Sunday, August 16, 2009

District 9

District 9 was harsh, a bit gross, and very, very beautiful.

Granted, that's a strange thing to say about a science fiction movie with crustacean-like aliens, but the story itself was beautiful. It made me really care about the prawns and I even liked Wikus a bit by the end. Just a bit, mind you. It's essentially apartheid told through a science fictional setting, but I think the director does it really well. Go out and see it, if it's playing near you.


Snarky Writer said...

I saw it last night. There were points where it was SO gross I couldn't watch (cat food. Ew.), but overall, it was a really well-told story with believable characters that were neither all bad or all good, but merely doing what they had to do. And at least it wasn't as gross as DEAD ALIVE, thank you, Peter Jackson. ;)

Heidi C. Vlach said...

Good to hear! I've been thinking to see District 9 since I caught wind of the social themes.

Blee Bonn said...

Just saw it last night and loved it! I hadn't even heard of it before but saw that both the critics and the masses gave it an A-, that is unusual so had to go see it.

Jarucia said...

Saw this yesterday and loved it.

It's like the best/worst of Alien (the good one), 'V', and Alien Nation put together.

Plus makes brilliant commentary on prejudices on how we humans simply can't help ourselves when it comes to acting out of fear, stupidity and power trips.

I simply adored it.

Yeah, it's gross in parts and my mother-in-law was queasy for a few hours after wards, but it's such a small price to pay for soundly 'entertaining' movie.

A. Jonathan Cox said...

I thought it was very moving, and also very explodey, but mostly very moving.

Blythe said...

I loved the ambiguity--especially at the ending. I also thought the relationship between "Christopher" and the little one was well rendered. And Wikus might be one of the most interesting characters I've encountered in a long time.

Cantrell said...

Two things about this film that immediately caught my attention:

1. The "exotic" setting. If "District 9" had been set in New York, it wouldn't have been nearly as interesting (or even possible).

2. I liked how the aliens came to Earth, but it was the humans who terrorized them (rather than the typical reversal that you see). I thought this was an interesting and fresh perspective.

A few other points worthy of note:

- The CG was very well done. Usually I'm not a fan of "green screen" films, but D9 was done exceedingly well.

- Did anyone else notice the Halo influences? I recognized the inspiration almost immediately.

- To see what D9 was based on, check out Blomkamp's original, "Alive in Joburg" here:

Hillary said...

This was a surprisingly lyrical movie. Although it was also full of special effects and action sequences, those served to drive the story and not vice versa. This was not merely a vehicle for large explosions, spaceships and gore as in typical summer blockbusters (Transformers, GI Joe, to name two).

hollymc said...

I loved it! Your analysis is right on.

Tochi said...

9 comments in, and I'm surprised (but also not surprised) that no one has mentioned the irresponsible portrayal of Nigerians in this movie.

Three things first of all:
a) I'm Nigerian
b) I haven't seen this movie. My brother and a few other people I know have seen this movie, and they were all disgusted by the portrayal. It would be ideal for me to see this movie before judging it, but obviously I'm not going to pay to watch a movie that disrespects my ethnic group/country. It'll have to wait for a download.
3) I'm a critic. If my less critical relatives and friends found issue with the movie, I'm sure I'll find it even more.

So moving on....

District 9 is getting accolades for being relevant, discussing social themes, etc. But isn't it dangerous to give those accolades when there is irresponsible and disrespectful filmmaking?

This is not making a statement on how good the movie is. My brother still thought it was a good movie. Not brilliant by any means, but certainly better than the weak movies that came out this year.

But when there are blanket portrayals/statements made about an entire group of people, it speaks of weak writing; but more importantly, it's dangerous and stereotypical.

You may read more of Nnedi Okorafor's reaction. She's an American-Nigerian writer published with Houghton Mifflin:

I'm interested to see what some of y'all think on this one. It's the classic case of responsibility vs entertainment.

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

Tochi, I did read Nnedi's response last night. And while I understand and agree with a lot of what she's saying...the movie didn't have the same impact on me.

I can see where it's an irresponsible portrayal of an ethnic group, but when I was watching it, that didn't occur to me.

I know nothing about Africa. I know nothing about Nigerians. I know next-to-nothing about South Africans. I simply don't catch that people are portraying things inaccurately because I don't know what the accurate method of portrayal SHOULD be. I think a lot of other Americans are the same way.

So while I can see that the movie can be offensive to those of Nigerian descent, my only experience with anything about Nigeria is reading Chinua Achebe in AP English. I simply don't have the background to know what is and isn't correct; that doesn't excuse me from not knowing, but it does color how I saw the movie.

Patrice Sarath said...

I found it a very thought-provoking movie but I also categorize it as an ambitious failure. Entertaining for all that, and I loved the characters of Wikus and Christopher Johnson, but I think the moviemakers thought they could get a pass by making a movie about apartheid without actually addressing apartheid. I also cringe anytime moviegoers call the aliens "prawns" -- that's the analog of the n-word or in South Africa, the k-word! Yet see how casually it's bandied about!

Tochi said...

That's a very good analysis, Jenny. And I agree.

I think it's more often that stereotype persists due to lack of knowledge rather than actual malevolence against a certain group of people.

This is why representation in media is key. It ties into that unfortunate racefail discussion that was on here months ago.

I think it's time for minorities, not just Nigerians, to be better portrayed in books/film/etc