I’m just back from seeing the best sci-fi movie in years, “District 9,” and have to rave about it.
Not everyone in the theater loved it. In fact, a few people walked out, moaning that the movie wasn’t what they expected. Let’s see — an original story, cleverly told, in a place we’ve rarely seen on screen (Johannesburg, South Africa, giving it a nice apartheid allegory), with a hero you’re not sure you should root for, greedy political and paramilitary villains, and great special effects. If that’s not what you want from a sci-fi movie, you’ve gotten too used to the pablum that Hollywood usually spits out.
So, what should you expect from “District 9”?
If I told you it was about aliens who come to earth, hover their mothership over a major city, then get involved in a battle with the local forces before a final attempt to get home, you’d think it sounded like a dozen other humans-vs. aliens films. It’s more than that.
If I told you it was about a group that lives in shacks in a militarized slum zone where poverty and crime wreak havoc among the underclass, you’d think it sounded like a thriller tinged with political commentary. It’s more than that, too.
If I told you it was the documentary-like saga of an office bureaucrat promoted to unlikely leader who finds himself in a biological battle for power, weaponry, and — let me stop myself right there, because I don’t want to tell you too much instead of just urging you to experience “District 9” yourself.
True, the cast includes no one you’ve seen before, and there are a couple of scenes that are so gross I had to turn my head away for a few seconds and would certainly keep me from allowing my 15-year-old daughter to see the movie, but those small points are not enough to keep me from recommending it to you. In a world where originality is scarce, where every comic book character becomes a worn-out franchise, where every action movie is over-hyped into an event, “District 9” stands apart.
My only request for the creative team behind the movie is that they not let themselves be talked into making “District 10.”