Rachel's Blog: District 9

Tue, 08 Sep 2009

Cheapass Tuesday and I only had time to see one movie. My first choice was The Young Victoria, but it wasn't showing during school hours. So it came down to Inglourious Basterds and District 9. I kind of want to see both, but ended up choosing D9 because it's shorter. Short attention-span is short.

Loads of my friends have already seen it and they all raved*. "Awesome!" they said. You're all wrong, my friends.

It's an OK kind of movie. The effects are fine and believable. They've put heaps of thought into making the aliens ("prawns") both hideous and anime cute at the same time. I wasn't put off by the violence (I had to stop eating at one vomitty point, but I got over that). But blah to the characters and erg to the story.

Yes. We get it. It's about apartheid. It's set in Johannesburg just to make sure we don't mistake the forced sensation in our throats for a bit of stuck popcorn. Aliens have arrived on Earth (why and where from is not explained) and are put into a temporary camp in South Africa for 20 years.

And after that? Well there's this completely uninteresting guy and some stuff happens and his opinion of the aliens is changed 180 degrees. And That Is All. There's maybe half a sub-plot given to the main alien character, Christopher Johnson, but he isn't anything more than the dude with the MacGuffin.

The uninteresting guy, Wikus, is married to Tania, and although he does stupid and cruel things without question as part of his work, we are supposed, I think, to like him because he makes little tchotchkes for his wife and calls her Baby. He calls her Baby a lot. It's irritating. As is the lack of explanation as to why anyone would marry such an idiot.

The documentary style (to heighten the Theme - do you get it yet?) creates distance from the main characters, making it even harder to empathise with this blah person, but is then confused by the switch in POV when stuff actually happens. A good chunk of the film is just undisguised exposition, by people actually talking to camera ("interviewees"). Boooring.

I got really antsy watching District 9. It felt longer than it was and the denouement was twee.

Three out of five black bilious vomits.

*Except Richard. He knew ;-)

Comment by Ben on Tue, 08 Sep 2009

I haven't seen it but it's good to hear a different perspective on it.

Comment by Dave Cake on Tue, 08 Sep 2009

This is one of those reviews I both agree with and disagree with, because a lot of the things you disliked about the movie I think are true, but were things I liked about it. I liked that Wikkus was basically a fairly unremarkable human being (thrust into odd circumstances), and I liked that he was the sort of person who thought of themselves as a reasonable person while doing cruel and unfair things as part of his work (that is always the sort of person that enforces oppressive state policies like apartheid), I liked that he thought his love redeemed him as a person when it clearly didn't, I liked that his relationship was a bit stupid and unrealistic (like so many are). Yes, he was an idiot, but I've met an awful lot of married idiots, so that seemed pretty realistic to me.

I didn't think it was an awesome film conceptually, but I think it did a really good job of applying different film techniques to a pretty standard action SF film plot, and I thought the characterisation of Wikkus was pretty good.