Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No Humans Allowed!

I was intrigued by District 9 when it was advertised a few years ago. But I never got around to seeing it. I did watch it yesterday, and I am most impressed.

This is great science fiction, in that the fantastic elements (aliens coming to Earth and settling in Johannesburg South Africa) are seamlessly blended into a very realistic normal world. These are special effects which exist to serve the story and don't draw attention to themselves, in other words the best kind.

The plot for the feature version follows the premise closely. It simply is that a ship arrives mysteriously, stops over Johannesburg, and eventually it is discovered it is filled with a million bug-like aliens derisively called "Prawns" by the humans who at first take them in and then almost immediately seek to exploit them. Twenty years pass and a slum has developed where the aliens live behind barricades.

The feature grows out of a short film by the director titled Alive in Joburg. Here's that original short.

The story in District 9 concerns a small man, a man with many petty passions but who genuinely loves his wife, a man who is exploited himself and finds himself reduced to merchandise like the "Prawns" he himself managed and patronized. Sharlto Copley does a magnificent job in the main role, and it's certain that if he weren't so very good, the movie wouldn't be half of what it is. He gives a remarkable performance of man struggling, a man we are not used to being the "hero" of a flick like this.

I won't say there aren't some plot points you have to swallow hard to make the story rumble along, there are some, but by and large this is a neat tale told simply but with impressive talent. You really feel for the plight of the protagonist and the aliens he connects with. Likewise the disdain for men is pretty stark, though sadly it's nothing much different than what we find on the nightly news.

I found District 9 compelling, and well crafted. I highly recommend this one.

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