I’ll get the obvious remarks out of the way first—District 9 was brilliantly made, had wonderful special effects, had believable aliens with distinct personalities, had entertaining action and bla, bla, bla. In short, technically speaking, District 9 was made the way movies are supposed to be made.
There, now that that’s done with, I can focus on what I’m really interested in—the social messages the movie is trying to push.
The military and everyone in it is evil. This is the major theme of the movie. All military characters in the film lack any conflict whatsoever. They are simply caricatures. The lead military villain even went so far as to say, and I quote, “I just LOVE killing prawns” (prawns being the derogatory label given to all aliens). Who says that? I don’t even think Hitler would say that. Can you imagine Hitler standing in a concentration camp, licking his lips and saying, “I just LOVE killing Jews!” Come on.
Some movies at least attempt to show the military’s side, to show some soldiers with conflicted emotions, or some ounce of goodness. But no, not with District 9. Every man who wields a gun is mindless, heartless and a species…-ist, who loves killing. Great message we are sending to our troops.
Guns are baaad. In the movie, a private contracting company (I see what you did there) runs the “alien relocation” movement, for the sole purpose of stealing alien weapons (which humans can’t use) for… profit? It’s all about finding alien guns an stealing alien guns, then experimenting on aliens to find a way for humans to use aliens guns. Guns, guns, guns. There is even a moment when one of the social workers says, “Where there are weapons, there is crime”. Uh, really? Gee, so I suppose before guns there was no crime. Oh, that’s right, they had swords and arrows and stuff back then. Ok, so before iron/bronze/stone-age weapons there was no crime, right? Oh, that’s right, men are still equipped with fists. So if men just didn’t have hands there would be no crime, right?
Weapons are not the reason there is crime. People are the reason there is crime. Any time you skip over the cause to wage a crusade against something else, you do not fix the issue, and instead cause demagoguery.
Africans have no morals and are backward. That’s right, the alien ship appears over Nigeria, and Nigerian scammers (I again see what you did there…) set up prostitution rings and trade… um, cat food, for alien weapons. Not only that, but the Nigerians have voodoo priests who cast spooky spells and convince each other that if you eat the aliens you can absorb their power. And when it never works I guess they just… uh, did it wrong… that time. So Nigerians are stupid too? Whew, this is getting tense.
Cat Food. What on EARTH is with the cat food? In the movie, aliens are driven batty by cat food. Cat food is to aliens what catnip is to cats. But cat food is just meat, and each cat food manufacturer makes their cat food a little differently. What is this magic ingredient that is amazingly found in all cat food that makes the aliens batty over it? Once you discover it, why not just give the aliens that? Come on.
Action and SFX are all you need. If District 9 is a lesson at all, it’s that you don’t need your plot to make sense to sell tickets. Let’s go over the major plot wtfs:
- The alien ship. Why did it come to earth? How did it get stranded above earth for 20 years? Are there no other ships from that obviously space-traveling species that can come and save their friends?
- The aliens. Why were they starving to death in the ship? Why did no alien leaders talk with humans and tell them why they came? Why did they allow themselves to be taken off the mother ship and placed in slums, when they have superior speed, strength and natural armor compared to humans?
- The weapons. So, the alien ship was filled with super-awesome alien weapons that only aliens can use. And the humans cut a hole in the ship and forced the aliens into slums. Why didn’t the aliens use the weapons to fight of the humans? As we see in the climax, one alien with alien weapons blasts into a military facility, kills dozens of humans, kills dozens of Nigerians, kills dozens of more military men, and blows up lots of tanks. Forgive me for asking, but if the military keeps invading the slums in order to steal these super-awesome alien weapons away from the poor, underprivileged, captivated aliens who would fight and kill, as they prove at the end, to get out of the slums… why don’t the aliens just use their own weapons? Why do I have to even ask this question? Why doesn’t the blasted movie explain?
- The plot hole. So, one alien spends 20 years collecting super-special alien fluid so he can start up some sort of alien transport vehicle so he can reach the mother ship. Ok that’s all fine and good, except that humans have helicopters and a way to get to that ship any time they want. Why must the alien wait 20 years? Why don’t they just steal a human helicopter with their super-awesome alien weapons they refuse to use? Ok, so maybe the ship needs the special alien fluid in order to work. That is also fine, except for that the mother ship magically moved on its own without the need of the fluid before the smaller ship even docked with it. Wut?
So yeah, I’m frustrated and confused after watching District 9. Still, I am glad I went. It had great action. It had great SFX. And for those reasons alone, I will gladly see District 10 when it comes out.
But I’m still annoyed.