Sunday, February 14, 2010

District 9 (2009)

Title: District 9
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Studio: QED International (2009)

The most disappointing thing about District 9 is that this story was a great idea that was fucked up. You watch something like this and it has such potential but then the stank rises and you know there's no option for a re-do because it was just done. Ugh!

Brief (oh so very brief) comments on what was done well:
  • Excellent job with an authentic anti-hero (course this was jacked by the portrayal of said anti-hero at the end)
  • Decent script without too many cringe worthy lines from one dimensional characters
  • Good directing with amazing cinematography
  • Super rad shot of helos going towards giant - and effing awesome - spaceship
  • Excellent special effects

Now it's time to buckle up because the bad, oh it was plentiful!

Note: Some of these might be considered mild spoilers so read at your own risk.

The first clue of the stink was one of the opening lines when the chosen location of the spaceship was described. "It could have been Manhattan, Washington or Chicago but it chose Johannesburg." Really??? Those are the three cities you thought of? They aren't even the biggest in the world and they're all on the same damn continent, in the same country! Plus, one of them isn't a city.

Then I'm supposed to believe that a population housed on the money of a corporation has to give individual signatures on eviction notices before they can be moved? And then the organization filmed the unlawful way they obtained said signatures? Wha???

Additionally, I could tell from the sentimental close-ups and sincere soundtrack that I was supposed to care for this population but they were most often shown fighting over crap and generally acting buffoonish. Shouldn't the viewer get a few shots of them trying to carry on with daily life? Maybe show me the conditions of their homes or what type of food they have access to? Seriously, they were living in a slum which will generally elicit the sympathy of anyone but you totally skip over this opportunity?

The anti-hero worked pretty well but he was one of the forerunners in the stupid contest that was clearly being held by several characters. While serving the eviction notices he gets sprayed in the face with an unknown substance from an alien looking object. Shortly after, he vomits, projectilely. This is not cause for alarm? You do not need to be checked out?

What the fuck keeps the spaceship in the air for two decades? If this type of technology was hanging up in the sky for all to see am I supposed to believe that it would not have been dismantled for research?

Why can't military trained personnel ever act like professionals? Why must they laugh maniacally and get a gleam in their eyes whenever they can be destructive? They are professionals for shit's sake.

The aliens have some pretty fantastic weaponry. Hot diggity this stuff can do some damage. It's tied in with their DNA, though, so humans can't use it (nifty.) One of the human slum warlords really wants to be able to use these weapons. Let me be clear on WARLORD so that you understand that he is a leader. He also trades in weaponry and has a fucking ROBOT in his house. It's an alien robot but still, he sees it working and knows how weapons work. I'm supposed to believe that this guy actually subscribes to the theory that EATING the aliens will result in his being able to use their weapons? Come on!

At one point, a group of idiots have decided it is a good idea to saw into a patient's chest without tying him down or knocking him out. This is bad enough but it gets worse. The patient is not too keen on the chest sawing (for obvious reasons) and so goes a bit apeshit and knocks a bunch of people out. This whole operation is going down in a secure facility run by a multi-billion dollar corporation and when the alarm is sounded only ONE PERSON responds. wtf???? Then the patient uses a hostage to escape this one person. Yes, you heard that right. We're in a facility where they will saw into someone's chest with no anesthesia but they will not shoot one insignificant medical attendant to retain the patient who is the key to their billion dollar project. Oh, and he's escaping a biohazard facility with alarms, lock downs and armed-to-the-teeth security personnel (well, one at the very least) but he easily slips out a side door onto the street. Again, what the fuck?

My last comment is 100% spoilerish so highlight if interested:
'Member those cool weapons I spoke of above? Well, they are scattered about willy nilly. Not sure how many there are but they pop up often enough that I'm gonna say there's a nice stash available. In fact, one of these stashes is actually in the slum under the care of our lovable but unbelievably stupid warlord. (and let's not forget the robot that is there that can also only be controlled by an alien and contains weaponry upon its person, or robotness... whatever) But what do the 1.8 million aliens who have the exclusive skill of using these weapons do? They hang about in a slum being mistreated by the organization that supposedly cares for them. It also becomes clear that they have superior physical abilities and strength. They can hop on top of shacks and throw humans really hard. So this sitch has been going on for two decades and what is it that finally get these aliens riled up? That's right, it's our very WASPy looking anti-hero, who has "gone native" due to the earlier splatting of the unidentifiable substance in his face, taking control of the robot and using its ass-kicking abilities to shoot the baddies thus inspiring the aliens to rebel against the gun-toting totally-non-professional military jizzwad. Give me a fucking break!

There's actually a lot more that could go on this list but I think you get the point. Nonsensical shit happened in almost every scene. In short, almost total disaster. And again, what a disappointment. This is a great idea for a movie. Maybe it'll get remade in a couple years and they can get it right.

If you're interested in some nice camera work and some good effects then District 9 will certainly fulfill your needs. If you'd actually like an original story or at least a decent story told well then you might want to skip this one. I have a feeling the six minute short film it's based on is probably much better since there's a lot less time to screw it up.

rating: 2 of 5 stars


  1. Rachel, you are hilarious. I liked this movie but was entertained by your post. I don't remember all the details but will say the warlord doesn't have to be smart or a true leader, just more violent than everyone else and forcing them into submission. It's not as if he was voted into office so he could very well be a dumbass.

    As for Wikus, he might not have been the brightest bulb but his humanity really showed through (in the way he talked about his wife) and I thought he was very sympathetic. Kind of like Forrest Gump, if you will---a little slow but sweet.

    But maybe you hated FORREST GUMP, too, and this would just make you think even less of Wikus!

  2. Hey Elyse! Glad it was entertaining even if we don't ultimately agree on the movie. (And sorry about the insane amount of typos. :) I read over it again and must have typed it right after seeing the movie - must have been too incensed to write properly. ha!)

    It's been years since I've seen it but I actually liked FORREST GUMP (am I remembering correctly that you didn't?) so there's clearly no accounting for taste.

  3. I loved FORREST GUMP but know many people who didn't. I'm willing to overlook minor flaws in a movie if the main character is someone I can root for, but it sounds like the issues you had with DISTRICT were too big for you to overcome.

  4. Oh yay! FG love. It must be me remembering you speaking of other folks not liking it.

    It's funny how some flaws can catch us and others don't. I recently read a book where I know I wasn't supposed to be hung up on this rather small detail from the beginning but I could never let it go. It ended up ruining the entire book. Thank goodness there are many books out there and I can just switch titles. :)