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District 9
(Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

Only kind of wanting to see it in theaters initially, after reading outstanding reviews here (at MoFo) for District 9, I said “What the hell” and went to my local cinema. And while I feel District 9 didn’t quite live up to the hype, it still proved to be an enjoyable summer movie with some very cool concepts, themes, and sequences of action. Mostly I have two major gripes, one more of a personal complaint and one that I felt was an out-right flaw in the story (which I’ll go into later in the review), and it is these two problems, primarily, that hold District 9 back from being as good as it could have been, but nonetheless, it’s a good film, especially considering this was Neill Blomkamp’s directorial debut.

My biggest gripe (the former of the two complaints I mentioned above) is—pure and simply—I thought the movie started out pretty slow. The hand-held camera type of cinematography and how the film began as a collection of interviews caught me off guard, as I didn’t know District 9 was going to be that kind of movie, style-wise. It took me a little while to settle into that particular feel and atmosphere, but once I finally did, and once the character introductions (etc.) were out of the way, I thought things really picked up; it just took me longer than I’d have liked to get there, to that point. To re-enforce those thoughts, knowing that Peter Jackson had a hand in District 9, my mind couldn’t keep from making comparisons between this and 2005’s King Kong, as I thought King Kong also started out painstakingly slow, but as with District 9, once it picked up, it got exceptionally good.

As far as my other problem, it is this (this next bit contains spoilers): toward the end of the movie, when the protagonist (Wikus) forms a shaky alliance with Christopher (the intellectual prawn with a son) in hopes of reaching a cure for the infestation of the alien DNA hybridizing him, one moment we see Wikus knocking Christopher out in an angry rage, taking off in the space shuttle—leaving the poor creature behind without much of a second thought—and then, before we know it, Wikus risks his life for Christopher upon his return, giving up a better shot at freedom by going back to save him from the crazed military soldier. I just couldn’t understand that sudden complete change of character; how one minute Wikus couldn’t care less about Christopher and separating him from his son, and the next minute sacrificing himself to allow Chris the chance to escape to save his people. It left me scratching my head. But the action scenes that followed certainly helped make up for it.

Aside from that, I enjoyed my theatrical experience of watching District 9. I found myself becoming more and more engrossed in District 9’s unique and captivating story as the film progressed, and ended up liking my decision to see it in theaters. It has its flaws, but it also has its good points too, and those lie in the film’s fantastic action, the story (of course), and the movie’s many themes which it explores wonderfully, which range from perseverance of those who have strong will, to redemption achieved through unconventional friendships. Albeit not at full price as a new release, this will be one I eventually pick up on DVD (or Blu-ray).