A Dreamer Walking

District 9

Posted in Movie Reviews by Jacob on June 10, 2010

District 9 was a very original film in many ways. A sci-fi film put in a third world country is very unique. The movie was also the debut of director Neil Blomkamp’s first full length film. With the limited resources the film crew had to their disposal they were able to pull off some very realistic and gripping effects. The story outline was very interesting, the idea of a human transforming into a alien to find his humanity was something that I found intriguing. However, although I liked the outline of this movie and found some of the films aspects very interesting and well done, the execution of the story and the development of the  characters in the story were far from satisfactory.

Neil seemed to come from an effects background in film and knew how to direct the effects crew to make the most realistic effects and animation possible with the limited budget he had. But, I did not think that Neil was as confident with his camera work, the fact that he did not seem to have a grip on the heart of the story might be the reason shooting the film seemed difficult for him. Neil was also a co-writer on the project and it felt like he created some very shallow characters. Most of the character ark and development was non-existent. Neil said that he wanted the main character,  Wikus Merwe (Sharlto Copley), to be like a “dick” at the beginning of the movie. The only problem is that Wikus never stopped being a “dick”. In a story I expect to see characters go out of their comfort zone and grow from their experiences. In District 9 Wikus did go out of his comfort zone, the only problem was that he did not seem to grow from his experiences.

At the beginning Wikus is one of the higher ups at a very powerful company, that is controlling and experimenting with a group of aliens that have landed on earth. The aliens are no doubt victims in this movie, they are too weak to defend themselves and thus we see the humans take advantage of them. Wikus is put in charge of moving these deprived aliens to a even smaller shelter then they are at in the present. During one of Wikus investigations he is sprayed by some alien liquid that starts changing him alien.Wikus’ own company turns against him and he becomes a fugitive.

The only thought Wikus has is to find a way to turn himself back into a human. The transformation to alien is very slow and gory. The only choice Wikus has is to go back to the aliens he once discriminated against and ask for help. During this time we as the audience are supposed to feel for Wikus. The only problem is that Wikus has been portrayed as a “dick”, and his reasons for changing back are very selfish. We are supposed to relate to Wikus’ need to change back so he can return to his wife, the only problem is that we have not been given time to see the relationship he has with his wife. So the fact that Wikus wants to change back seems very selfish.

Through out the transformation Wikus finds the aliens as being appalling. When Wikus is forced to work with one of the aliens, so that he could change back to a human, he treats him with little respect. Their is nothing that Wikus said or did that seemed to tell me he was changing his ideas on knowing who these aliens really were.

Wikus’ selfishness continued until almost the very end. At the last moment Wikus’ chooses to give up his ambitions to turn human and instead he helps the alien who had helped him. Wikus had not earned this change however, there was no real reason to his change, it was just what the movie called for.

Through out the movie there was a lot of gore and violence. The only problem I had was that the gore and violence did not seem to be realistic or mean anything. Most of the killing we saw came from Wikus fighting the humans. He was in so much need to turn back into human that he was willing to kill dozens of humans to achieve his goal. Wikus used a alien weapon where when you shot someone they would blow up like a water balloon. Watching commentary on the film I found that Neil thought most of the violence and bloodshed was funny.

To say the least, I think that Neil has a very sick sense of humor. I think the movie was not gripping because Neil and most of his crew did not take the story seriously. Neil was dealing with some very serious subjects like war and racism. He wanted to make sure he was not shoving anything into anyone’s throats, I think that can often be used as an excuse to stay shallow. As a filmmaker I never want to push something in my audiences face, I do not want to be the person telling the audience what exactly to think. However, I do have a job to take subjects like war and racism seriously.

District 9 had a lot of potential. I think that in many ways Neil Blomkamp is a very talented director. However, the heart of the story seemed to be very shallow. I found that Neil had a very sad vision on what society has become and in District 9 he seems to not take a very serious subject seriously. The ending seemed to be very forced and undeserved. The heart of the film is where Neil missed, he seemed to take the cheap way out and made fun of the racism and violence that was going on.

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