District 9: A Review

If you’ve seen a science fiction movie in the last couple decades, and I have, then you know the direction of this movie. If you’ve ever seen a science fiction movie initially depict an alien race as subhuman creatures, then you know the direction that this movie is going to take. If you follow politics at all, and you’re aware of the direction that most Hollywood producers prefer to take, then you know the direction this movie is going to take.

I hate seeing previews. I try to avoid them in theaters and in television commercials, because I can usually tell the direction a plot line will take based solely on the previews. If I watched every preview, and I read all of the movie reviews that were available on the net, I wouldn’t see movies anymore, and I love movies.

I didn’t love this movie. I liked it. I liked the buildup to the arc of the story, I liked the mystery and the motivations of characters, and I liked the overall aura of the movie in the buildup. The buildup was careful and methodical. You were introduced to a world most of us don’t know involved in an event that none of us know. The buildup was a careful set of interviews and news reports dictating to you that an unprecedented event had occurred. The aliens were depicted as inhuman creatures that everyone hated. This is where the theme of the plot was revealed. Even though it occurred in Johannesburg, South Africa, you would’ve had to have avoided all science fiction movies for the last few decades to think this wasn’t going to be a commentary on xenophobia or racism or something about our modern dilemma with illegal aliens. We soon learn, of course, that the aliens have a vocabulary. We soon learn that they have needs and wants and that they protect their young, and that their primary goal in life is freedom or equality or for us to treat them in the manner that we want to be treated.

The humans are soon revealed as small minded, short-sighteded in regard to the plight of the aliens. The aliens have (of course!) have simple needs that we cannot abide by in our pursuit of greed and militaristic advancement. The primary alien learns of our nature and our ideas, and it is driven even harder to succeed in it’s goal of some form of retribution or salvation of it’s people. I’m trying hard not to give anything away here, but it’s hard to provide a proper review without giving away some of the nuggets.

The main human is changed in ways he could never have foreseen in that he was once a participant in the human ideas and goals, but he did not see the true extent to which our species was willing to go, until he saw it for himself. Through a series of circumstances, he is placed smack dab in the middle of what the aliens have been experiencing in Johannesburg for decades. This gives him empathy, and he has a resolve to fight against the evil humans for which he is personally attached to some who betray him.

About halfway through this movie, I thought it might escape some of the cliches to which all science fiction movies seem to fall prey, and when I walked out of the movie I flirted with the notion that they had to some small degree. Now that I’ve had a day to chew on it, I must regretfully inform you that it’s just a typical sci-fi movie.

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