Monday, August 24, 2009

District 9 (spoilers)

District 9
Tri-Star (Sony)
Opened Aug. 9

District 9 is notable for being shot almost entirely on location in Johannesburg, a first for a major motion picture release. My South African friends were surprised and impressed, and one pointed out to me how the Republic was a pariah among the nations for decades due to its apartheid system. All the actors were South African--either Afrikaners or black South Africans. Sharlto Copley stars as Wikus ven der Merwe, a friendly, low-key employee of a large, private company, MNU (Multi-National United) that operates the District 9 slum. Wikus reminded me of William H. Macy's character in Fargo because both have powerful, wealthy fathers-in-law who see their sons-in-law as weak. Wikus' physical transformation reminded me of Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.

The eviction procedure that set the plot in motion was a military-style operation, and that's why I found Wikus' poor preparation so troubling. He should have been wearing full body armor and should have left alien contact to the soldiers who accompanied him. The aliens have the strength to project a human 20 feet in the air, and they're just wearing bulletproof vests? Come on. Instead, walking around unprotected and inadvertently spraying the fluid canister is what got him into trouble. He pointed out he didn't know what the canister was except that it was alien; he should have bagged it and tagged it without trying to operate it.

Also, the door-to-door notice could have been accomplished with bilingual leaflets dropped from the air, but I suppose that is beside the point.

The movie didn't make Nigerians look very good, did it? Prostitutes and slum profiteers.

Did the movie suggest that the aliens' planet was dying when they arrived? I missed that part. A slave ship's arrival over Los Angeles in 1988's Alien Nation set the scene for the humanoid aliens in that film living among us. It was unclear whether the District 9 residents would have been permitted to leave District 9 to go home if given the chance.

I'm glad I did not see the trailer until after I saw the film because it really gave away a lot.

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