By now you’ve heard – District 9 is the summer blockbuster we’ve been waiting for. But it shouldn’t be.
I’m not saying this film is anything short of fantastic, but part of why the film is so great is that it is great in spite of itself. Its unique story and brilliant acting plow through any hang-ups one might have in enjoying this film.
Aliens visiting Earth. We’ve heard the idea enough to know that either a) they come in peace or b) they want to blow us up. However this film gives us not only a different (if not actually explained) idea of what could happen but also the view from the aliens’ side.
Starting out in documentary form, it immediately establishes a believable environment in Johannesburg, South Africa. The obvious social commentary on racism is there, but it’s not preachy. The irony of the African blacks demanding the alien race be locked away in camps did bring up the memory of Battlestar Galactica‘s infamous line, “All of this has happened before and will happen again.”
There is not one likable character in this film. I was, in fact, rooting for the main character to die the entire time. Every character save for the aliens is a disgusting, vile example of the worst parts of humankind. And yet, you are still watching. You’re gripping your seat and wanting to know what happens next.
Once the action starts going, it doesn’t let up. The use of shaky camera work is plentiful, so those who get motion sickness might want to take a Dramamine beforehand. Similarly, this film is definitely not for those with an aversion to gore. If you know anything about Peter Jackson, you know he has a love for all things gross, and this film is a prime example. Be ready for blood, guts, and lots of explosions. But it has all that with a purpose, and not once do you feel it’s out of place or uncalled for.
There were a lot of holes in this film. A lot of whys and why-nots start popping up, but the movie is entertaining and interesting enough to distract you until it’s over. There is also a lot of information left out of the film. Whether it was purposeful or not, it’s better to have no explanation than a bad one. You can come to your own conclusions, which helps to smooth over some of the gaping holes.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a film that was this imaginative and original. There is truly nothing like it out there. But it was so intense for me that I don’t see myself watching it again anytime soon. It was a bit depressing, much like the end of Requiem for a Dream was for me. There is no pot of gold waiting for you at the end of this film.
It does elegantly leave itself open for at least one sequel, but I don’t know if lightning would strike twice with this one. It was amazing because it was so different and no one knew what to expect. It seems like that might be a hard thing to do a second time around.