Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer
Are we alone in the universe? Answer
Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer
FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer
What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
|Featuring||Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, Sylvaine Strike, Elizabeth Mkandawie, John Summer, William Allen Young, Greg Melvill-Smith, Nick Blake, Morena Busa Sesatsa, Themba Nkosi, Mzwandile Nqoba, Barry Strydom, Jed Brophy, Louis Minnaar, Vanessa Haywood, Marian Hooman, Vittorio Leonardi, Mandla Gaduka, Johan van Schoor, [more]|
“Stargate SG-1,” “Smallville,” “3000 Miles to Graceland”
|Producer||Key Creatives, QED International, WingNut Films, Wintergreen Productions, Bill Block, Philippa Boyens, Elliot Ferwerda, Peter Jackson, Ken Kamins, Michael S. Murphey|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Entertainment|
“You are not welcome here.”
Have you by any chance seen “Hotel Rwanda?” How about “Black Hawk Down” or “Blood Diamond?” If you answered “yes” to any of these, I’d like you to close your eyes and imagine those films for a moment, and then using your imagination insert bug-like aliens for the refugees and mistreated peoples depicted in those films. Congratulations, you’ve just cracked the code to Peter Jackson and Neil Blomkamp’s newest science-fiction, social commentary thriller.
“District-9” begins by telling a story through news clips, archive footage, and interviews of an Earth changing event: first contact with intelligent alien life. The scene is not as one would expect, however. No beams of light shooting from the doorway, no loud speaker phones echoing over the plains of South Africa “we come in peace.” Just a giant, rusted metal space craft, much resembling an oil tanker or roll on/roll off ship, filled with millions of mostly uneducated, malnourished alien creatures in need of food, water and medical attention.
In a desperate attempt to keep the chaos under control, a government agency based out of South Africa named MNU (Multi-National United) takes the lead in fencing in the refugee aliens and housing them in small shacks, creating a sort of ghetto at the heart of Johannesberg, South Africa, which they name District-9.
After 20 years, the District is growing increasingly unsafe, and MNU promotes a young agent, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), to begin evicting each and every alien family from their homes to move to a new complex 200 kilometers outside of the city.
Some have begun to praise this film with words such as “groundbreaking” and “a new science-fiction classic.” The praise seems unwarranted considering the inefficiencies inherent in the actual storyline following a promising and complex premise. The plot structure, although clever, is very simple at its core, and the story line is shown from only the perspective of Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), as much of it is filmed with the “news camera recording” cinematography style, disallowing the cameras to ever venture far from any main character, always shakily following closely behind. As far as the description “classic,” I’d sight and argue that much of the film techniques and social messages inferred in this film are more so “flavor of the week” and popular right now and won’t stand the test of time required for a film to be a classic.
As for the content of the film, most 13 to 15 year old science-fiction lovers with parents paying attention will be grossly disappointed for many reasons. The violence is gratuitous and ever present throughout. The alien weaponry used in the film literally causes men’s heads and bodies to explode in most every scene in the latter half of the film, and there are multiple other gratuitous scenes of men being operated on and others of humans eating parts of aliens and cutting them up.
The language is perhaps the biggest disappointment. Although the script rarely gets creative with it’s curse word vocabulary, it never ventures away from throwing one particular word, which begins with an F and is what most people would consider the worst, at you nearly 100 times. There’s no sexual content to speak of other than a few conversations various characters have in interviews about the activity of alien to human prostitution and the inference of what it leads to.
From a science-fiction perspective “District-9” is certainly no “Blade Runner,” nor is it “Alien,” “War of the Worlds,” or even “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” It’s certainly a breed of its own, but I felt that it left too much to be desired. The story Producer Peter Jackson and Director Neil Blomkamp tell is one that is far less interesting than the surrounding situation. So many questions and facts that were left out so that the story of a man and his interactions with the aliens could be told was a mistake. I wanted to know more about their arrival and about the aliens, about their culture and how they learned to communicate with humans, and why they weren’t leaving and what happened to their planet. I feel as though audiences will be dazzled by the computer graphics and special effects, but will be spoon fed a one dimensional story that will leave them craving more. They’ll crave more from the writers who fail to explain and elaborate on a complex premise, they’ll question why even when the cameras shifted from a breaking news/documentary perspective (very similar to “Cloverfield”) to a third person perspective, the cinematography style itself is left unchanged, and they’ll ask for more from the characters and the screenplay which disallowed the perspective needed to establish a connection with the alien race so that one cares for them as they would the life of a human (which seemed to be the ultimate goal and challenge).
There’s little, however, that is actually established to care about in the film, and, ultimately, the blender method used to combine real world stories and scenarios of grief and regret with computer animated aliens just doesn’t quite hit the emotional nerve I believe the filmmakers were seeking. It’s never quite a story of hope, nor is it an action sci-fi thriller. It’s not quite a documentary, nor is it a drama. With a soundtrack ripped straight from the Ridley Scott iTunes library play list, “District-9”’s biggest secret is that no one can really figure out what it truly is, or why they should care in the first place.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.