District 9

(update of a previous post – original is here)

Data
Title: District 9
Year: 2009
Length: 112 minutes
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writers: Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell
Starring: Sharlto Copley
Music: Clinton Shorter
Distinctions: Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects and Best Editing; currently #102 on IMDb’s Top 250

My reaction
Synopsis: a million aliens stranded on Earth are kept in a South African slum
How I saw it: in the theater, August 2009; on video (rented from Netflix), yesterday
Concept: Great.
Story: Bad.
Characters: Terrible. The character development doesn’t make a lot of sense; the main human character does a moral 180 in the space of about five minutes. And they go out of their way to establish just how alien these aliens’ culture is, but then the two alien characters we get to know are not at all alien, but instead have (Western) human cultural mores (and are the only such characters in the movie) and behave like Hollywood protagonists.
Dialog: Good.
Pacing: Good.
Cinematography: Bad.
Special effects/design: Indifferent. The special effects are better than you might expect for this kind of movie, but I’m prejudiced against CGI (at least, when it looks like CGI).
Acting: Good.
Music: Indifferent.
Subjective Rating: 6/10 (Okay). Strange – the first time I saw it, I thought it was a great, if flawed, movie. But now, I’m wondering what I saw in it. I had written that it was “lots of fun” and “entertaining throughout.” Now, I find it boring; although it moves quickly, there isn’t anything to get me invested in it – probably because I know that after the first five minutes, there aren’t going to be any more interesting ideas to look forward to. I had also written that it was “very original” and that “you’ve never seen a movie like this before.” I guess that’s so, but apparently the novelty only stands up to one viewing. I have no doubt that I would like it even less if I were to see it again. And I wrote that “whether or not you think it’s good, it will probably get you thinking and talking about it afterward.” This time around, it’s got me thinking about how such a great idea for a movie, made without studio interference, manages to fail as spectacularly as it does.
Objective Rating: 2.1/4 (Okay).

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