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August 15, 2009 / jadettman

District 9

Britt and I went to see District 9. If you haven’t yet, but intend to see it yourself, you will probably want to wait to read this one.

So, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when we drove down to our usual Rockford theater to see this one. I mean, I knew it was about aliens on Earth after their spaceship arrives over Johannesburg. I knew that there was an alien slum/shantytown where the aliens were segregated and poorly treated. I was still not quite prepared for what I got.

First, the main character is not all that sympathetic. For that matter, there just aren’t that many sympathetic characters in the movie. At all. The alien that we spend the most time with may qualify but I’ll have to think about it some more.

This is just intended to be a first impressions kind-of-a-deal.

I’m going to start over, actually.

First, the trailers we got before the movie made me wonder if we were going to get up and leave before the movie finished. The movies previewed were Halloween 2, Saw VI, The Final Destination, Zombieland, Legion, and Surrogates (something else also, I thought, but I can’t seem to remember what). Surrogates was the only trailer that made sense to me, given that we’d gone to see what (I thought) was a SF movie. Clearly, we were not the target audience.

Once the movie got started things seemed to head in the general direction expected. Large alien spaceship hovering over Johannesburg , impressive-looking CGI aliens, and some corporate nonsense for the ruthless capitalist efficiency.

Judging the human race through the lens of this movie, we are horrible, hateful monsters. That said, a lot of the movie’s backstory makes terrible, logical choices that make complete sense in perspective.

  • Of course, we would quarantine and eventually segregate aliens if they were to arrive on our planet. If they looked like giant bugs, that would be doubly true.
  • Of course, we would want to take the alien technology and make it work for us. They can travel across interstellar space! The movie focused a little too much on weapons for my taste (interstellar travel!) but the tech angle made sense.
  • Would it be difficult t understand and sympathize with creatures that looked like giant bugs, seemed pretty dumb, and couldn’t understand concepts like money and property? Yes.

Even given that, this movie is bleak. Desolate, even. The humans we see act despicably. Really, I was horrified by what I saw in the first 30 minutes of this movie. Eventually, when it turned into a ridiculous action/heist movie I was at least entertained by some special effects.

– – – – –

Damn, I make the movie sound terrible which it isn’t. The movie is . . . interesting.

I think it requires further thought.

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One Comment

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  1. Britt / Aug 15 2009 7:36 pm

    It’s Alien Nation, but remove all references to “racism” and insert “genocide.”

    The humans were evil shitheads, because we’re evil shitheads to *each other*, and the not-too-bright buglike aliens never stood a chance against our evil shitheadedness. Like I said on the way out of the theater, that’s *exactly* how it would actually go down. A dab of the best of intentions diluted in gallons of natural xenophobia with a sprinkle (okay, more than a sprinkle) of greed. Voila! Disaster.

    Unfortunate that the brutally honest backstory was essentially just a backdrop for a big ol’ shoot-’em-up, but it kinda nice to see the bughunt convention turned on its head, so you’re rooting for the bugs.

    And I think the main character was awesome. Not because he was likable or sympathetic, which he wasn’t, but because he was so very human, until he began to be alien, at which point he became discovered humanity. (It’s deep, man… deep.)

    I look forward to the sequel. Three years later: “Oh no! Oh, God, no!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!” <—- This is us wishing we had gotten over our shitheadedness long enough to notice our vast technological inferiority.

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