Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alien movies

As someone who pretty much never watches any horror/slasher films, I want to discuss a science fiction film. Even then, I can’t say I’m an expert in that genre but I wanted to somehow discuss either District 9 or Battle Royale, so I’ll go with District 9 (produced by Peter Jackson) as a sci-fi film which begins as a mockumentary. Sorry that we kind of talked about it in class.

District 9 (2009) is about a “problem presented by intrusion,” when the aliens (derogatorily called “prawns”) stop their spacecraft in Johannesburg, South Africa, after a command module fell out (Wright 42). Though no one on Earth really knows what happened or how, they came off their spaceship malnourished and weak, so the humans sectioned them off in District 9 in their own refugee camps. Oh, and they like canned cat food.

Now, like other sci-fi movies, the aliens typically have stopped on our planet, but this time it’s not an attack, no “aims to take our bodies” or “to assume social and political control” or to “suck our blood” –and it’s not New York City (46). In fact, the government, Multi-National United (MNU), isn’t trying to kill the prawns but is just trying to move them. The aliens did not necessarily “invade in frightening machines” and they definitely don’t “lack emotions” as you see them protecting and loving like human families (46).

[Warning: spoiler alert] Okay fine, so maybe it’s not a typical science movie at all even if there are some elements, like aliens on our planet. It’s more about a prawn (Christopher) who has the solution to go back up in the space craft, but the man in charge of MNU (Wikus) isn’t letting it happen, and accidently mutates into an alien himself, splattered by the space module fuel he confiscated. But yes, there is the theme that the MNU wants a prawn because only their skin will activate their very powerful gun. Trying to run away from MNU because he is turning into an alien, Wikus actually teams up with Christopher. In the end, Christopher gets his stuff together and goes back to the hovering spacecraft, while Wikus fully transforms into a prawn and lives among them in District 9.

"Great ingenuity and immediate scientific advance are required to win the fight," but there was no win or loss.. prawns still stayed on Earth, even if Christopher escaped, and Wikus becomes a prawn (47). This doesn't quite fit in the typical sci-fi alien invasion movie (the aliens aren't defeated; there is no war), but that's what makes this an excellent movie. It fits in the genre and will attract the crowd who likes sci-fi (and even those who don't). Seriously, it's so good. It doesn't end when you think it should..


  1. Another thing that is contrary to Wright's definition of a Sci-Fi film genre is the fact (ok, maybe not a fact per say) that District 9 makes you identify with the Prawns, and not the humans. According to Wright, we are suppose to identify the aliens, who are the intruders, as the "other." However, while I was watching the film, I could not help but identify with the Prawns and what Wilkus was going through while in transformation into one. I guess, for me, I was conflicted by this movie because I went in assuming that this was a normal Sci-Fi film and therefore, must treat the aliens as "the other."

  2. Good point! I forgot to add that point because I felt the same way. (: