Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Movie Review: District 9

After months of listening to all the hype surrounding the new sci-fi film District 9, I decided to part with seven bucks and buy a ticket.  I’ve never held much affinity for the genre; the Alien flicks and the Star Wars saga are far from my cup of tea.  But what intrigued me to give this picture a try was the enticing originality of the plot.

It focuses on an impoverished race who have been relegated to the shantytowns of Johannesburg.  After twenty years of discrimination and oppression, their population has grown to a size the slums of this South African city can no longer sustain.  And so comes the protagonist, a bureaucrat with a scientific military operation assigned to relocate the race to a government-sanctioned campsite 100 miles southward.  But the displacement does not go as planned, and from there the plot unfurls.

            It may have slipped my mind to mention that this was an alien race (minor factoid).  It’s true that regardless how original this premise may sound, the initial envisioning of it may seem rather suspect, if not downright laughable – and going in I feared that might be verified.  I quickly realized, however, that I had fallen upon the most daringly plausible and realistic science fiction story in all of my movie-going experience.

            With a budget of only $30 million, this film’s CGI and special effects are somehow still first-rate.  The script is quality and the pace is good.  Perhaps the most sterling thing about this film, however, was the acting.  To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single well-known Hollywood figure present in all of District 9, thus lending both the fantastic plot and the destitute setting a much greater credence; as in a typical documentary-style film, we do not know of the people we are watching anymore than we know of their capacities.  The only negative part of the experience is the initial adjustment the audience must make to seeing the creatures interact with humans on screen.  After ten or fifteen minutes, though, I was able to suspend disbelief and just enjoy.

Finally, worth mentioning are the final thirty minutes, which featured perhaps the most thrilling denouement I’ve ever seen at the cinema.  I highly recommend District 9 to all sci-fi lovers and, in fact, any moviegoer who is interested in viewing a truly original story.

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