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Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

District 9 opens with an overview of the situation at hand.  Years prior, a spaceship full of half-starved, desperate aliens coasted to a stop over Johannesburg, South Africa.   Presented with over a million aliens to care for, the South African government contracts with a corporation called MNU to set up facilities for the aliens.   Before long, the refugee camp becomes a permanent slum.   Human/alien tensions rise, crime soars, and anti-alien laws are enacted.

Given the awful nickname of “prawn”, the aliens are corralled into District 9, where gangsters prey on their poverty and desperation and MNU schemes to harness the aliens’ weaponry for their own ends.

District 9 utilizes the style of a documentary and introduces us to Wikus van der Merwe, an affable kind of guy with a great wife and a father-in-law in charge at MNU.   Wikus is the sort of guy who is the perpetually cheery, socially stunted sort of coworker you don’t like to get stuck in an elevator with.   He’s charged with getting eviction papers signed by all aliens before they are moved to District 10, a new “settlement” for the aliens.  While investigating an alien dwelling, Wikus is sprayed with some sort of black substance, which causes him to begin changing into a prawn.   He is taken into MNU custody, escapes, and runs to District 9 where he begins to seek answers about his condition.   Christopher, an alien with a small child, tells him the black substance will power the ship hovering over Johannesburg and they must get it back.   If they get it back, Wikus can be cured.

My main concern with District 9 was that the CGI would be distracting, as is so often the case, but the prawns are beautifully rendered and look as realistic as it gets, to be quite honest.   Wikus’ transformation from man to prawn is equally realistic, as if he’s Brundlefly without the exuberance at his transformation.

In fact, District 9 is one hell of a finely crafted sci-fi movie.  Wikus van der Merwe is horrifically, realistically human; Wikus condescends to the prawns even when he needs their help, constantly is looking out for his own interests and is only willing to make a change (albeit a slow, agonizing change) after witnessing the horrors that MNU, and by proxy, he has participated in.   Wikus is an incredibly flawed, at times unsympathetic character, but Neil Blomkamp boosts the character with the portrayal that all Wikus really wants is to get home to his wife, who he loves beyond measure.

District 9 is an unlikely Hollywood film.  Made in South Africa, featuring unknown actors and featuring a cast of humans who are the very worst kind of human and aliens that are probably the most human, it’s the kind of movie that got legs somewhere and it’s good that it did.   Sharlto Copley does a hell of a job breathing life into Wikus and Neil Blomkamp shoots the whole thing beautifully.   It may be weird to say, but my favorite character in the whole shebang is Christopher’s young son, who may be the most adorable alien ever put to film.

A very solid entry into the science fiction genre, I would imagine you’ll see District 9 on many “top sci-fi movies” lists in the future.  If we were running on the star rating here, I’d give it 4/5.

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OH, WHAT THE HELL, ROLAND EMMERICH?

WHAT. THE. HELL.

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10,000 BC is a fine example of technical achievement gone awfully wrong.  Sure, there’s breathtaking landscapes and detailed CGI animals of years gone by, but the setting makes no sense.   Emmerich must have taken a history book and thrown it in a blender, because I can’t even make heads or tails of what the hell he’s managed to piece together.

10,000 BC tells the story of a tribe who lives in the mountains in the days of prehistoric man.   They hunt woolly mammoth and rely on an old woman for advice about hunting and other prehistoric stuff, like building huts made out of logs and bits of mud, and building fires.   That’s all, really, that these people seem to do.

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The hunting tribe finds a young girl with strange blue eyes who is the last of her tribe.   Her tribe and family were slaughtered by some mysterious dudes on horses, so this can’t bode well for anyone else.   The old woman instructs the tribe that the blue eyed girl will help fulfill a great prophecy and that she is very important.

This is where the real set of problems begins.

The story centers around Evolet – the blue-eyed girl – and D’Leh, a hunter in the tribe who fall in love with one another.   This is where I start to question someone’s rational thought process.

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These people do not look prehistoric.

They look like homeless rastafarians.

This is where this movie fails miserably.   The basic principle of a large, grandiose epic like this is kind of a big sham.   No one goes to see these kinds of movies for the historical accuracy, but people want to feel like they’ve witnessed something vaguely historically accurate.   Take Gladiator, for instance.   There’s a lot of historically wrong stuff there, but that’s not necessarily the point.  It feels real and the story is good.   People pay to see these movies in large part to be deceived.

If you can’t even manage to deceive your audience for one moment…that’s kind of sad.

There’s just some things my brain can’t take, like the concept of pyramids built by woolly mammoths.   Yeah, there’s that.   Then there’s the stupidly trite love story; Evolet is kidnapped by the same guys that killed her family, and D’Leh is forced to save her.  It’s a gaping mess.   The story doesn’t keep you focused because from the first scenes, you already know how D’Leh and Evolet’s story will end.  Not even the computer trickery lends a hand here, because the filmmakers have thrown such an odd, random assortment of crap at you that you can tell it’s crap, no matter how stylized and glitzy it is.

It’s preposterous.   D’Leh and Evolet aren’t simple prehistoric folk; they’re merely cardboard cutouts of simple prehistoric folk, and even the most uncaring viewer can sense that.

It’s an absurd mess of a movie which is only capitalized by the fact that when you think about it, the worst of the worst that I’ve seen on here has been made for mere pittances.  This is an overblown, under-thought piece of egotistical insanity that cost millions and millions of dollars.

The pittance films I can excuse.  In an industry that watches the bottom line on films, you really have to wonder how a large group of people seriously thought this was an excellent movie to make.   What’s more depressing is that people sunk money hand over fist into this, enough money that would constitute a Powerball jackpot and for what?

Woolly mammoths and Camilla Belle dazedly dragging her rear end through scenes, complete with extreme CGI dinosaurs and sabretooth tigers.

I feel a little sad and empty inside.

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