District 9

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Kizyr
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District 9

Postby Kizyr » Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:53 pm

Anyone else seen this? I saw it opening night several weeks ago, but never got around to making a thread about it.

In short, it's the best science fiction movie I've seen in years--on par with Blade Runner and Alien/Aliens, if not better. It has all the great, classic Bradbury-esque elements of science fiction that make it my favorite genre, with a ton of great action sequences put in as well (you wouldn't think it was "low-budget" by Hollywood standards at all).

Neill Blomkamp I think is set to be the next Ridley Scott or James Cameron. I'm hoping to see more come out of him (and I also wouldn't mind seeing more movies sent in modern-day South Africa at that).

There are a few short films by Blomkamp you might want to check out:
Alive in Jo'burg (the inspiration behind District 9)
Yellow (similar to Blade Runner's concept)
Tetra Vaal ("third world Robocop")
Citreon C4 commercial (I didn't know he'd directed one of my favorite commercials 'til this year) KF
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Re: District 9

Postby Werefrog » Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:48 pm

I saw it about two weeks ago. I liked it all right, especially at the beginning and end when it was done in a style that mirrored documentary realism. I thought the quality suffered when it moved away from that style and moved back to a more traditional Hollywood style.

I have a few complaints about the script. The largest complaint is that I thought all of the racial and political issues covered were really blatant. The movie lacked subtlety in the way that it created its allegory to the apartheid (granted, allegories usually aren't very subtle).

My other big complaint is that there was too much gross-out stuff in the movie. I didn't really want to see anyone's fingernails fall off in a movie.

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Re: District 9

Postby Sonic# » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:55 pm

Probably spoilers.

In short, it's the best science fiction movie I've seen in years


I've thought about District 9 a lot, and I can find no room to disagree. Moon is pretty close from what I've heard (I've never seen it), and Star Trek, while sci-fi, is more properly space opera. This is more mature sci-fi, of the Children of Men vein.

Ever since seeing it, and thinking about it in my head, I like the movie more and more. It's not a film I could comfortably watch again. Werefrog, it wasn't really the fingernails being peeled off that got to me. It was when they were torturing Wikus, when his father-in-law was lying to his wife about his death, when I saw the alien experimentation that the official documentary line had hidden, that I became physically sick.

The apartheid allusions were pretty overt, but it's not something that can be done gently. And the action sequences, especially near the end, were good too. Yay mech! I really have nothing else to say right now, except that I took a shower when I got home, because just before the movie I'd actually been sprayed by water droplets from above randomly! The movie created a phobia right there.
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"Than seyde Merlion, "Whethir lyke ye bettir the swerde othir the scawberde?" "I lyke bettir the swerde," seyde Arthure. "Ye ar the more unwyse, for the scawberde ys worth ten of the swerde; for whyles ye have the scawberde uppon you, ye shall lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded. Therefore kepe well the scawberde allweyes with you." --- Le Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory

"Just as you touch the energy of every life form you meet, so, too, will will their energy strengthen you. Fail to live up to your potential, and you will never win. " --- The Old Man at the End of Time

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Re: District 9

Postby Kizyr » Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:00 pm

Werefrog wrote:I saw it about two weeks ago. I liked it all right, especially at the beginning and end when it was done in a style that mirrored documentary realism. I thought the quality suffered when it moved away from that style and moved back to a more traditional Hollywood style.

I agree on the first part, but I feel like it wouldn't've been able to develop the plot around Wikus had it not moved away from the documentary style about halfway through the film. So I was ok with the shift there.

I have a few complaints about the script. The largest complaint is that I thought all of the racial and political issues covered were really blatant. The movie lacked subtlety in the way that it created its allegory to the apartheid (granted, allegories usually aren't very subtle).

Hm. I disagree on that; I didn't think it was so heavy-handed. Particularly because apartheid is such a salient aspect of South African history, and (more importantly) the original story was conceived around 1990 while apartheid was still in place. So, the prospect of aliens landing in South Africa would've necessarily involved them being fit into the apartheid structure (regardless of when the movie takes place, since they landed over twenty years ago).

My other big complaint is that there was too much gross-out stuff in the movie. I didn't really want to see anyone's fingernails fall off in a movie.

I suppose I'm desensitized. None of that grossed me out.

Sonic# wrote: Ever since seeing it, and thinking about it in my head, I like the movie more and more. It's not a film I could comfortably watch again.

I think I could watch it over and over again... Some of it hit pretty hard--particularly the scenes you mentioned--but there was so much backstory that was only subtly hinted at there that I'm positive I could find new things after a few rewatches. KF
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Re: District 9

Postby Aaron » Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:01 am

It was okay. It was thoroughly enjoyable but it wasn't as great as people are saying it is.

I think the main character had some rather redeeming qualities and his character actually saw growth through the movie. He was very interesting. Something that gave me great joy through the movie was that as he was becoming an alien, he in fact became more human. It was really well done.

Some problems I had with it were:

I had trouble entering this fantasy because I can't really picture the gov'ts of the world allowing the Prawn to live in such squalor conditions.

Why didn't the Prawn just individually decide to use their weapons to get what they wanted, for example shooting the Nigerians to get Cat food.

Also what were Nigerians doing in South Africa?

If Christoper was a leader Prawn why didn't he rally the people?

Why does alien fuel turn people into aliens?! It makes so sense.

Also if their weapons are powered by some sort of biological agent/DNA then why couldn't they just use lower lvl Prawns as fuel?

Why wasn't the scene from the trailer in the movie?

Why did the movie end halfway through the story?

Where is the sequel?

A Multinational corporation would never be delegated to handle a brand new intelligent species.

Why was their inter racial prostitution if all the Prawn were A-Sexual?

Where were the female Prawn?

If a mother ship gets lost in space/stranded, no body would come looking for nearly 3 million people?! Why didn't the home planet send a search and rescue?


But, as the morals of the story go, I thought it was rather refreshing. Although, it kinda says, if your in a bad neighborhood just GTFO as quick as possible. There was no resolution, making me think there is going to be a sequel. The movie just ended halfway through the story. I think the apartheid message is lost in the sci-fi story. I found myself seeing the Prawns as more human then the human characters. Especially that special ops commando.

But then again when I say Prawn I only mean Christopher. The way the Prawns in general were portrayed were rather infantile.

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Re: District 9

Postby Sonic# » Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:10 pm

I had trouble entering this fantasy because I can't really picture the gov'ts of the world allowing the Prawn to live in such squalor conditions.


I know, after the movie I had to go and look up international responses to South Africa during apartheid, among other things. Turns out that there was the normal international response: condemnation and trade sanctions. There was no other action.

Would the stakes be raised if they were aliens? Possibly. But you'd be surprised how easy it is for a government to term the expense and difficulties of dealing with aliens and refugees Someone Else's Problem.

Why didn't the Prawn just individually decide to use their weapons to get what they wanted, for example shooting the Nigerians to get Cat food.


I'll have to watch it again. There wasn't much about the pre-slum history of the aliens. Perhaps some of them did. I also have a suspicion that, despite their advanced weaponry, a lot of them were intentionally non-violent towards humans. Perhaps the ones living there after even a few years wouldn't want to risk a large-scale government response by violent action, and possible recrimination on all of the aliens. You'll notice the armed guards near the beginning of the film, when they go to serve eviction notices. Even with the confiscated weapons, they're still suspected.

Also what were Nigerians doing in South Africa?


Black market crime lord. If they could get the weaponry to work for them, imagine what they could do in Nigeria.

If Christoper was a leader Prawn why didn't he rally the people?


Again, something I'd have to watch the movie again to give a better reason for. We don't see the early history of District 9, so there may have been a previous leader figure.

But imagine, if you will, what would happen if a powerful leader emerged among the aliens. Do you think that would be remotely in the interests of some of the other aliens, let alone MNU or the black market? MNU doesn't want to deal with an organized populace. Nor would the black market Nigerians. They'd probably soon assassinate him. He's one of the few (if not the only) who can figure out how to get the fuel. He can't jeopardize himself by being a leader.

Why does alien fuel turn people into aliens?! It makes so sense.


If it's based on biological agents, then it might also include retroviruses which would ensure that the DNA (or its equivalent) does not degrade, rendering the fuel useless and inert. Thus Wikus just got sprayed with the retrovirus which is modifying his DNA, first replacing damaged tissue and gradually his healthy tissue.

Also if their weapons are powered by some sort of biological agent/DNA then why couldn't they just use lower lvl Prawns as fuel?


I assume you mean MNU. In answer, they probably already tried to get the weapons to work that way, but it wouldn't work with a human at the trigger.

Or you could mean Christopher. In which case... how monstrous do you think they are, killing their own to generate fuel? Not to mention that it probably wouldn't work, since there must be some refinement process that Christopher wouldn't be able to do with human technology. He could only work with the alien technology's already-refined liquid product.

Why wasn't the scene from the trailer in the movie?


I thought the scene provided good backstory. It was probably made before the final cut. And perhaps they didn't mean to ever include it, since it'd be tough to include an initial interrogation scene which makes the aliens look sympathetic in a documentary that would have no access to such footage.

Why did the movie end halfway through the story?


It did? As I recall, the two aliens got away safely and MNU was exposed, thus completing that part of the story. There is more to say, but it was a good place to end it. See next question.

Where is the sequel?


Blomkamp is very interested in a sequel, after he does another project or two.

A Multinational corporation would never be delegated to handle a brand new intelligent species.


What government wants the burden and responsibility? What NGO has the resources? Somebody else's problem.

Why was their inter racial prostitution if all the Prawn were A-Sexual?


There are many ways to have sex. And the one being paid doesn't have to enjoy it. (Conversely, it doesn't have to be reproductive for someone to enjoy it.)

Where were the female Prawn?


If the aliens are asexual, why would there be females/males? We are the ones that gender them.

If a mother ship gets lost in space/stranded, no body would come looking for nearly 3 million people?! Why didn't the home planet send a search and rescue?


Any number of reasons. Maybe they didn't have the energy to send a distress signal. Maybe it was too far away for light-speed communcations to reach them. (If it'll take three years to get home, the ship must be traveling at FTL speeds.) Maybe their communication devices weren't strong enough. Maybe the home planet didn't know where they were lost?
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"Than seyde Merlion, "Whethir lyke ye bettir the swerde othir the scawberde?" "I lyke bettir the swerde," seyde Arthure. "Ye ar the more unwyse, for the scawberde ys worth ten of the swerde; for whyles ye have the scawberde uppon you, ye shall lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded. Therefore kepe well the scawberde allweyes with you." --- Le Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory

"Just as you touch the energy of every life form you meet, so, too, will will their energy strengthen you. Fail to live up to your potential, and you will never win. " --- The Old Man at the End of Time

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Re: District 9

Postby Kizyr » Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:59 pm

First of all, I still don't understand the perceived need in American cinema to have complete closure at the end of a movie. 28 Days Later, for instance, in the original had an open ending: you didn't know if everyone was safe, and it left you feeling uneasy (as it was supposed to); the "American cut", however, implied that the main character was saved at the end. Some movies are better served by having certain things left open--in reality, not everything gets to be neatly tied up at the end.

Aaron wrote:Some problems I had with it were:

Most of these problems were more than adequately explained by the movie itself. Some are good points, however.

I had trouble entering this fantasy because I can't really picture the gov'ts of the world allowing the Prawn to live in such squalor conditions.
It'd be great if that were the case. But the reality is that there are many governments today that keep other humans in those kind of awful conditions. South Africa under apartheid had the same attitude towards blacks. That the aliens were confined to a shantytown and had restricted movement made way more sense than if they'd allowed them to assimilate with the general population.

The inhumanity towards aliens, and how that closely paralleled inhumanity towards other people, was one of the major points of the movie.

Why didn't the Prawn just individually decide to use their weapons to get what they wanted, for example shooting the Nigerians to get Cat food.
If Christoper was a leader Prawn why didn't he rally the people?

These are some of the good points, but they're still partly addressed by the first half of the movie. The nonhumans have a sort of hive mindset; most people are of the worker class and typically just do as their told--since the leadership class on the ship was killed off, you were left with a bunch of drones. Regarding Christopher, he didn't seem like an ideal leader--he could get a few others onto action, but spurring on an entire 2 million nonhumans into rebellion is a larger matter.

Also what were Nigerians doing in South Africa?
Crime and weapons smuggling. I imagine they got there the same way any criminal organization would.

Why does alien fuel turn people into aliens?! It makes so sense.
Also if their weapons are powered by some sort of biological agent/DNA then why couldn't they just use lower lvl Prawns as fuel?

The fuel was biological; that doesn't mean their fuel was their blood. (The same way you can't burn corn for fuel, but ethanol, which can come from corn, can be used for fuel.)

Why wasn't the scene from the trailer in the movie?
That scene was in the short film I posted earlier, Alive in Joburg, which was the initial basis of the movie.

Why did the movie end halfway through the story?
Where is the sequel?

This is what I meant by the reliance on American cinema by needing closure at the end of every movie. That it left loose ends untied was one of the better aspects of the movie. This is a complex problem that's been ongoing for 20+ years; it's not going to be over after just 3-4 chaotic days.

A Multinational corporation would never be delegated to handle a brand new intelligent species.
Depends on where they land. One of the best aspects of this story was that it took place in Johannesburg, and not in someplace like New York or Los Angeles*. It was probably cheaper to hand over control to MNU than to have the military deal with it.

* Don't get me wrong, though. I thought Alien Nation was awesome.

Why was their inter racial prostitution if all the Prawn were A-Sexual?
Where were the female Prawn?

You answered your second question with the first. They were hermaphroditic.
Given that, it actually doesn't make sense that there was interspecies prostitution.

If a mother ship gets lost in space/stranded, no body would come looking for nearly 3 million people?! Why didn't the home planet send a search and rescue?
Another good point. But, it could be that the millions of nonhumans stranded there just weren't important enough, or no one else knew where they'd landed, or a number of other factors. KF
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Re: District 9

Postby Aaron » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:42 am

good points.

but let me expand my thing about gov'ts of the world allowing the prawn to live horribly.

My point has to do with how people react to celebrities/VIPS. It had nothing to do with comparing how people treat other people (I've seen people treat their dogs better then other people, even in my own family! ZING!). I think that it would have more to do with the status and celebrity of being able to care of the first aliens ever to make contact with us.

In the same way someone might offer to buy a rich man something or bring gifts to kings, that is how I feel that people would react to aliens. I think the very fact that they are not human would lend credence to my theory. If they were human I wouldn't be questioning why they live in horrible conditions.

But I think a liberty was taken here to relate the aliens to South African apartheid.

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Re: District 9

Postby Kizyr » Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:00 pm

Aaron wrote:My point has to do with how people react to celebrities/VIPS. It had nothing to do with comparing how people treat other people (I've seen people treat their dogs better then other people, even in my own family! ZING!). I think that it would have more to do with the status and celebrity of being able to care of the first aliens ever to make contact with us.
In the same way someone might offer to buy a rich man something or bring gifts to kings, that is how I feel that people would react to aliens. I think the very fact that they are not human would lend credence to my theory. If they were human I wouldn't be questioning why they live in horrible conditions.

Realistically I doubt that we'd treat all aliens that way. In other "First Contact" movies, the aliens have usually had something to offer: better technology, new information, contact with other species, etc. (they also had a home they could go back to). In this case, South Africa was left with 2 million uneducated refugees, who barely knew how to use their own technology, much less create new technology.

Given that, no one had anything to gain by treating them nicely. They had to worry about how to get 2 million nonhumans fed and sheltered, all the while preventing them from harming the humans in Johannesburg. While it's likely there would've been some desire to treat them well at the start, after it was apparent that the nonhumans had nothing great to offer in return, that desire would've worn off really quickly as reality sunk in.

Additionally, given that this was South Africa, treating the nonhumans like royalty while a good portion of the population is still below the poverty line would've been politically impossible. KF
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