Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, January 11, 2010

Finishing the Summer Blockbuster Catch-Up

So, I recently blogged that I spent my weekend watching some rented movies: Terminator Salvation and Land of the Lost. Before the weekend ended, I had the time to sit down and watch the third summer blockbuster I was sad I missed in the theatres, District 9.

I love how District 9 came about. The writer/director, Neill Blomkamp, was originally chosen by producer Peter Jackson to direct a movie version of the video game Halo. But when Halo fell apart, Jackson went to Blomkamp and said, "Dude, I'm sorry it fell apart like that. To make up for it, here's $30 million to make whatever kind of movie you want." Blomkamp chose to make a feature-length expansion of his short film Alive in Joburg, and the end result was District 9.

So, as the story goes, a UFO appears in the skies over Johannesburg, South Africa. After many years of just sitting there, we curious humans finally break into it to find a large group of malnourished alien refugees. The people of South Africa take them in, and set them up in a ghetto known as District 9. There's all kinds of racism apparent in the humans' treatment of the aliens, and District 9 rapidly becomes a crime ridden slum. The solution: move them to a bigger, better, newer slum known as District 10.

Enter our hero, Wikus, an employee of MNU, the company in charge of the slums. It's Wikus's job to head into District 9 and start handing out eviction notices. But before long, he's infected by a mysterious alien chemical that starts mutating him into one of the aliens. Now, Wikus becomes a fugitive as he's hunted by MNU and crime lords, because Wikus could hold the secret to making the alien's advanced technology usable to humans. Wikus knows that the answers to his condition lie deep within District 9.

I had a real Terminator weekend, as I watched T2 from my personal collection, rented Terminator Salvation, and then managed to catch the first one on cable TV. District 9 has a lot in common with the first Terminator in that they are both low-budget sci-fi films, with that low budget really adding an additional layer of grit and realism. There was also the much-lauded bit of tackling real political issues as it tackled issues such as racism. But, about halfway through, I found it started getting fairly typical of the genre.

Other than that, it was really good. Let's say 3 out of 4.

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