Saturday, August 29, 2009

District 9

"Prawns" have a strange affinity for cat food and rubber. An odd diet for an alien species that resemble their seafood moniker both in appearance as well as reputation (as bottom feeders). Their spaceship first appeared in the skies above Johannesburg, South Africa two decades ago. After months of waiting, contact was finally made. The aliens were in a sad state of malnutrition and severely disoriented. After relocating the colony to a ghetto located beneath the ship, their numbers quickly multiplied to nearly two million. Their idea of fun is our idea of havoc. They quickly wore out their welcome.

So what do you do with a colony of aliens that seem to be worker drones who are easily duped into anything? Other than their ability to create weapons, which are biologically engineered (meaning they can only be fired by fingers that contain alien DNA...they really have no purpose than breeding, scavenging and causing problems. Of course you have the Nigerians who exploit their ingenuity for weapons they cannot use...and the government, who conducts endless experiments...but life is pretty drab. That is, until a relocation effort gets under way, spoiling the plans of the one mastermind hidden among the race.

Throw in a do-gooder (Wikus Van De Merwe, played by Sharlto Copley) who works for the government and is tasked with creating the legal mechanism for the relocation. Through a series of mishaps, Van De Merwe ends ups up needing the assistance of the conniving prawn mastermind. The two team up to take on both the government and the Nigerian posse who all have an intense interest in our lowly G-Man, Wikus. The action-packed sequences the two engage in end in an anti-climatic final act that left me scratching my head.

It is hard for me to complain about the writing in a film when it includes concepts that haven't played out a hundred times elsewhere. Although this film borrows from others before it, the look was fresh and felt original. But there were huge problems with the plot, the most glaring being the fact that I felt cheated. The abrupt ending seemed to point toward a sequel and failed to tie up loose ends. But, if you accept the film as the beginning of a trilogy, then the sudden ending might not be so bad. But there were other problems. You have weapons that are useless to anyone but an alien. The warlord collecting the alien weaponry seems to be a bit consumed by the creatures which could explain his exploitation of the aliens for weapons that are junk to him. But that plot line often felt contrived and stretched to its limits. The idea that the prawns were capable of creating such intricate weaponry, as well as the immense intellect of the main alien character seemed contradictory to me. I had a hard time accepting the major elements of the plot.

The dialogue was interesting, largely because of the excellent locale chosen for the backdrop. The rich dialects were showcased at times, in a documentary type narrative that sometimes included sub-titles for the odd inflection and cadence of the actors (as well as the alien clicking...which reminded me of the dialect featured in The Gods Must Be Crazy). Although the dialogue was rich, the characters were rather flat and predictable. Wikus was quirky and interesting, but beyond his part, the rest were boring.

Read More About District 9

1 comment:

Film Gurl said...

Interesting take on some of the aspects of the film, always good to get another point of view. I agree with the look, it was definitely original. While watching the movie, I could sense that maybe there would be a sequel. Overall, I enjoyed it. I enjoy reading your blog, it's simple and very easy to follow! :)