Friday, March 5, 2010

The Plan: Four down...three more to go

The Plan: I have decided to see these seven films before the Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday night, March 7 -

An Education [I saw this one on 2/21- click the link for my review]

☐ Avatar

☐ The Blind Side

Crazy Heart [I saw this one on 2/20- click the link for my review]

☐ District 9

The Hurt Locker [I saw this one on 2/26- click the link for my review]

☐ The Last Station

Last night, I saw...

District 9 - (Jim Styro's mini-review)

Whoa Nellie!

Director Neill Blomkamp's first feature film is a concoction that is part "prison break", part "man-on-the-run", part "bank heist", part "concentration camp" and part "documentary" sprinkled liberally over a bed of sci-fi (including homages from everything to David Cronenberg's The Fly to The Phantom Menace to Close Encounters of the Third Kind). It's got everything - plus the kitchen sink! All this with an underlying rumination on apartheid - to be more accurate, the question: If the creature is different enough from you, is it OK to treat him (her, it) like crap?

There's a lot going on in District 9, which is both a blessing and a curse. The film hurtles you directly into a world where mankind's first encounter with an alien race occurs in Johannesburg, South Africa - which gives a whole new meaning to the term "third world". The hectic nature of the movie's opening will be hard for some viewers to take in (I kept reminding myself that I was watching a film nominated for Best Picture) - but if you like a flick that is crammed full of ideas, you won't be disappointed. The "little green men" here (OK, they're really big ugly-looking bug-things) haven't come to be take over our planet - or be our friends - they just ran out of gas on their way home. And by the time we humans get around to cutting them out of their mothership, most of them are dead or dying. As a result, Soweto gets a new ghetto, this one filled with aliens, called "District 9".

I won't even attempt to outline the plot (beyond my helpful hints in the opening paragraph). This is a messy film - in every sense of the word. But once we get inside District 9, the action does begin to draw you in for a bumpy ride. The movie does have a number of gross-out moments - but the overall effect of District 9 is so unreal that, at times, it's like watching someone else playing Halo (or some other first-person shooter video game). And the movie features a good performance by Sharlto Copley as Wikus, who goes from being the bumbling husband of the boss' daughter put in charge of an operation beyond his abilities to a man desperately trying to retain/reclaim his humanity. He also gets style points for trying to imbue the word "f*ck" with the most dramatic impact since The Big Lebowski.

If you're a sci-fi fan, you're probably gratified that the Academy has recognized District 9 with a Best Picture nomination. I don't put it in the same level with the other nominees I have seen so far - but some of that is just a matter of taste, after all.

Take care.


historymike said...

Your cryptic Facebook comment makes sense now.

tera said...

Hubs and I saw this a while ago and kind of liked it. I liked that it was different than not only most sci-fi movies, but most of the movies we'd seen period.
You're right though, it's kind of messy. And the ending made me wonder if they were trying to set up a sequel. Don't know if I would want one or not.