Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Science fiction is one of my favourite genres, though well-made sci-fi films are not common. District 9 is one of the most highly acclaimed sci-fi films in a very long while (though Moon was highly acclaimed and deservedly so). So forgive me for thinking Star Wars or Alien or Dark City or Close Encounters or Blade Runner or Minority Report or even Planet of the Apes.
How do you turn a brilliant original opening half hour of sci-fi into a tedious same old same old violent shoot-em-up? You make District 9! Can everyone hear me say: “I’m DISAPPOINTED ! (like Kevin Kline of course)? This film had so much going for it (Neill Blomkamp, are you listening?): brilliant acting (standout performance by Sharlto Copley – bet you never heard of him before), great music, fantastic special effects, and, in the opening forty minutes, lots of wit, intelligence and pointed satire, condemning our treatment of refugees, the arms industry, racism, the media, and on and on. Great stuff! And then comes the second half of the film. Sorry, guys, you can’t successfully turn invention into a gory redemptive-violence bloodfest no matter what you’re trying to say or how sympathetic the characterisation. There were so many things wrong with the last half of this film that I wouldn’t know where to start. Of course, some things were wrong from the start. Grainy hand-held cinematography – need I say more? There’s also a disturbing, though ultimately forgivable, lack of logic in the attempt to pretend that most of the film was being videotaped live in a mockumentary style.
What is ultimately NOT forgivable is that this film is so highly-acclaimed. I just want to scream! If films like District 9 and Star Trek and The Hangover get such acclaim and are also popular (and yes, I could throw Slumdog in there too, though I liked it more than the others), then filmmakers are just going to make more of this stuff. We need more sci-fis like Moon (and all those mentioned above) and fewer sci-fis like District 9.
District 9 could have been a great film but it died halfway and gets only *** for the excellent first half.
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