What we think about: District 9

Who else saw District 9 at the weekend? A few of us did, and we wanted to share our thoughts on it. Why? Because it’s sci-fi, and, generally speaking, we’re (your humble CG writers as well as you guys) all sci-fi fans to one degree or another. That is to say you won’t be seeing our thoughts on, say, The Goods any time soon. (Fair warning: there will be spoilers.)

I, Nicholas A. Deleon, will go first. How do I say this… I didn’t like the movie. I don’t want to use the word “rubbish” because it was actually shot pretty well—the teaser trailer was one of the best ones I’ve ever seen, and totally sold me on the film—but man alive did it make no sense. As I just complained in our chatroom, why are these aliens, who have come across the galaxy (granted, not by choice), putting up with being locked up in a South African internment camp? They have access to weaponry that could run wild all over humanity, and yet they’re content with living in some Johanesburg slum? And then we’re communicating with these aliens? So either they learned English, or we learned their language. I don’t believe it. And then we’re serving them eviction notices. Sure, okay, because super advanced aliens still understand primitive concepts like “property” and whatnot. Inter-species prostitution? Really? It just so happens that these aliens reproduce sexually, and are “compatible enough” with humans that it can occur? Bologna. I especially hated how people were treating the aliens like noisy neighbors and not space aliens. Let me tell you something: if aliens from outer space even bother landing on this planet—when was the last time you ever stopped by an ant hill to have a chat with its leader, because the same thing applies here?—people all over the world would be losing their mind. South Africa would have been quarantined, blockaded, you name it. You’re not gonna have China, Russia, and the U.S. sit around while the UN (or MNU or whatever) “handles” an alien invasion. We (the U.S.) don’t even trust the UN when we’re going to invade a normal, human-populated country. You’d have senators screaming on TV, “We have to kill these aliens before they destroy us!” The UN wouldn’t even break out its stationary if space aliens landed. Basically, the whole premise was lame.

John Biggs here. I’m going to disagree with young Nicholas who saw this as a “serious sci-fi movie” and not an extended allegory. The whole this is a fairly obvious jab at apartheid and racism but, more interestingly, it turns the standard story of aliens landing on Earth on its head. The aliens in this case are under-achievers who can’t quite wake up enough to fight back against the treatment they’ve received and, in fact, seem happy to be living in a shanty town eating cat food. I see it as more a comedy in the vein of Shaun of the Dead than a serious sci-fi drama.

The obvious issue is why didn’t the aliens fight back? They explained that they found the prawns inside their ship dying, covered in their own filth and depending on fires for warmth. Clearly these guys aren’t going to be attempting a coordinated effort to eradicate humans. They can’t even drive cars! That said, yes, I agree that it’s a lot to take and the tongue-in-cheek story is a bit transparent at times and the eviction idea is ridiculous. But, remember, this is 20 years after they landed. Everyone is now used to the prawn.

As for the style I was looking for something in the vein of Children of Men but got Cloverfield. That’s not to say this was as bad as Cloverfield – I wouldn’t give that movie the steam of my piss, as they say – but the herky jerky camerawork was a gimmick and it worked, mostly. Children of Men, on the other hand, had some great camerawork but it was never meant to be reportage in the same way.

Heck, they even played the kid alien well, giving him just enough cute and just enough preciousness to make him a sympathetic character.

So my opinion? Great movie. The sequel will suck but it will be rendered up there with the classics.

Your thoughts?