Tuesday, August 18, 2009

District 9: B

District 9, originally uploaded by MyCine.

Scott and I saw the much anticipated District 9 last weekend. Like many sci-fi premises, this story was a heavy-handed examination of humanity at its worse.

The movie dives-in with many what if scenarios:

  • What if, instead of landing on the White House lawn, the UN, or a socially/economically stable continent, aliens landed in a troubled location like Johannesburg, South Africa?
  • What if, after 20 years, humanity was not inspired by first contact, but merely viewed aliens as another complicated, messy, unwanted refugee problem?
  • What if the governments of the world outsourced extraterrestrial diplomacy to a for-profit, exploitative, multinational corporation -- which, needless to say, is inherently without morals or ethics?
  • What if technologically-advanced aliens lacked humans' conniving, lying ways?
  • What if a spineless, uninspired, corporate middle manager was placed in charge of human-alien relations?
  • And what if someone made a documentary about it with the usual talking head, expert commentators?

Obviously, this movie portrays us at our worst with, at best, stereotypically irrelevant "human rights" activists in the background and an anti hero who only finds courage and morals when it serves his self-interests. Is humanity really that bad? Sure, other sci-fi like Star Trek are unrealistic in their overly optimistic portrayal of humanity, but nihilistic fantasy is no more realistic. The filmmakers made so much effort to make this movie seem like reality, but only portrayed the worst of humanity's indifference. I will credit the movie for implying that black and white post-apartheid South Africans somehow united to reimpose apartheid against the stranded aliens.

Overall, good sci-fi movie with more of a story than the similarly styled Cloverfield. The graphic vomiting and continually shaky camera work did make me a little nauseous, so small screen viewing is probably preferable. And the movie did annoyingly set things up for a sequel, so we'll probably get to revisit the story - especially since it had a great weekend opening.

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