District 9 is the first major film effort of director Neill Blomkamp backed by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings maestro). Shot documentary style, it is funny, gory (I likes!), and action packed. Not a dull moment.
I enjoyed this movie, but it was a guilty sort of pleasure. It has one too many offensive, down right nasty, depictions of black people to ignore. At the same time, I thought the story about how cruel human beings are couldn’t be denied.
Per usual, I saw it, because I needed to get out of the house. I remembered the fascinating premiere when I was watching another movie. I was thinking then: a major sci-fi film set in South Africa, alrighty-now!
This was easily one of the best sci-fi films of the year. However, it must come second to Star Trek, because the racism fail was too glaring. I mean, you know it was bad when people clapped at the death of a black character, and remained silent at the death of a white who was equally a bad character.
Without giving away too much of this film: an Office-type, South African bureaucrat, self-important, bigoted moron, named Wikus Van De Merwe (convincingly and superbly played by Sharlto Copley) makes a big mistake during his job to evict aliens from the shanty town they were living in.
The aliens (derisively called “Prawns”) have a ginourmous space ship, which stalled over Johannesburg 28 years ago. MNU, which serves as the architype of the typical, evil, greedy, amoral, psychopathic organization or corporation, is in charge of the aliens.
At first, these beings were welcomed, but over time are treated worse than the blacks (of South Africa) used to be. Take your pick of oppressed minorities segregated from the mainstream of society, shunted to a reservation, a concentration camp, experimented on, abused and maligned, and you get the gist of what’s going on.
People have questions as to why the aliens couldn’t easily get out of their predicament. I look at it this way: when a plane crashes, could anyone – even if everyone survives – realistically rebuild the plane? I’ve been to the Air and Space Musuem, it is not that easily. Hasn’t anyone watched Lost, and realized that?
Next, the alien leaders of the ship was gone. I could point to many parallels as to what humans are like when the top 10%-20% do not guide their populace in the right direction. Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s the top of the bell curve that runs the human race.
Our man, Wikus, is not a hero. He never becomes a hero. At least, in my eyes. He acts bravely when it would help his cause. This to me, made the film extremely honest about the motivations of persons like himself. He may be the average guy: never going to stick out his neck, until it’s his neck that’s on the block.
This film didn’t depress me, but I thought about how clear eyed it was about how we would treat visitors from outer space if they needed us. The history of how humans have treated each other makes me feel that the aliens should have, or must keep on going on, and forget about us. The word humane and humanity is really a joke.
I look forward to the sequel.