District 9 (2009) featured the intense action and violence of Predator (1987) and DeepStar Six (1989) but the emotional pull of Enemy Mine (1985). Plus, it was loaded with powerful social commentary. Imagine it, humans treating other living creatures like lesser beings, undeserving of equal treatment.
4 1/2 stars out of 5
The trailers were brilliant in my humble opinion. I can’t remember which movie I was at when I saw the trailer for the first time, possibly The Dark Knight (2008), but I turned to whoever I was with and said, “I gotta see that!” Alas, I didn’t make it back to the theater in August 2009. However, I saved it to my Netflix queue and made sure it was at the top of my list the week of its release.
Then it went to a “Very Long Wait.” Grrr.
So I didn’t get to watch District 9 on DVD until January 23, 2010. And it’s taken me a few days to gather my thoughts about it. Okay, it’s been almost two weeks, but let that speak to the movie’s credibility as bona fide science fiction, which should always make you think, at least a little.
Teensy side note: What does it say about the last 10-15 years of science fiction movies if the only ones that come to mind as I watched District 9 were from the 80s?
Following that train of thought, I had to take a quick peek at my ratings on Netflix to see if maybe a 90s or 00s sci-fi flick was merely lost in my memory vault, which holds the 4,400 movies I’ve watched over the past 20-plus years. I discovered that, of the 4 star movies centered around aliens, Mission to Mars (2000) and Signs (2002) were the only two that slipped my mind.
Sad, isn’t it?
Or, I guess, good news for Neill Blomkamp, who co-wrote (with Terri Tatchell) and directed the film, since the lack of comparable movies could mean an increased fresh factor for his film. And the original feel is most definitely a great thing for moviegoers.
The film opened up right in the middle of the action with a documentary-type approach. The accents were somewhat difficult to understand at first, but after about 20 minutes I had my footing and felt like I was able to understand 90% of it. The biggest surprise was how much the film’s atmosphere affected my mood. After about 30 minutes I felt icky and outraged.
The special effects were amazing. I mean, how often do you see special effects under the blaze of midday African sunshine? And not once did I say to myself, “Oh, that’s so CGI.” The aliens were real as far as I could tell. So the suspension of disbelief in that department was not difficult at all. Nothing distracted me from the story. Not even the abundance of vomit or bodies blown to smithereens.
The twist was easy to spot; however, the way in which it was delivered was key to its success. Wikus Van De Merwe’s transformation took the film to another level and I’m more than a little shocked Sharlto Copley didn’t earn an Academy Award nomination for his performance.
The ending, although satisfying, cinched my demand for a sequel. So, how about it, Peter Jackson?
What’s your favorite science fiction film?
Purchase District 9 on Amazon.
District 9 official site | IMDb | Netflix