Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Thumb Down, One Claw Up

Movie Review: District 9, Directed by: Neill Blomkamp

My movie buddy really didn’t like the new sci fi movie, District 9. There was too much dirt, too much blood, and entirely too much vomit. Most sci fi movies are antiseptically clean, like Star Trek. Everything is shiny plastic in the future and there’s not a hair out of place, if there’s any hair at all. If people get vaporized, they just turn into talc, although sometimes their heads make a tiny popping sound and turn into a shiny mint Jello.

But in “District 9,” disintegrating people get nasty people stuff all over everything.

She also said it was nothing but an old “cowboy and Indian” shootemup, because there were more war scenes than in any movie since “Transformer.” And also, keeping misunderstood aliens on reservations, cruel and horrible as it is, does come right out of the American West, doesn’t it?

The movie takes place in Johannesburg from 1982, when over a million creatures from space inexplicably arrived, to present, when the South African government decides to move them out of their trashy ghetto to someplace more convenient for people and further out of town.

There’s a lot of humor. The hero is a twit’s twit at first. He delivers “eviction notices” at alien shacks, and asks the soldiers politely but insistently to stop murdering alien families. He’s right out of “The Office,” the British version, where twits are kind of scary.

The civil rights aspects of “District 9” are obvious from the first, and the anti-war aspects get more and more obvious as the movie goes on. There are all kinds of historical comparisons that come to mind as the story unwinds and the morality of it starts to sink in. Concentration camps, bantuslands, apartheid, Native American reservations, the Warsaw ghetto, genocide, the weapons race, and modern Palestine could each claim to be central to the theme. It’s an ugly movie but it’s about ugly things. That’s why I liked it.

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