Skip to main content

Review: District 9

Some years ago aliens crashed landed in Johannesburg. Despite their insistence that they were there in peace, officials deemed it necessary to contain them on Earth. Soon, the "prawns" as they are named, are relocated from their ship to a camp below.

Citizens are outraged that the prawns live so close to their homes and a group is assembled to move the aliens once again. Should they resist, mercenaries with flamethrowers and guns will assist them. Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is a blissfully unaware bureaucrat set about earning his way up the government ladder by evicting the "prawns" from their reservation in Africa.

Whether it was a matter of hubris, or irony, while casting aliens out of their homes, Wikus contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. Once that information spreads, Wikus very quickly becomes the most valuable man in the world, as well as the most hunted. In his DNA lies the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology that could make some arms manufactures very, very wealthy. Fighting for his life, there is only one place left for him to hide: District 9.

One of the aliens, named Christopher Johnson takes pity on Wikus and attempts to help him regain his former form. Johnson is not one of the mindless droves chasing cat food from local markets. Through Christopher Johnson and his son we are able to see past the unfriendly appearance of the "prawns" and sympathize.

Quickly the audience discovers that in the quest for gaining unimaginable wealth from selling the prawns' technology that we have become less human than the beings we are trying to exterminate. District 9 is unusual, in it's approach of setting the viewer on the side of the aliens. Sure E.T. was also pro-alien, but not to the extent that one roots actively for the destruction of man.

Like all good science fiction District 9 gleans real-world implications from the allegory onscreen. If the conflict captured verite-style between aliens and humans seems reminiscent of the horrors of current immigration woes, it's not a coincidence. Director Neill Blomkamp put it there deliberately, however the allegory is sometimes too on the nose.

More frustrating is that Blomkamp's film transitions from sci-fi to mindless action flick during the film's third act. It is too bad that Blomkamp didn't continue along the lines of District 9's first two acts instead of venturing into Michael Bay territory with pig-launching robots. Still, District 9 is worthy of the adaptation from short film to feature.


Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…