District 9

I saw a preview for District 9 a long time ago and initially thought it was a revival of the 80s (or was it 90s?) TV show V.  People pulling off their faces to reveal Lizardmen is always appealing.  But then I learned that it was just a thinly veiled historical cautionary tale about apartheid.  With aliens.

Who the hell said this would be a good idea?

Who the hell said this would be a good idea?

The greatest thing about District 9 (other than it’s not what you’d expect from a low-budget sci-fi action flick) is their use of special effects.  Hollywood is finally starting to come to the realization that just because stuff looks cool, doesn’t mean that it is cool.   Transformers, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the new Star Wars, and G-Force all prove this (you’re on deck, Avatar).  There isn’t a virtual-crane shot of the huge spaceship floating above Johannesburg, there aren’t bullet-time effects of aliens shooting their guns, there doesn’t even appear to be any way-too-close-up explosions.  The makers of District 9 use special effects the correct way; that is, it’s only used when necessary and only when it can’t be detected.  Obviously you can’t physically create a floating city, so it’s digital; you can’t physically create an eight-foot lobster that’s able to do all the things a human can do, so it’s digital.

When this care of effects is added to the care of the storyline, they combine to make a really interesting, fun, and appealing movie.  This is the first film I’ve seen in quite a while where I’ve actually gotten lost in the storyline.  Nothing seems to be self-referential or obvious.

When you watch Inglorious Basterds, you know you’re watching a Tarantino movie.  Certain moments just take you out of the story.  When you watch Harry Potter, certain moments feel forced because it’s trying to stay true to the source material.  There isn’t a single frame in District 9 where I had that feeling.  Not once did I stop enjoying myself to think, “What the hell is that for?”

Which is good, because after the movie, I had a thought…

The main character is sprayed with a weird substance that slowly transforms him into an alien.  This same substance, although there are only a few drops left, powers the entire spaceship.  Isn’t that like turning into a plant if you’re doused in corn-oil?  Or getting peed on and then turning into a complete ass? (sorry, I have bad memories of middle school gym class)


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