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13 October 2009

District 9

Damn, and they say I’m a misanthrope.

I’m not sure what to write about that one, as I think I was very much a victim of the whole buzz about this movie and the expectations it had created. Truth is, I wouldn’t join the chorus to say this was a great science-fiction film. What I’d call it is a very good double Doctor Who episode. It’s not like the plot is very interesting, and the characters are even worse (quite intentionally, too). The movie basically stops at its premise, which is excellent and does merit its movie treatment, but there’s so much that could have been done if the writers hadn’t stopped there.

I’m surprised that somehow I didn’t end up being as bothered by the obviousness of the Apartheid allegory as I thought I would be — maybe I got used to it in advance, or maybe it just works in context (and is just taking itself seriously enough to pass). Clearly, the mock-documentary style helps a lot. However, I thought people were nitpicky when they complained about how the movie just abandons the journalists’ point of view when it becomes too inconvenient for the story’s progression, but it happens much earlier than I expected and is indeed quite jarring and inelegant… even though it’s clear to see that’s exactly what they were trying to avoid. Making more of a show of the transition would have helped. Ah, and I’ll take this opportunity to note that I hate movies that rely too much on the gross factor to shock the audience — you know, how vomit is the new gore. But I’d like to mention in passing how coherent the design of the prawn mecha is. Sorry, geek moment here.

I wouldn’t be as quick as some to point that movie as evidence that you can make a good sci-fi flick with a relatively low budget: clearly, the lack of funds shows in how you stay mostly confined within the slums, and it’s easily explained by the plot itself but still hurts the movie’s ending a bit: when you’re essentially going to pad your short film out with a whole hour of action, it does help to have a budget that allows you to really throw things around and maintain the scope of the story. Two million prawns, remember?

 

Also…

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Nevermind the usual ten-year-old genius geek who can fix everything (god I hate that trope with such a passion). Could you please just tell me WHY THE HELL WOULD EXPOSURE TO FUEL TURN SOMEONE INTO A PRAWN?

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