My initial reaction to District 9, upon the movie ending was to say -- and I quote; "What the fuck was that?!" I sort of felt like my soul had just been raped, and I was just beginning to feel the crush of information as I processed the movie I had just watched..
Let me start by saying that District 9 is an extremely interesting movie and most likely not what you will expect.. In fact I described it to my best friend as being "completely fucked up and horribly dark with a message that is delivered in an extremely heavy handed manner -- but at the same time.. kinda cool.." And I stand by that description now that I have had time to process..
It wasn't bad. It really wasn't.. even though my review is harsh, I kind of liked it and will watch it again 'cause I'm sure there was a lot I missed..
However, this movie makes no attempt to hide that it has a message, and by god you're going to get the message like it or not.. For the first 3/4 of the movie the happy go-lucky recently promoted dork goes about committing what amounts to horribly brutal and inhumane acts.. (of a character similar to crimes against humanity).. of enforcing racial segregation... against an already segregated people.. in South Africa.. Hrmmm If only there were a cogent paradigm..
"Down with the aliens!! Keep those Kaffer's .. er I mean 'Prawns' out of our towns!" Okay got it.. Apartheid is bad.. No shit.. uh.. Wasn't it outlawed back in the early 90's for exactly that reason? Oh they aren't from Earth so it's okay.. Feh..
All during this process the movie is just dragging ass.. Shot from a "news footage" point of view you have to watch people beat, humiliate, torture and even kill the prawns (the offensive and ONLY name given to the alien race) just 'cause they are aliens, for a good .. long .. while .. from shaky cam news footage style.. (many times in places that it made no sense to shoot it that way as there wouldn't be a camera there..) Simply put, this part of the movie was horribly dark and depressing, and just too long..
It was so long that one guy got up and left the theatre.. We were at Alamo Drafthouse, where they serve beer and food while you watch the movie, and this guy bailed.. it was that hard to watch.. They really didn't develop the aliens characters overly much either..
All of the prawns are portrayed as these loathsome scavengers, locked in this multi-block enclosure where they had been for 20 years whom behave in disgusting alien ways.. As such it really evokes zero sympathy for them.. We really learned nothing about them as a race of people, why they were here, how they interact with each other, their children, us etc.. and you were given the impression we weren't supposed to care.. Thus the focus seems to be on the dork and abusing the prawns..
In all likelihood it actually didn't go on that long, but it sure as hell seemed like it..
Eventually the happy go-lucky dork gets infected by the magical mystical goo that the aliens had been struggling for 20 years to acquire/create and slowly starts transforming into a prawn. The dork got the goo from the friend of the main protagonist prawn who in the next scene has his brains blown out.. (assuming he keeps his brains in his head.. )
We know nothing about this goo other than it's bad for humans, it's impossibly hard to create, and apparently a couple drops will power a space ship the size of a city across a galaxy.. Huge holes around the goo, but fine.. cheap plot device -- the aliens struggled for 20 years to create it -- its very important to them in that it powers their ship and is the reason they are stuck here -- it turns humans into prawns -- and is now in the hands of the humans.
Suddenly due to the infection the dork has his entire life stripped away from him; his hot wife, his new job, his dorky identity.. he's portrayed to the media as this highly contagious alien fornicator (prawn fucker) and is on the run from the law.. There is only one place he can go! Guess where.. Go ahead and guess..
You even have other painful cliche characters like;
- The overzealous military guy who just loves pulling the wings off flies..
- The innocent and way too hot wife of the dork who loves her man.. is mad at her man.. wants nothing to do with her man.. no no wait.. she forgives him.. loves her man again..
- The gun running, drug doing, voodoo gang over lord who you just know will cause all manner of trouble.. for no good reason other than "you had your chance, its my turn to have the power now.."
- The token black guy being trained for the dorks job and was the only guy on the team that was specifically not given a kevlar vest to wearing. "Don't worry about it.. wear this red shirt instead.."
- And of course.. the evil father-in-law that secretly had been running covert body snatcher like biological experiments on the prawns all along and now was going to have the newly infected son-in-law killed because his organization needs his DNA in order to be able to use the alien weapons.. wait.. what?!
I mean seriously it's painfully obvious where it's going to go.. It just took a long time to get there.. He slowly learns the errors of his ways and decides to help the main protagonist prawn get his prawny son, two characters we really knew very little about but who in the end are more humane than we are, to the mother ship before ultimately turning into a prawn himself.
So.. The dork, who at this point is half turning into an alien gathers up alien and human weapons by force from the gun running voodoo guy and storms the organizations compound in order to get the goo back, all the while the gun running voodoo guy is threatening revenge..
And so begins the running fire fight which would be the new mode of the movie from here on out..
Suddenly the part of Peter Jackson is played by Micheal Bay.. And we are rewarded for our sticking out the "message" portion of the movie with lots of bullets and explosions -- and of course some of the best CG "mech" porn I have seen in a long time... in fact.. ever..
Really I can simply describe everything from this point on as a constant running firefight with the main dork redeeming himself by killing everyone from the inside of an extremely well done CG mech.
The movie itself looks sort of like black hawk down with aliens.. The attention to detail everywhere was actually pretty darn good.. The aliens looked great! And the special effects for the alien weaponry, especially the mech was very well done. I was less impressed by the ships.. but what can ya do..
The dork, now hero, escorts the main prawn protagonist as far as he can, even going as far as to say "go on without me, don't make my sacrifice for nothing.."
The prawn says, with a black tear in his eye, "I'll be back in three years.. I promise.." Then turns and runs to the ship while the dork/hero continues to fight on. He eventually gets to the ship, takes off.. and flies away.
The dork/hero's mech finally is destroyed -- opens up and coughs the hero out as it colapses into a heap and of course the cliche military guy comes up and gives a nice monolog about how he will enjoy killing the dork/hero.. Which never happens because all the rest of the prawns run up and rip him to shreds..
Or is it? The last thing we see is confirmation that the dork/hero has turned fully into a prawn and we know that all the prawns left on Earth have been moved from district 9 to district 10.. I'm pretty damned sure there was some foreshadowing being hammered into us here too.. The "3 years" number was thrown around quite a lot.. and moving them from District 9 to District 10 seemed obvious... etc..
The movie had gaping plot holes.. Completely underdeveloped or not even remotely developed main characters.. It had a horrible and down right offensive message that was delivered in quite possibly the worst way.. And really had very few redeeming qualities.. I seriously hope they don't make a sequel.. However, if they do it would almost have to be better than the first one..
So having said that; I kind of liked it.. The visuals were good candy, and I do like my candy but the rest of it kind of hurt..