Thursday, August 27, 2009


A Landmark Sci-fi Film that will be Remembered for Generations to Come
By Reymundo Salao

28 years ago, a gigantic alien mothership appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Everybody's expectations were off track, as the world was surprised that this ship was filled with aliens who were malnourished, sickly, and disoriented. These aliens were given a refugee camp just below the hovering, immobile mothership, a camp which is referred to as District 9, which houses all these aliens on Earth. After 28 years, the intolerance over the alien presence has ran out and these aliens have become a pest to the human society around District 9, and the humans begin to exercise prejudice against the aliens and employed a manner of segregation that will finally evict these aliens into a camp farther from the main city.

It has been called Monumental, Groundbreaking, and a True Instant Classic (and has been given a “Better than Sex” rating by It is only in very rare moments when we get a sci-fi movie this good. One that is destined to be embedded in the annals of cinema. DISTRICT 9 is a work that is original in all aspects, in storyline and in cinematic style. This is sci-fi grounded in reality, by creating a scenario that this might have happened in real life. Just like the short film from which it was based on (entitled “Alive in Joburg”), the director employs some documentary-style filmmaking (mockumentary is the exact term for the style actually, as was used in movies like The Blair Witch Project, & This is Spinal Tap) In effect, the movie creates a scenario that makes all these things in its storyline very realistic. Right from the beginning of the movie, you are being drawn into a realistic “what if aliens did actually land on Earth” situation, which is very effective. It should be noted, however, that the mockumentary aspect is only in some parts, and eventually reverts into being a story that focuses on characters faced with certain situations.

District 9's main character is a very flawed character. He is not exactly morally upright, he's clumsy, and oftentimes annoying. In obvious reasons, he even is a selfish character. An unlikely protagonist, but is a very efficient plot device to spice up the story. Most movies these days are just very predictable, but District 9 is not like that. It is very unpredictable. I myself was buzzed with its tense atmosphere because you really do not know what will happen next and you have no idea what will be the fates of these characters in it. As the film unfolds, you realize that the humans aren’t exactly as nice as we may wish to think of ourselves to be. We begin to see how the humans are very prejudiced, and often cruel to the aliens. Then we are led to a scenario where we see the aliens go through a maltreatment that is horrific and disturbing. What is likewise horrific and disturbing is that these things could and would make sense in reality as to how we humans and our institutions work. Sure, we see aliens in this movie, but they may well be a metaphoric representation of the Jews during the World War 2 era when they were being victimized by the Nazis. These aliens may be metaphoric representations of the victims of Apartheid, and of other racial and xenophobic injustices that actually occur in many parts of the world. And the message has quite an emotionally impact. There is a point in the movie that makes you root for the aliens and wish that the first 30 minutes of the movie Independence Day would just happen all of the sudden. But if Blomkamp did want to send out a message about prejudice and humanity, he was doing it effectively in a subliminal manner. The film was never ever preachy. It sends out an idea and a message, but it does not say it with boring academic ways, but does it via action and dramatic impact.

So after it gives you this mild social commentary, after it feeds you with profound stuff to ponder on and give you this slice of wisdom, the film immediately proclaims, okay, it is now time to see some glorious explosions and breathtaking action sequences. The movie has this cinematically ideal growing progression, from a dialogue-rich introduction, to minor suspense and thriller, and it leads up to a very spectacular action (a movie that you should watch right from the beginning to the end, and not just walk in the middle, out of sequence). The screen immediately becomes a war zone. Not only does this movie stand out as a good movie in terms of cinematic quality, but also by making a film out of a 30 million budget (which is a very small budget when we are talking about action-adventure Hollywood movies) and making it look like it was more than a hundred million dollar movie. The effects were more than effective, the creatures were photo-realistic, and the explosions were more than enough to fill your eyes with awe.

The best movies are always defined by how balanced it is. Movies that are almost perfect have that flawless balance of a really smart, really meaningful storyline, and spectacular eye candy. This movie really is a landmark movie in the history of sci-fi film history. This is the kind of movie that will still be talked about in film history for decades to come. This is your one chance to watch in the big screen a movie that will soon be remembered as a timeless classic.

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