District 9

Aug. 18th, 2009 08:02 pm
marcus_sez_vote: (Default)
[personal profile] marcus_sez_vote
After the hell of dealing with automated phone company menus PLUS the "disconnection office" that tries to do everything in their power including use of delays, bargaining, etc. to prevent one from actually completing what you're trying to do, I decided to catch a flick during the day. District 9 happened to be playing nearby and with a matinee showing too! Overall I liked it...though AGAIN parents brought children to this film. What is wrong with people??? This RATED R movie has more swear words per scene than Deadwood, bodies being blown apart, and extremely inappropriate/disturbing situations.

This movie was hard to watch. In terms of its visual style (colors, camera work) and bare knuckle approach it reminded me a lot of Children of Men. There are scenes in both of those movies where it is hard to keep watching because of the casual and extremely bloody violence plus lack of morals exhibited by many characters.

The main human character is totally appalling. He is transformed by his experience literally and figuratively, but it is hard to actually feel sympathy with him. Sure you feel something because of the emotional and physical pain he goes through, not to mention the fact that he has his old organization AND Nigerian cannibal gangsters after him, but he is still a seriously messed up asshole. He is as bad as the people vivisecting the aliens when he orders eggs that he discovers to be torched. I guess it does make it more realistic that he is so very selfish in many ways, but it stretched believability for me at some points.

The MNU in terms of style (shape of their helmets, white vehicles, etc.) is very clearly a stand in for U. N. forces who go into slum areas across the world. There is an underlying criticism of government/corporations and what they are capable of doing. Of course this is highly relevant for South Africa considering its history.

There were some plot holes in terms of the weaponry and the "fuel" that is part catalyst to transform Wikas and also lets the drop ship activate. Their weaponry is so advanced I don't see how they don't dictate terms to humanity. Most of the aliens seem to be worker drones, designated in part I think by coloration, but at least SOME of them have to be smart enough to use their advanced weaponry. Also since they're willing to trade their weaponry to get food, why not hire themselves out as mercenaries? I suppose they might be worried about the rest of humanity coming down hard, but it still seemed odd. At least one of the aliens, plus his son, are capable of using their technology competently. Maybe just the green ones are able to...also maybe the yellow ones like Christopher's friend who helped at the lab. Also I don't get why fuel would transform the human, but whatever.

One amazing scene involved a battle suit. If any of you ever played Warhammer 40,000, I can only describe it as a Dreadnaught wading through squads of Imperial Guard with all the disturbing grandeur and bloody destruction that entails. It was intense.

I was fine with the end, though it does leave a lot of things hanging. Why were they sent to Earth in the first place? Were they criminals? Refugees? Disease victims? What will happen when Christopher returns? What is going to happen with the growing alien settlement? They really didn't pull any punches with Wikas...which I liked. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but that's what special edition DVDs are for or sequels.

Be well.

Date: 2009-08-19 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eclecticgypsy.livejournal.com
So, when I was very young, I saw no difference at all between the words "cannibal" and "canonball". Let me tell you, that made for some funny conversation.

This random thought brought to you by the wonders of Tramadol.

Date: 2009-08-19 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emergent.livejournal.com
it stretched believability for me at some points

Oddly, I felt exactly the opposite. He was purely, massively selfish, in the way that ordinary people all too easily are: not actively cruel, just not thinking about moral issues when they might apply people beyond a certain sphere (in this case, the aliens).

I thought the initial loss of the control pod was the dubious part (the fuel too, sure), but the fact that the aliens were almost all "drones" explained most of their behavior. They don't have the smarts, initiative, or leadership to do anything organized. Color didn't seem to matter- the yellow one was as dumb as any other, in its interactions with humans ("Be polite"..."Nobody here!"). And Christopher could have been a pilot, rather than a leader; his existence doesn't fix any of the problems.

Date: 2009-08-19 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marcus-sez-vote.livejournal.com
I don't know...the scene with the eggsacs getting their nutrients removed and then being set on fire where he talks about the young aliens popping like popcorn was more than just being selfish IMO.

The yellow one though knew about the lab, was trusted with helping find the material to get the fluid, and helped process the fuel. That implied to me a higher level of trust from Christopher and general intelligence. Also there is a moment where the son of Christopher compares his skin tone to Wikas, who eventually transforms into a green type too. Also very unclear how they reproduce or if they have genders? Since they're interacting with Nigerian hookers it implies there are males and females?

Christopher is capable of wielding the weapons though he does so only briefly...and he's certainly not as aggressive about it as Wikas. In fact it makes me think that the aliens have a "warrior caste" because of all their crazy weaponry. The ones we see in the film are strong enough to literally tear humans apart...but what about the ones who actually are adept at wielding those weapons...and there have to be those because otherwise why have/make that level of firepower?

Be well.

Date: 2009-08-19 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emergent.livejournal.com
But it's easy to treat an eggsac as an object. All it takes is the tiniest tweak of perspective- "young aliens" are like "baby wasps", not like little people. And then: hee hee, they pop like popcorn, it's fun!

Yellow was stupid- remember their first scene scouring the garbage dump, where yellow couldn't tell the difference between human tech and alien tech? Clearly in on the plan to some degree, but I thought the "gang sign" reference (on the house with the chem set) implied that other alients were in on it too, even if they didn't show up.

And, oddly, I remember Wikas looking yellow at the end. And I thought the kid was just comparing prawniness; they were very different hues, the kid much lighter. Ultimately, I just think the color question is more confusing than helpful; everything can be well (or better) explained by assuming it's just cosmetic.

A warrior caste indeed makes perfect sense; the refugees are a bad cross-section of society, with most of the necessary castes missing... here you had just the sad sack losers, the drones.

Personally, I like the open-endedness of the story. How did they end up stranded on earth? Why are they all drones? What happens in 3 years?

Date: 2009-08-19 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shatterdaymorn.livejournal.com
Indeed... I think the best display of the prawn's inability to deal with humanity was one of the scenes with the Nigerians. After they sell the battle suit, one of the Nigerians holding an axe says to a prawn "look over there". The prawns turns his back looking for something and is immediately killed.

That is not an alien that is able to interact with humans out of exploit them.

As for Wikas, I think they went a bit too far in making him unsympathetic close to the end. When he knocks out Christoper or later runs away from him saying "you can keep him", it was a bit hard to stomach for so late in the movie. Sure he eventually helped him escape, but that doesn't forgive his behavior of a few seconds ago.

Overall, I thought it was an excellent movie. I found it quite moving.

Here's the original short, if you haven't seen it.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1185812222812358837

I think you can see why the director was picked to helm the Halo movie.

Date: 2009-08-19 03:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marcus-sez-vote.livejournal.com
Yeah I've seen that short. Gives me hope for the Halo movie! Will need to get this on DVD when it comes out.

Be well.

Date: 2009-08-19 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alberteqx.livejournal.com
Wikas felt a lot like a fairly incompetent middle-management human being being portrayed realistically, although I am incredibly glad he had the redemption via Power Armor scene. It would have veered over into territory so grim to be nearly unwatchable if the MNU simply took them away in the end. I can respect that, but I probably would never watch it again.

Oddly, Christopher struck me as a complete non-violent mechanic in the movie. Not once do I recall him actually 'killing' anyone. His reaction to Wikas blowing someone up for the first time in the MNU ("What the fuck?!") was pretty telling to him as a character. He certainly had the most positive elements of humanity throughout the entirety of it.

And yeah, parents brought children to see this when I went. Definitely not a kids movie- incredibly grim in it's realism of human bureaucracy and personal failings.

Date: 2009-08-19 08:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] its-just-me.livejournal.com
Parent's seem to think it was a regular alien film and obviously didn't read my warning. : )

Date: 2009-08-19 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_lackey_/
Think on a grander scale. You are one alien surrounded by a stronger force, a planet worth of people. You have a gun that could kill 1000 people before it ran out of ammo. You have no way home, no source of food other than those people, no hope. Do you keep a gun that will let you gloriously commit suicide, or do you sell it to fill your belly. On an individual scale, that gun is not enough to fight back.

On a grander scale, we saw maybe 10 guns and 1 set of battle armor. Lets pretend they had 10x that amount, so 100 guns and 10 sets of battle armor. That still isn't enough to defeat South Africa, never mind the world. 10,000 soldiers, 100 tanks, and 2 jets would easily defeat them. Even if they could get organized they would lose any war they fought, and be stuck in a worse situation. They cannot take and hold Johanusburg. They cannot survive in a seige or stalemate situation. They have nowhere to hide, no civilian population except themselves, no knowledge of how to survive in an earth wilderness. Escalation would do nothing for them.

Date: 2009-08-19 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paladin-of-gaia.livejournal.com
Exactly, a sick, dejected, and disorganized population with access to very finite resources, and apparently used to having some kind of leader or warrior cast protect them would make a poor resistance force. I also give some further allowances to the plot on this point since the movie is as much about about race and class as it is about aliens, if not moreso. Why the advanced widget does x and not y, or isn't used in a given way, isn't really the point of the story. In the same vein, the reason behind the transformation didn't make a huge amount of sense, but of course, the transformation was a metaphor anyway. Also, it's worth noting the line "Look, we are the same" was of course meant to poke at more global themes, that the distinctions we make between people based on skill color are foolish nonsense, rather then indicating whether Wikas was morphing into a drone or warrior alien.

Also, friending you, Lackey. :-)

Date: 2009-08-19 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marcus-sez-vote.livejournal.com
I think we saw more guns than that considering the guns that were captured by the MNU and the Nigerians, but yeah I don't imagine there are tons of them. All what you say is true, but they could conceivably set up compounds like the Nigerians and negotiate from a stronger position. I suppose there is too much government pressure for them to organize like that, but it still seemed odd to me. The behavioral argument (drones who aren't really able to do complicated actions) makes more sense to me.

Be well.

Date: 2009-08-19 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gesturejester.livejournal.com
Yeah... this movie mostly made me want to hurl. It made me want to hurl while researching long-term refugee situations and possibly sending letters and or money to various politicians/humanitarian aid (which I have yet to do), but still. Irrational calculated cruelty for no particular reason (i.e. using a random alien as a weapons testing target, acting gleefully about blowing up fetuses, trying to cut apart Wikas' body while he is still fully conscious, etc) and excessive puzzling gore, make me much less able to suspend disbelief (e.g. why does engine fuel turn Wikas into an alien... how come the aliens have incredible technology of various sorts but are in the situation they're in... what's with the catfood?)

If the humans took most of the guns before the aliens knew what's what (they were weak, malnourished, and disoriented), then I could maybe start to see the situation where the humans have the power... but it still seems like those guns never need reloading and can blow up pretty much anything.
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