REVIEW: District 9

18 08 2009

In life, we often fear the unknown; with movies, I embrace it.  I saw “District 9” on blind faith, not recognizing the director or actors and knowing virtually nothing about its plot (credit this to the subtle yet effective viral marketing for the film).  I also saw it in spite of the fact that Peter Jackson, who I consider vastly overrated, was giving it a major push.  The element of the unknown only adds to the suspense of “District 9,” which is fresh and exciting to watch unfold.

The less you know about the movie, the more you will enjoy it.  I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it involves aliens being segregated in Johannesburg’s District 9 that evokes a powerful comparison to South Africa’s Apartheid era.  And Wikus (Sharlto Copley) works closely with the aliens’ situation but will soon get much closer and gain different insight into their presence.

The first half of “District 9” is sublime.  It has power on so many different levels and you will feel it hit you hard in your gut.  The originality and unpredictability is unlike any movie of its kind you have ever seen.  Unfortunately, its second act lapses into your common, banal action flick.  And it is such a shame because it isn’t your run-of-the-mill movie; it is a smart, inventive tale that takes a concept so surreal and makes it completely believable.  Neill Blomkamp’s masterful direction allows us to be so convinced by utilizing a unique narrative voice, but I wish he had stuck to his vision throughout the movie.  But the success of the movie should be equally attributed to star Sharlto Copley, who provides a tender portrayal of Wikus that really hits home.  The film’s visual effects are breathtaking, making the aliens scary and gross, but also allowing the audience to feel some compassion for them.  But what really sets it apart from the plethora of similar movies is its simplicity.  So many science fiction movies feature really elaborate and intricately woven plots, but “District 9” is straightfoward and doesn’t try to hide anything from you.  It lets one event and motivation drive the movie, eliminating a lot of unnecessary confusion and making it quite a bit easier to watch.  Other sci-fi movies that have executed a similar formula to great success are “Alien” and “The Terminator,” and “District 9,” although not a landmark like the aforementioned, is poised to take its rightful place as a classic in the genre.  A- / 3halfstars

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2 responses

28 08 2009
Burf

I thought that District 9 was interesting at first, but I left feeling a bit underwhelmed by the movie. I liked every individual element, but for some reason, it felt like a movie where the movie was less than the sum of its parts.

The second half probably had a lot to do with that, though.

28 08 2009
Marshall

SPOILER ALERT

That’s a nice, succinct way of summing up my grievances with the film. I wish they had left Wikus’ fate a mystery, though. It would have made for a much better and intriguing ending.

SPOILER ALERT

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