Betsy Speicher

District 9 (2009)

Rate this Movie   11 votes

  1. 1. Artistic Merit

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  2. 2. Sense of Life or Personal Value

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7 posts in this topic

"What a mob! Is there anyone - anyone - here with a mind - a mind of his own?"

This was the line playing in my head during the movie. It wasn't until the end that I began to suspect it may be the theme.

If you can stomach the gritty presentation of slummy shantytowns, and can overlook bloody depictions of savagery, yet seek affirmation of a conceptual being's values, you'll probably find something to like in District 9. The group, no matter the "race," is the mob; the only nobility is the rational individual.

The effects team renders alien life in shockingly realistic images. The production is top-notch, and the acting, uniformly powerful. A new storytelling star (director Neill Blomkamp) is born.

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I saw it yeasterday, and I agree that it is very good, very powerful, and very well filmed.

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This is a poorly made film. A friend I saw it with called it the worst movie ever made. I disagree, but then again I've seen some really bad movies.

Some of the acting was good. There were some nice little twists. Most special effects were terrific, which, given the director's prior experience, should be expected.

The fatal flaw is the overall direction and story.

Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

The movie jumps between two perspectives: a live-action action movie ("Thriller" is a stretch) and a faux documentary. This is a very bad and fatal decision by the director. It breaks the movie every time the perspective shifts.

The story is a problem as well. There's a VERY slow buildup at first, then things abruptly end without resolving questions or the conflicts. The aliens up and leave, and then we cut to an interview in which we hear concern about what comes next. No, this is not an effective or cute trick.

// End Spoilers

Two thumbs way, way down on this one.

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District 9 is what happens when -Independence Day- meets -Alien Nation- on a blind date. The plot was full of holes, but the technical effects were o.k. What I found most amusing about the move was listening to all those icksints.

Bob Kolker

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I thought that District 9 was an OK, but not great, critique of xenophobia, which is of course a variant of collectivism. So I thought, for that reason, that the movie "did more good than harm".

I do think that this movie communicated the idea that racism is a form of racism, but that may be because I "already knew it". I am not certain if a typical, non-Objectivist viewer would have "got" the message that racism is a form of collectivism.

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This movie is actually one of the better movies I've seen in recent years. However, based on some of the posts here, I think a careful analysis of what is actually happening in this movie needs to occur.

First, there is the narrative of our bumbling bureaucrat. His character arc and story carry the bulk of movie's message. It is a simple tale of state endorsed dehumanism. Keep in mind, I didn't say racism. This is important, because racism is only a form of dehumanization. For this movie, the issue of race is removed for the most part to focus on the "prawns" as the aliens are referred to. Our hero starts with the state line but is forced to rethink this position and take the side of the prawns if for nothing else to gain his humanity back.

A secondary story is about a few of the aliens trying to regain their technology to escape Earth and return home. This story merges with the first in the second and third acts but is not a complete story by itself. This storyline is in here as a means of describing the forthcoming repercussions. But in and of itself, it only serves to bolster the wrong-ness of the dehumanization. Here we have a technologically advanced society that is reduced to living is squalor and eating cat food and surviving off the scraps of those who would exploit them. All the while, they have advanced technology that lies out of reach the humans.

The third element or story is the documentary format that weaves in and out of the film. It is here for nothing more than providing a context for the viewer that the issue being described is old, but the view of the government has not changed. Or maybe more clearly; despite everything that has happened, nothing has changed.

This is not an easy movie to watch. It is filled with graphic violence and shocking savagery. At times it almost seems to revel in the gore like early Peter Jackson films. But I really think what you are seeing here is an attempt to shock the viewer into truly seeing the brutality of dehumanization.

Worth the watch, I highly recommend.

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