Category Archives: district 9

Monsters

Monsters ~ When I saw this line of hype in the description of this flick OnDemand, I was intrigued. It read, “Best giant monster movie I’ve seen in years.” I was sold. It’s written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who has been chosen to helm the new American Godzilla movie – so I definitely had to see it.

The story – six years ago a space probe sent to search for alien life crash lands over Mexico. It brought ‘creatures’ and the area was walled off as the “Infected Zone.” Expecting District 9 meets Cloverfield meets Toho’s Monster Island, I happily order it, no matter how high the price.

A magazine photographer is sent to collect the boss’ daughter from Mexico in the Infected Zone. After losing their passports, they have to walk. Yeah, what’s that writing rule about what’s the worst that can happen? Yeah, that’s what happens. They walk home through the Infected Zone.

The two main characters are thankfully not typical horror movie stereotypes, but we get to know them as well as we would such characters – very peripherally. They are still placeholders in the storytelling process, but just different ones. The male lead reminds a lot of a young Adam Baldwin, but that’s neither here nor there. Some of the dialogue is painful, especially most of it falls into the “What are you doing?” and “Where are all the people?” territory.

The cardboardness and predictability of the two leads is what makes the ending so unfulfilling when it comes. I wanted a monster movie with a human story as a backdrop like most traditional kaiju eiga and got was a bad human story with monsters as the backdrop. At least the monsters got one pretty intense love scene. And no, I’m not kidding.

The monsters are rarely seen clearly early on, just in fuzzy pictures and staticky news footage, and later we hear them, but when they do finally show up… hello, pretty scary. They are sorta giant squid meets preying mantis meets Martian war machine with just a bit of Cthulhu thrown into the mix for good measure. The wreckage and destroyed buildings are stunning, as they are not CGI in the traditional sense, but greenscreened in – they are real destroyed buildings from earthquakes, fires, etc., so it looks, and is, very real.

There is not as much commentary on the current US/Mexico immigration problem as one might think from the summary of this flick, but it’s in there. There’s not much, but then again, no one ever says the word ‘apartheid’ in District 9 either and that’s like a brick to the head.

This was a fairly entertaining movie though, for what it is, a little long and I would have loved more monster stuff – but all in all, Monsters did not live up to the hype. Regarding Gareth Edwards’ future with the American Godzilla franchise, I really am at a loss as to what to think. It may well be visually stunning, but I worry about the story… and the love scenes…

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2010 Oscar Nominations

The Academy Award nominations for this year were announced this morning. You can view them here.

A couple weeks back, I posted some of my guesses about what would be nominated at my Twitter. I was right on with a few and dead wrong with a few – and of course there are some outright exclusions and some WTFs that made it.

I’ll post my thoughts later. For the moment, though, enjoy the nominations…

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Best of 2009

My top ten films that I’ve seen this year that came out this year would be, in no particular order – Timecrimes, District 9, (500) Days of Summer, The Princess and the Frog, Moon, Wonder Woman, Inglourious Basterds, and my top three – Ponyo, Watchmen and Star Trek.

On television, “Glee” tops my card, quickly followed by Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and a startling season of “Dexter.” Other highlights would include the “Seinfeld” reunion on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the spoiled children of “Big Brother 10” and of course the “Doctor Who” specials.

Musically there’s no question that 2009 was the year of Lady GaGa. And I think that’s only the beginning. Even if she’s a four-hit wonder, her performances and music, as well as her interviews are stunning. She is a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

On the interwebs, props must go to Marvel Comics for their amazing motion comics of Astonishing X-Men and especially Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.

Now bring on 2010!

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Surrogates

Surrogates ~ Imagine a world where you just sit plugged in at home and live vicariously through a robot that does everything for you, as well as everything you’ve ever wanted to do or even dared to think you could. That’s the premise of this comic-based film starring Bruce Willis. And all the robots are good looking and perfect. Insert your own World of Warcraft or internet chatroom joke here. Yep, you never know who you’re really interacting with.

As our story begins with a homicide in a homicide-less world, Surrogates seems an awful lot like I Robot in that it’s really just a police thriller with scifi trappings. Things change quickly however when Willis is forced to solve the crime in his real body as opposed to as his perfect robot surrogate.

There are some really nice and unexpected twists here, and I can see where the director Jonathan Mostow stole some cues from District 9 when it comes to chases scenes. This is a good actioner, and while the ending is telegraphed early on, it’s still done to good effect. Good for a rental, even though it failed quickly in theatres.

And does Bruce Willis have it in his contract that he gets beat up in e very movie he’s in?

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District 9

District 9 ~ Despite what one might think, there’s not a lot of shaky cam going on here, but it has all the intensity of those types of films. While this scifi flick from Neill Blomkamp starts off with documentary news footage style and seems to be an Apartheid analogy (even though the ‘A’ word is never mentioned) it fairly quickly and dramatically becomes something else entirely.

Decades ago a gigantic spaceship enters the atmosphere and hovers fixed over Johannesburg. The alien population on board is brought down and placed into a tent community until it’s decided what to do with them. The integration doesn’t go well until the present when the South African government basically determines to put the aliens into what are basically concentration camps. Documentary cameras accompany the ‘eviction’ of the aliens.

Non-actor Sharlto Copley plays the patsy in charge of the operation. At first an extremely unlikable character, when he discovers an alien device the movie charges into overdrive. Over the course of the film he becomes not only sympathetic, but also turns in an amazing acting tour-de-force, despite most of his performance being ad-libbed. And when we finally start to see the aliens’ story from their point of view, it becomes a whole new movie.

District 9 is equal parts Alien Nation, Enemy Mine and David Cronenberg’s The Fly. It’s a story of survival, triumph and trust with a very intense ending. There’s even better mecha action than either of the Transformers movies. This is must see.

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San Diego Comic-Con Wrap-Up

It’s Monday and Comic-Con is over. So what happened? To be perfectly honest, not much, at least not comic-related. When San Diego began, it was a comic book event, but now and in recent years it has become more of a Hollywood event – more about promoting upcoming movies and television series than about comics. Lucky thing that many comics are becoming films and TV shows.

There were screenings and sneak peeks at projects like District 9, Where the Wild Things Are, Legion, “Hero Up,” and amazing new video games from both Marvel and DC Comics. There were panels and buzz about “24,” the final season of “Lost,” “ Caprica” and “Smallville” the last of which promises Metallo, Zod and the Justice Society of America in its next season.

In comics news, Marvel made the intriguing announcement that they have secured the rights to Marvelman. On the other side, DC has similarly announced that they now have the rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. We truly live in interesting times.

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District 9 – Sneak Peek

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