Saturday, August 15, 2009

District 9

On the tails of one of the worst movies of the summer, and one of the worst science fiction films I have seen in years comes a breath of fresh air. Simply put, District 9 gobbles up and blows to bits the lack luster film GI Joe. For those daring to see the two films, you will see unfortunately what science fiction has become in GI Joe, and what it used to be in all of its amazing glory in District 9. This film directed by Neill Blomkamp, reflects on his childhood in South Africa. District 9 gives a reminder of the horror from the years of Apartheid, but a haunting revelation that the actions of prejudice, hatred, and lack of compassion still exist.

Since I am into comparisons today, I will discuss the concept of special effects. It seems as if many movies are driven on visual, especially CGI special effects. Unfortunately in many of those stories we loose the concept of story; it is as if what we are seeing on screen has as much nutritional benefit as a candy bar from the grocery store line. Yet somewhere, even though we enjoy the candy, we know there is a gourmet meal awaiting us that would cause us to reflect on the great Julia Childs. District 9 is such a film, we may enjoy the candy, may even prefer the candy, but once we bite into that wonderful full course meal we like to stay seated around the table because not only has the food been exquisite, but the time, company and surroundings have been life touching. That is what we can obtain from District 9. For many, they may not like a full course meal as much as a snickers bar, but the truth is, we all know the well balanced meal is better for us.

District 9 never forgets the concept of what it is, even with its unique presentation. The movie starts off in what appears to be a documentary, following the lines of many recent films such as Quarantine, The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and others. Yet it transforms quickly from what appears to be a news broadcast to a full blown motion picture that flows and draws the viewer in, in epic proportions. The largely unknown cast helps bring this perspective to a point of reality. While there are more than enough gross out moments of blood, gore, and brutality, that helps drive home the horror of oppression. We also see aliens, referred to as Prawns in all their glory, in all their oppression. I won’t tell you what role they take, but what I will say is don’t go into the film expecting some lackluster CGI driven effect movie without story, without intent to challenge your brain to think outside the box.

Technically District 9 is near perfect. From the direction of Blomkamp, the use of sound, visual cinematography, a haunting concept, and brilliant acting from a cast, many of whom have never acted. This includes the leading role of Wikus played brilliantly by Sharlto Copley takes on everything in this movie. He plays the part of an insecure happy go lucky guy recently promoted on his job to oversee the transfer of District 9 a refugee camp for aliens who arrived some 20 years earlier to a place outside of the Johannesburg City Limits. We see him go through every gambit of emotion and ultimately develop to a sort of super hero figure while all along the way displaying deep human emotion. We see this character, this movie; develop along the way of this fascinating 2 hour film.

One of the beautiful things about District 9 is we see a character change, a character who ultimately becomes both human and alien. He ultimately has the ability to bring about change and instead of running from his responsibility to redeem the poor, stand up for the unjust, and be an instrument of salvation; he takes on the challenge, but at a great cost. We see displayed on screen a true Messiah Figure which will bring about deliverance in the manner of Jesus Christ. In that process we see the importance and reminder for each of us; we see the attempt to provide salvation, a transfiguration and a deliverer to the poor. I don’t know the intent of Blomkamp in his writing and direction of District 9, but there are ample spiritual reminders that seem to resemble awful closely the historical figure of Jesus Christ. What we see is bloody, violent, and heartbreaking, so don’t think this is your average Sunday school savior portrayed on screen, it isn’t, but it is a character many correlations can be drawn from. It is one of the beautiful aspects of quality and real science fiction, it draws from real experience and real knowledge to draw spiritual truth, whether the oppression to the poor, or the need to stand up and speak out against atrocities that plague society, unjust governments, overly aggressive militaries or any other form of atrocity you can think of that exists in society.

District 9 is a special kind of film. It respects the origins of its style, involves the best of all worlds, including special effects, quality acting, and thank goodness, a great story. I will see this film again, likely in the theaters to experience again, one of the closest things to a perfect film this summer. I hope the movie brings people back to a point of reality, it is a prime example of how a movie can incorporate entertainment, special effects, and more while at the same time provide meaning to the movie going experience. This is easily one of the best movies of the summer, it is certainly an early Oscar© contender for 2010. I only hope fans give it a chance, with the entertaining marketing campaign for the movie I think they will get them into the seats early on, the reviews and word of mouth hopefully keep it beyond that. District 9 is a great film, addressing serious issues during a time where we could use the reminders of all that is going on around us, from aggressive politicians who care little about the people, to a society ignoring the needs of the poor, including those in need of health care, and a society where we justify the doing of harm to others based on our own individual needs which bring pleasure to us. District 9 will take you beyond a I don’t give a damn attitude, to a place where maybe, just maybe, we can consider which side of the fence we stand on, a me versus them attitude or a place where we consider taking on the concepts of God in all religions to care for the poor and less fortunate amongst us. Of course in a society where individuals have become God which can establish their own set of guidelines, we run into the risk of seeing the danger of doing nothing. I can only hope and pray that the society we largely see in District 9 is not a true representation of who we are.

In a closing note, today I don’t have a lot of hope as I see a community of people in Wichita Kansas opposing the development of a new center in Wichita to feed the homeless. It seems as if they would rather have the liquor stores in their communities and have nothing to do with helping the poor by the establishment of an additional feeding program for the homeless because it will make their neighborhood look bad. I guess we all live in our own Johannesburg’s we all have a part of an Apartheid system where we can stand around and do nothing. May God help us all!

On a scale of 1 – 10 for the near perfection I give a very enthusiastic 9 for Disctrict 9.

The following is the original short film that District 9 was based on. Click on the link below if the video don't appear below, if the video appears, click on the video.

The following is a HD Movie Trailer for District 9, click on the link if the video don't appear.

The following is a Com-Con Panel Discussion on the film, Part 1

Com-Con Panel Discussion Part 2

Com-Con Part 3

Com-Con Part 4

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