Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Captain Craig, Aug 14, 2009.
^ Would that count as "prawnography"?
I never said using aliens instead of humans was the problem. I never even said that the core narrative or characters of the film had to change. As I said in my last response:"I found the character interactions to be quite moving. There is value to its central commentary about how humanity treats people who are different ... The film didn't have to be about South African Apartheid, but it did have to at least explicitly confront the issue somewhere in its narrative."
The story is, generally, a good one. But for a story to be taken seriously it has to take its subject matter seriously. The film still works as a solid character-driven, morality tale with action thrown in for good measure. But considering the setting and nature of the narrative, ignoring South African Apartheid undermines the film's legitimacy as a "serious" film.
I'm fully aware of Blomkamp's origins. That fact alone doesn't mean he couldn't have made a gross miscalculation in how he chose to frame his movie. How many American filmmakers have misrepresented, glossed over, or simply ignored difficult portions of U.S. history? It happens. And I believe it happened with D9.
Besides, I'm not being critical of his representation of Apartheid vis-a-vis the aliens and humans. I've already said, a couple of times now, those elements of the film work very well. I'm critical of him leaving out the historical context.
Great flick. It has so much kinetic energy that just drives throughout the entire film. I don't think I was ever bored once or looking at my watch. At times when I thought the movie was going down a cliché stereotypical route, it completely surprised me. Major props for making Wikus not a Prawn lover at first but a guy with some xenophobia and also props to co-writer/director Neill Blomkamp for making the Prawns themselves not misguided, cuddly aliens but somewhat of a force to be dealt with.
Technically, as has been said before, it's amazing this was produced for a relatively small amount (at least in Hollywood terms) at $30 million. Everything looked so authentic and tangible. The Prawns were a real discovery. Never once did I think they were CGI. That was impressive. A Best Visual Effects Oscar nomination should be a shoe-in at this point.
However, what I really loved about this film was how it took a subject, like an alien invasion, something we've all seen before, and made a message movie without coming off as contrived or preachy. It was extremely affecting, but all in the guise of a really fun summer blockbuster. In fact, this was the perfect cap to the blockbuster summer 2009 movie season. Screw G.I. Joe. In a summer of mostly dissappintments, District 9 is a shining example that you don't need big budgets, huge Hollywood stars or an established connection to a franchise or series to make a thrilling, original, captivating and genuinely moving film.
We need more films like these.
I simply loved this movie. Took me awhile to get into but my mind was blown by the end of it. I think the ending is what made it for me.
I had no idea this movie was gonna be that popular. I was taken by surprise when I walked into work today and saw the line extending down the hall waiting to get into one of the theaters for it.
It'll easily have made back its budget this weekend.
Wait, what? It doesn't mention Apartheid whatsoever? What was the point of setting it in South Africa then?
Isn't that like that SG-1 episode where they chastise the villagers-of-the-week for being racist when the only black member of the team isn't even from Earth?
Oh well... maybe it's meant to be subtle allegory or something.
Gee, ya think?
Anyway, great movie!
Reading over some of the comments I agree with Samuel Walters and firehawk12. It bothered me while watching the film that apartheid was never mentioned. I'm not comfortable with the excuse of apartheid being solely represented by the aliens, so therefore you don't have to or shouldn't have address it in the film. I would've liked to have seen how the arrival of the aliens impacted the apartheid system. Why base it during apartheid era South Africa and not address apartheid?
I also had some issues with how blacks/Africans were portrayed. The Nigerians were depicted as savages and the few 'respectable' blacks-namely Wikus's chief assistant and the guard were clearly subordinates, with the guard even calling Wikus 'boss' all the time. That rankled me a bit. There were also scenes with blacks and aliens 'living' together or in proximity with each other in shanty towns, and it's never explained why is that, or why there were no whites living in those conditions. Except for the MNU representative and one clip of a female doctor, whites were clearly in charge in SA. Why is that? Apartheid, which was never addressed. Just not discussing it, or even mentioning, made me feel like the social conditions of blacks and whites in this film were just the way things were without any external causes and that didn't sit well with me.
Despite my misgivings I enjoyed the film, for what it was, but I think the avoidance of dealing with apartheid undermined the social message of this film. Overall I thought it was well written, well acted, the FX were good, esp. the prawns, and it's one of the better sci-fi films I've seen in a while. However, my enjoyment was dampened by the omission of apartheid and the depiction of blacks as a whole.
Well, honestly, there's a way to do subtle without being SyFy about it. They don't need a random black character go, "YOU DID THIS TO US AND NOW YOU'RE DOING IT TO THEM", but all they needed to do was just have a black character identify with the aliens.
I frakking loved it. It managed to be an engaging blockbuster while still being thought-provoking at the same time, and I can't remember the last time I saw a movie that succeeded at both so well.
It seems some people have a cartoonish idea of how to present "serious" issues. This also reinforces something I mentioned to my SO who is from South Africa: "I wonder how many people will assume that because the film is based in SO, it is required to be a heavy commentary on Aparteid?"
It's like Americans/westerners have this thing where they stereotype every other culture into like 3 "important" issues and believe every time that culture is mentioned the framework for viewing it has to hinge upon those issues.
District 9 does not need to wave a flag with "APARTEID!" on it. There is this thing called subtle irony. The story gets its message across just fine by demonstrating that everyone, of every race and descent, in South Africa is treating the aliens as second rate life forms - the fact that it is SOUTH AFRICA doing this should be all the irony and on-target message you need. The movie does not need a disclaimer at the beginning that says "THIS IS A SERIOUS POLITICAL COMMENTARY. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. I WANT AN OSCAR BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT PREJUDICE."
No, I'm tired of movies being that on-the-nose.
I agree 100% with Kajima.
Keep in mind the documentary that provided the basis of the story was probably friendly to the government and the general sentiment of the population.
The problem is that it becomes erasure. Although, I do accept the premise that being a part of government documentary, it would make sense to erase the problematic parts of history.
Sort of like WW2 propaganda videos not mentioning Japanese internment or segregated armies, I suppose.
I thought it was pretty good myself, if a bit... one-note.
The story it told, it told well, but somehow from the reviews I was expecting something a little more complex and multi-layered. There didn't seem to be much more to it than "The way these aliens are being treated is wrong!" which it then hammered away at for another 2 hours. And it did become too much of a conventional scifi/action movie at the end.
Still though, I did appreciate that the main character wasn't just your standard, noble good guy. And the journey he goes on IS pretty compelling.
Haven't seen it yet, so I'm avoiding spoilers, but I just thought I'd mention that District 9 was #1 at the box office on its opening day. Early estimates have it taking in $14,185,000 on Friday, far more than the other major release of the week, The Time Traveler's Wife. It also made almost twice as much as last week's champ, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, despite the fact that Joe has nearly a thousand more locations than District 9.
Considering the film's $30 million price-tag, that's pretty impressive. I will concur with Doggeh and say that it will easily make back its budget this weekend.
Let this be a lesson to Hollywood: You don't need to have a lot of money for a hit.
Which is ironic since Halo was supposed to cost something idiotic... what did MS want? A 200 million budget?
I think it would've been more like 1 Billion.
Peope should also consider that District 9 takes place in an alternate world where aliens appeared over South America twenty years ago. With that in mind, not everything can be related to actual events.
I decided to go ahead and rate this one 'excellent'. The movie was well made. I'm surprised that it only cost $30 million. I guess it can be done. Makes me wonder why everything else costs close to $200 million.
- At the beginning, I thought the movie was overly raw and distgusting, but as it progressed, the film's heart came through and the disgust went away. And I too felt more sympathy for the Prawns in the end. They did a good job of portraying them as dirty animals at the start, then ultimately "humanizing" them in a very significant way through that one character.
- Switching from documentary style to full-on movie style, then back to documantary style was a bit awkward.
- I was surprised that they threw in an "Iron Man" sequence. It was a bit clichéd, but good. At least the suit wasn't totally indestructible.
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