Sunday, May 16, 2010
Joie' De Vivre On Celliloid: District 9
Sharlto Copley plays the South African with no real street smarts and a smokin' wife, Wikus van der Merwe. He gives us a real character with thoughts, feelings, functions, and a working brain. A brain that reasons and eventually steers him away from earlier, poorer, and less kind and understanding thoughts and default answers to his situations. Or maybe it's because he has no choice but to pair up with an alien buddy and take the control back in his life?
Here is my review on the Sci-Fi/drama/black comedy/action/thriller/political/morality-tale film, District 9.
This film in a large context, is about the ignorance of how unintentional pure badness (yeah that's right, badness) can slip into your veins, and then how standing in front of that gun Tony Stark's you into thinking about the picture a little differently. In a sense, Wikus van der Merwe see's it the way a child would, not thinking intently on the consequences with zero of his morality coming into play. And just like a child, in elementary school before we realize that others have feelings and souls, he very innocently, but while still doing this, taunts, teases and treats the aliens as... well... aliens. As creatures with no real significance as sentient beings, there fore, merely herds of animals. Or as they call them derogatorily, Prawns. For their resemblance to the Parktown prawn, a king cricket species considered a plague in South Africa.
Half hour later, under government scrutiny for reasons I won't spoil, his lyrics are different when he changes his tune to this, shouting, "I'm not shooting that fawkin' Prawn! Ya hear?! He didn't do anything to you!"
When faced with a threat, not unlike the aliens, Wikus (or more to that point humans) will curse, drop their homely and friendly appearance, and run and fight. Wikus also proved to me, that no real experience standing in front of a camera, means nothing about your ability to act in front of one. I bet (if you didn't know already), if I told you this guy was a first time actor, you'd have a little trouble eating your ham sandwich believing that. But it's the truth. Copley, produced and acted in the short, Alive In Joburg. A short film which Blomkamp used as a stepping stone for District 9. Jackson hired him and brought him in to shoot this film. Coming from television commercials and shorts, this was his first feature film for both him, and lead actor Copley. Who deserves the utmost in praise for carrying the whole film on his back and doing a superb job. We see the irony and transformation in Wikus. The less human Wikus gets, the more humane he becomes.
Christopher Johnson, a local "Prawn" has his own plan in mind for him and his race, until Wikus comes-a-knockin' on his door. And then they both end up getting reamed in the poop-shooter by the other one, essentially.
There are one or two things in this movie, like Wikus being accused of sexual relations (or inter-species sex) with the aliens (there's actually a reason for that--but still), or an alien publicly urinating while wearing a pink bra for no apparent reason (funny as it was), that sort of cause me for a fleeting moment to question the integrity of this script. And then I realized, it's a damn movie, and their just having some fun. So I said, bravo and a'salude. And moved on from it with a smile.
Watching this film, makes me sad about what could have been in the universe of Halo with Blomkamp at the helm. He even cranked out a most terrific short titled Halo: Landfall. But none the less, Jackson ushered him into the right thing to bounce back from, and he turned in a truly fantastical film. A film about social/racial/species segregation, apartheid allusions, xenophobia and government morality and accountability. This film, which was easily the biggest sleeper hit in recent years, picked up 4 Oscar nod's on top of turning a 30 milli budget into 200 million dollars worldwide. Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Editing. I'm sure, never in their wildest dreams could they imagine that. Or maybe, they figured 'cuz Jackson is an awesome producer, they'd get pretty far. I had hopes from the start. The visual effects in this film were very staggering, making me think back to the Jurassic Park series. In how, like the dinosaurs, these aliens seem to walk and jump the earth (and angrily push other people and spit curses out) as real as you or I. Which is the last reason I need to give this films 3.5 out of 4 'Nanas.