earth is nothing new.  We have Alien Nation for that.  Maybe I’m just trying to detract from the movie, but while watching it, I kept thinking of other movies that used a lot of minor details.  As a whole, the movie is new, or at least a new combination of said details.

The movie is, ultimately, about how we treat those less fortunate.  Wikus represents the attitude of not caring, even when looking right at the Prawn and seeing what we make them go through.  That doesn’t change until he becomes an object of attention, and even then, he’s still looking out for his own interests.

This is where it’s hard to condemn the movie.  It does have a great script and is a story worth watching.  I don’t know that I would have seen it in the theaters again, but I definitely think it was worth watching.  Yes, there is a possibility of a sequel, but I don’t know if that was the intent.  I really don’t know how a sequel would work, but I’d definitely be interested in seeing it. 

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