Sometimes, a movie can get really, really close. Unfortunately, the closer they get, the harder they fall. Today’s fall belongs to District 9.
Insert clicking noises here
The premise is good enough: a huge alien ship hovers over the city of Johannesburg (South-Africa, wonder if it’s a coincidence we got a tourist video for the country before the trailers started). Yes, that’s not New York, Los Angeles, Paris or London – Johannesburg. Aliens are extracted from the vehicle and since they can’t seem to get along with humans due to cultural reasons, they are put into a slum – the District 9.
The movie starts out as a documentary explaining the facts above and showing off the pover lifestyle of the aliens. It then cuts to MNU (Multinational United), a big firm that’s taken charge of everything revolving around those aliens. They’ve built a camp twenty kilometres from the city – a camp they plan on moving the aliens into. In order to do that, the creatures must be evicted. And in order to accomplish that, they need a gopher, who comes in the name of Wikus Van De Merwe.
A smile is cheaper than a bullet
Now, first off, I want to say that Sharlto Copley, who plays Wikus, is a first class actor. He might start off as comic relief, but soon he is dragged through a whole range of emotions – so many that you hardly notice you’re still watching the same actor at the end. The movie is worth seeing for this guy alone. All of the other cast is good as well – as are the aliens (even if they are a tad uninspired). It’s refreshing to see a big budget film made without big budget actors.
As you would expect from a movie produced by manchild Peter Jackson (whom I greatly respect, by the way), this movie is highly entertaining and looks really good. Wikus’ adventure is a chilling one, and you’ll be going along every step of it. And when shit hits the fan and the fan hits people (who then explode into a tiny million pieces ad nauseam), you’ll love watch the cartoony violence this movie holds. It’s like being a kid again.
But wait – what was that last sentence? But weren’t we watching a documentary? Exactly. Which brings my review to a close. The thing that destroys this experience is the incoherence that surrounds it. Random parts of the movie are made in documentary style (news footage, interviews, …) whereas other parts are just your normal popcorn type experience. Why is that? Why couldn’t they decide on one style and stick with it?
District 9 is a great movie. But it’s got potential to be at least twice as good. Why they couldn’t decide on one style, I don’t know, but it’s killed it all. After I left the theatre, I even felt a bit empty and slightly angry that it went that way. I loved the first thirty minutes. I loved the story. But they couldn’t make it so that I could wholeheartedly recommend this movie to anyone without a big “but” in front of it. What a shame…