In Search of Aliens

I did some research, found a Time Magazine cover with the headline "ALIENS HAVE LANDED!" and the subtitle "Sci-Fi makes a comback." Tonight, I saw a magazine cover that also talked about aliens. Something about "Nasa is trying to make contact."

Someone should tell them aliens are already here, that they've been here for 20 years, and that they desperately want to go home.

I, of course, am talking about Peter Jackson's new movie, District 9.

A lot of people have been saying D-9 was not all it's cracked up to be, but a friend of mine marked it as one of the top 15 movies he thought would stay with him, and I agree. I thought it was beautiful.

Basically, the movie is what I stated before. Aliens have come to earth and we won't let them go home. By itself, on the surface, it's kind of a lame idea. Yes, it's somewhat groundbreaking in that it's a role reversal, but other than that, the idea is kind of... boring. And, I'll be the first to admit that it's slow... and out of the 5 people I've seen the movie with, only 1 of them loved it as much as I did. Everyone else complained it was too slow... and if the movie had been done by Michael Bay, I'm sure it would have moved along much faster and been much more "exciting."

Then again, you would not have been able to tell what was going on, and the inevitable sequel would suck.

And, for the type of movie it was, the slow pace added something to it.


So... going in, I wasn't really into this movie. Peter Jackson and I had had a mild falling out and, since he will be directing The Lovely Bones (due out later this year), I didn't want to risk another disappointment. Not to mention, I knew nothing about it. This was my impression of the trailer:




That was it. Apparently there was another trailer that said more... but no. I didn't get anything more out of it... and the other major robot movie of the summer was basically fail. *coughmichaelbaycough*

But, I waited till other people saw it, and 2 of my friends - who's opinions of movies I greatly respect - said it was good, so I went to see it. And I'm glad I did.

District 9 is shot in a sort of documentary, hand held camera sort of way, so immediately I was into it. The cast was made up largely of unknown actors, so that was another plus.

It opens with a few commentators, talking about when the aliens arrived and what first contact was like. (SPOILER - It was nothing glamorous.) It then introduces you to what District 9 is and soon you're introduced to MNU and Wikus Van De Merwe. Wikus is leading a special group of MNU agents as they serve the aliens in District 9 with eviction notices. The people of Johanassburg no longer want the aliens near them, so they are being relocated to another "better" facility.

This is where the real point of the movie is revealed: The aliens are stuck on our planet, and are victims of HUGE world wide racism. They are stuck in District 9, which has basically been turned into a slum, and are forced to leave simply because majority of the humans don't want to be around them. They've even acquired their own derogatory term: "prawns."

We follow Wikus and MNU throughout District 9 as they force the aliens to sign eviction notices at gun point. At one point, they shoot a number of the aliens simply for grouping outside, and at another, they find a shack full of alien eggs, and they set the thing on fire. "Do you hear that popping sound? It's like... like popcorn." (I was really glad I didn't eat popcorn during the film).

After the first 30 minutes, it's clear that the aliens are not valued at ALL... they're treated a lot like the Jews were during WW2.

During his searching of one of the shacks, Wikus finds something that basically ruins his day, and sets the movie rolling. As time goes on, we see Wikus as he embarks on a rollercoaster of emotions, as his character is shaped and formed through out the movie.

On a side note, the character development with Wikus was AMAZING. There were areas where he began to feel for the aliens, where his character became less racist. But, it showed in other instances that it was hard for him to let go of his racist nature. Through out the movie, you loved him AND hated him.

As Wikus embarks on his rollercoaster, we are also introduced to one of the aliens, Christopher Johnson, and his son. (This is where I point out the irony of the human's name vs. the alien's name)

This movie does everything it can to hit you in the emotion spot. They show you how the aliens are, how they don't deserve the racism against them. You see how they have relationships - friendships, family - and you hurt for them when they're murdered.

More than anything, there are HUGE similarities between Wikus and Christopher. Both have their reasons to be frightened of MNU, both are struggling to keep their families together, both are embarking on their journey for someone they love. It further supports how unfounded the racism against the aliens are.

As the movie progresses, Wikus and Christopher team up to retrieve an object that will make it possible to send Christopher home, and fix Wikus' bad day.

I'll stop the story break down there, so as not to give out too much of the movie... so I'll wrap up the review with this:

In my opinion, don't go to the movie for the action. There is a fair amount, but the movie is basically about racism. It's the emotions that make the movie, not the action.

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