Amongst other movies, I saw District 9 recently and really really enjoyed it. It was nice to see this sort of movie not be centered around America or Americans for a change and it added an air of legitimacy to the documentary style delivery at the start of the film. It’s an interesting film that, rather obviously, serves as an allegory for racism and apartheid. What I particularly liked about the film was the way it had you change your feelings about the characters in it. Wikus, the central character, is initially presented as a bit of a nerdy scapegoat, later on he’s an uncaring jobsworth. Fate intervenes and we see compassionate and courageous sides of his personality come to the fore. Similiarly, the audience’s feelings towards the alien race are also likely to change over the film’s running time.

And, for those of us not wanting to get too cerebral, District 9 most certainly delivers some thumping good action and spectacle with an identity all of its own.

So, there’s questions being fired across the internet regarding its portrayal of race and even if the film itself is racist. To the latter, I’d side with those saying that depictions of racism are not the same as acts of racism.

A blog post on movie-site Empire poses a rather different question:

With low budget, highly acclaimed sci-fi movies such as 2009’s Moon and District 9 ($8m and $30m respectively) making such a resounding impact are massive-budgets really necessary for a solid sci-fi flick?

It’s a good question – particularly if you’ve seen both those sci-fi movies and enjoyed them.

Do you have a receipt for all those mp3s on your iPod, sir?
Do you have a receipt for all those mp3s on your iPod, sir?

For me, 2009’s summer blockbusters were all quite unsatisfying. My most anticipated movie was Watchmen and that was released in March and I’d like to think I had realistic expectations of it. Since then, the big names haven’t really entertained as much as they promised. I came away from District 9 and Moon feeling great. By contrast, Terminator Salvation and Transformers 2 were very ho-hum affairs. I’m very wary of my own sense of expectation when seeing (or playing) something as this has such an important bearing on how satisfying I find the item in question to be. I kept expectation levels for Watchmen reigned in (not for lack of faith in the movie, but because I enjoy the original material so much and have heard how impossible it was meant to be to consider taking it to the big screen). With that said, I wasn’t particularly hyped about Terminator or Transformers so the feeling of being let down can’t be attribtuted to¬† my own expectations.

Moon isn’t presented as a sci-fi spectacle so a huge effects budget is understandably absent (though there’s some deft work in there and what’s on screen works as intended). District 9 on the other hand boldy has CG aliens throughout and a considerable amount of bombastic action to be witnessed and enjoyed.

Mega-budgets don’t necessarily equate to an entertaining film. Some huge budget movies are notorious flops whilst others are record-breaking successes. I’m thinking of Waterworld and Titanic here.

The latter is now Hollywood legend and has earned its maker, James Cameron, a licence to do his opus project. A dream, mega-budget, sci-fi, effects-laden spectacular. Whether it’s more Terminator (oh, the irony) or District 9 is something we’ll find out when it opens at the end of the year.

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