Why You Should See District 9
Thursday, August 13, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Since my last attempt to thwart the trend of mediocre movies earning box office receipts out of proportion to their actual level of quality fell short, I'm going to try a different tactic this week. This week I'm not asking you to avoid a movie that I suspect will be bad. Instead, I'm asking you to take a chance on a movie I strongly suspect will be one of the best films of the summer.

Before I launch into my tirade, let me get this out up front:
I have not seen District 9, and therefore it's possible I'll be wrong and the movie will be awful.

Let me tell you why that doesn't matter:
You bitches owe me for G.I. Joe.

Anyway, this movie's been on my radar for some time now. It'd had been getting great buzz among the geek and nerd community for awhile. While there are a few red flags with this film (no-name cast, a director with almost no resume to speak of), overall, all signs point to a good experience.

Reasons why you should see this movie:

1. The critics are going crazy over this. Right now, it's at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes (though that number will fluctuate as more reviews pour in). Now, let me put this in perspective. I had a commenter in my G.I. Joe post accuse me of "needing critics to tell me what to think about a movie." Well, no. I'm capable of making up my own mind. However, critics serve as an important litmus test, especially when looking at their scores in a batch, like Rotten Tomatoes does. If everyone universally loves a movie (or hates it) - that's a pretty strong indicator of what to expect. When a movie in a genre that traditionally doesn't appeal to the high brow set of critics (Ebert, the Village Voice) garners praise, you really need to look at that and say, "Wow, if [critic X] can be persuaded to love a sci-fi film, it may just be as good as he says." I don't take much notice of Roger Ebert when he bitches about a film having giant robots fighting, because frankly, that kind of movie isn't for him. But when I see an Ebert type raving about a film in a genre he normally isn't into, that makes me take notice.

2. It's a movie you probably know almost nothing about. And that's a good thing. Before you run out and read all the glowing reviews mentioned in #1, consider this: when was the last time you really got to see a movie without knowing all the details in advance? I went and saw The Hangover, and it was pretty good - but I didn't love it as much as my friends, and part of me thinks it's because the damn trailers gave all the jokes away. When you know too much about a film in advance, it colors the way you follow the action, because there's always this part of you going, "Well, I know so-and-so doesn't die, because he was in a scene in the trailer that didn't happen yet. I'm also pretty sure that the big twist will turn out to be [whatever]." What I'm chasing as a movie goer is that amazing feeling I had seeing The Matrix for the first time - the "holy shit, that blew my mind, I never saw that twist coming!" sensation that to this day makes me happy to even think about.

3. Peter Jackson is involved. Now, he's not the director, but he's been a big part of producing and promoting this film. And when you see Peter Jackson, you know that his WETA special effects shop is probably involved as well. That's a Very Good Thing. WETA's work in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was the first time I really felt like a CGI effect really looked real - you don't detect any hint of a green screen, and the actual physical work the shop does in terms of costumes and makeup is simple top-notch.

4. There are aliens (and what appears to be a giant robot).

5. It's set in South Africa. Face it - aren't you kind of sick of seeing the same locations (Paris, Washington DC , New York City, L.A.) blown up in movie after movie? Well, here's a change of scenery for you to enjoy. Also, aren't South African accents awesome?

6. I know almost nothing about the plot, but the tiny hint that I have picked up hints that story will be just as important as special effects in this one. Here's all you need to know on that front: aliens have landed in South Africa, they're shoved into a special ghetto (the "District 9" of the title), and they may be oppressed in some fashion. Hmmm... sound familiar to a social problem from that country about 2 decades ago? This is a movie that will hopefully provide more than "shit blows up, heroes posture, bad guys lose, the end" plot for once.

7. Despite the promise of plenty of plot and character moments, don't despair action fans. I'm pretty sure lots of things are still going to blow up. And again... with WETA involved, those things that blow up are probably going to be freaking awesome.

8. Show Hollywood that a movie can be a success even without an obnoxious marketing campaign and a trailer awash in douchey rock music. Check out the excellent viral site for the movie.

9. You already saw G.I. Joe and Inglourious Basterds doesn't come out till next week, so nothing else is out.

10. Maybe they'll show an Avatar teaser before this one. Who knows?

I'm not saying you need to buy into the hype, and I'm not 100% sure this will be the greatest action movie ever made or anything. But when I see a small budget film like this come along that I fear will slip under a lot of people's radar, I like to promote it and give it a chance.

If you really need to be persuaded by a trailer, watch it here in HD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6PDlMggROA

If you do see the movie, please post your spoiler-free thoughts here (or wait till I review it early next week, where you can spoil all you want).
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