Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Screen Wars

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  • giovanni tiso,

    Arg. Sorry. Mitigating circumstances: Wednesday morning, 14" screen about two feet away from me...

    Nice to see my plan of picking a gravatar that could be mistaken for Russell's from two feet away is paying off.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Then you have White's tendency to use whatever film is under discussion as the foundation for some socio-political rant that bears no relation to the text, or is (more often) pretentiously incoherent.

    Quite. Some reviewers seem to be unable to realize that just because there is a hint of allegory in a work, that it is to be judged entirely on its factual connection to whatever it is allegorizing. In case the dipshit didn't notice, it's a Sci Fi film about aliens , not a blaxploitation flick about Apartheid South Africa. Of course throughout the entire film, you're wondering exactly when the obvious technological advancement of the aliens is going to start showing up. Not something that ever really applied to oppressed Bantustans.

    It's more of a comment on the modern South Africa, than the 20th Century, the crazy clash between modern bureaucracy and OIA reality. I'm less reminded of Apartheid than I am of "The Gods Must be Crazy", particularly the courtroom scene where the little Bushman is being prosecuted for killing a goat, and the only guy who can actually speak Bushman is trying to explain the concept of "How do you plead?".

    I'm sure there are biblical imaginings going on in the actual SciFi side of things, some kind of Exodus references, but again, allegory falls down, because Exodus again dealt with the movement of oppressed peoples with no power, not incomprehensible aliens. How different these aliens are to human beings - when a boatload of technologically advanced human beings ever lands somewhere they tend to blast the locals to oblivion, not settle in some kind of shanty town. But the inscrutability of these aliens is one of the best parts of the film.

    The ending has some typical Rambo style silliness, with one man and one alien against the whole army really being used to showcase exactly what it is that is silly about treating these aliens like they are human, when all they have to do is take up their awesomely powerful arsenal, and they'd be pretty hard to stop. The real question isn't "how should humans treat the aliens?" but "Why haven't the aliens gone ape yet?". Perhaps they have fundamentally misconceived humans, and see us only as dangerous animals, rather like a pack of dogs. Individually not that fearsome, as a group something to be generally avoided, as a species not really a threat, useful at times. Then again, perhaps from their point of view this is not a misconception.

    As for the racism of the Nigerian depictions, I imagine it's not so much the idea that they're gangsters that's offensive, as the idea that they are such nasty vicious primitive gangsters, obsessed with witchcrafty ideas like eating the aliens to get their power, and stockpiling weapons that they can't use.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Living in a nation that won't get an official cinema release of many films due to them not being Disney enough, I strongly object to being labelled a pirate. I'm sure from a distance it seems just like I donned a parrot, lost an eye and jauntily jump aboard foreign vessels to rape and pillage, but I swear the fellow shared it with me m'lud.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Nigeria does have a deeply shitty human rights record.
    Remember Biafra in the seventies, and the controversy
    around writer Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution in the nineties
    as well as associated controversy around the abuse of
    the Ogoni people? And don't get me started on Anglican
    Archbishop Akinola and his jihad against same-sex marriage...

    Craig Y

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 567 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Leo informed me last week that Disney had acquired Marvel Comics, and we were discussing the implications. I put it to him that if Disney planned to make animated Marvel movies, it was a good thing, because Lasseter would be overseeing things. Live action? Who knows ...

    I certainly don't, because that deal is a big old ball of legal-industry political yarn my tiny brain can't untangle. Can't see why Disney would want to monkey with any of the deals currently in place though.

    District 9 has only just opened in the UK and. in most reviews I have read, they make the fairly obvious analogy with apartheid.

    One might think that in the UK, the equally obvious analogy with mistreatment of, and prejudice towards, immigrants legal and otherwise would strike critics. But perhaps that's a little close to a few raw nerves?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Saw D9 last night, and just posted a comment at Danyl's Dim Post:

    ... Enjoyed it hugely but couldn’t help but notice some of the major plot holes. And the way it suddenly showed its heritage with the shootout scenes – the better half (who was unfamiliar with Halo or the film’s roots) immediately picked these as the “video game” sections of the movie.

    (By the way, the battlesuit was a cool idea I could just about buy, but IMO the other guns were ridiculous – if your idea is alien handweapons with a serious punch, why not make them tiny and menacing, rather than colourful BFGs at every turn?)

    The energy and the newness of it really carried the film for me though – Sharlton Copley was very, very good – and I think it’s a much smarter political satire than it gets credit for, since most critics seem to have taken it as a simple spin on apartheid, rather than on the recurrent refugee crises in South Africa and apartheid’s lingering poisonous after-effects. Seen South African reviewers who’ve said as such (although to be fair, quite a few who haven’t too!).

    I too would have liked answers to some of those big questions hinted at at the start, but I suspect at this point it’s better fun to be left puzzling over them than having it all spelt out in some grandiose, disappointing sequel(s). Had the same bind with the Matrix – couldn’t wait to get the whole story, got it in spades, immediately wished the sequels had never happened…

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Had the same bind with the Matrix – couldn’t wait to get the whole story, got it in spades, immediately wished the sequels had never happened…

    I had the same thought - a friend told me a bunch of reviewers had said District 9 was the 'best thing since the Matrix', to which I instantly shot back 'which one?'.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    By the way, the battlesuit was a cool idea I could just about buy, but IMO the other guns were ridiculous – if your idea is alien handweapons with a serious punch, why not make them tiny and menacing, rather than colourful BFGs at every turn?

    Are you serious? I'd pick a BFG over some wimpy little Star Trek phazer any time. When you kill someone in an action flick, you don't want them to just lie down and die in their own time, you want them to splatter all over their buddies, and the gun to hum down like a gigantic dynamo coming to rest.

    My take was that alien guns weren't meant for day to day use, menacing muggers etc, but for 'when the shit hits the fan'. Which it didn't, ironically, until a human manages to work out how to use one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Unlike the Matrix, it wasn't a crock of shit, and whatever plot holes it might have had paled in comparison to the force of the allegory and what it was able to represent, especially in the first half.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Are you serious? I'd pick a BFG over some wimpy little Star Trek phazer any time. When you kill someone in an action flick, you don't want them to just lie down and die in their own time, you want them to splatter all over their buddies, and the gun to hum down like a gigantic dynamo coming to rest.

    I'm not denying the awesomeness of BFG splat-guns, just saying that they seemed to be overused in the film, and just a bit cartoonish. The prawn guns might have been emergencies-only, but I'd have expected to see at least a *few* among them that were somewhat visually understated and could be concealed under something smaller than a packing crate - but still packing the same punch.

    Phasers I can take or leave; I was thinking more along the lines of one memorable weapon from Iain Banks' Consider Phlebas , which converted from a pendant into a tiny, silent-firing lacework pistol - with the firepower of a grenade launcher. Probably wouldn't work right on film though.

    /raygun-nerdishness

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    My take was that alien guns weren't meant for day to day use, menacing muggers etc, but for 'when the shit hits the fan'. Which it didn't, ironically, until a human manages to work out how to use one.

    I took them to be designed for a different environment, and therefore their effects were a bit crazy on earth/in atmosphere etc.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • John Fouhy,

    Leo informed me last week that Disney had acquired Marvel Comics, and we were discussing the implications.

    Here's one implication.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Phasers I can take or leave; I was thinking more along the lines of one memorable weapon from Iain Banks' Consider Phlebas , which converted from a pendant into a tiny, silent-firing lacework pistol - with the firepower of a grenade launcher. Probably wouldn't work right on film though.

    Also, if I recall, they only had one shot.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Consider Phlebas , which converted from a pendant into a tiny, silent-firing lacework pistol

    Nitpick: I thought that the gun in question actually converted from an artificial tooth? Mind you, it's been a while since I've read Consider Phlebas.

    I must get around to sorting out babysitting so we can see District 9. An action flick that's up there with Waltz with Bashir: sounds compelling.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Nitpick: I thought that the gun in question actually converted from an artificial tooth?

    Touche. District 9 may be closer to Lazy Gun territory...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    one memorable weapon from Iain Banks' Consider Phlebas , which converted from a pendant into a tiny, silent-firing lacework pistol

    Who needs a gun when you can have a frikkin' knife missile?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    If we're going all Iain Banks, I doubt you'd ever need a weapon. The orbital computer would always perceive any threat before you'd even dreamed of it, and have worked out the best way to deal with it so that both sides got what they wanted. On the rare occasion when they had to actually attack, they'd do it remotely with a nanomachine swarm, which would individual visit each enemy's worst nightmare on them. But yes, in a dystopian society where hidden weapons were allowed, I'm sure they'd be like cellphones, all the better for being smaller and cuter. Some kind of mind control would seem the most elegant, then your enemy becomes your weapon.

    I'd still ask for a BFG, though, and play with it in virtual reality.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Sam F.:

    I'm surprised your missed the plot point that really broke my bullshit-o-meter, but its a tribute to the film that it hit me until the film was over.

    SPOILER AHEAD...

    So, Christopher Jr. not only knows how to activate the battlesuit and operate it remotely (thereby getting Wikkus and Dad out of a tightspot) but he also manages to POWER UP THE FRAKING MOTHERSHIP?

    Damn, kid, you were obviously paying attention when Comrade Obama was indoctrinating the younglings with outrageous Marxist-Lenninist ideology like "do your homework, stay in school, don't disrespect your teachers and put down the XBox controller and go outside for a bit".

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Who needs a gun when you can have a frikkin' knife missile?

    Who needs a weapon at all when yer standard culture warship can stand off several light years away and use it's effector to play the entire planet like a giant videogame?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Apologies for the thread jack, but can I get a What. The. Fuck. up in the room?

    Police and fire safety officers are investigating an arson attack on Prime Minister John Key's electorate office northwest of Auckland early today.

    Farrar's free-range troll farm is living all the way down to expectations, but I hope everyone else is suitably grossed out.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Why link a to a Kiwiblog thread. Seriously, can we call for a moratorium or something? There is enough sadness and misery in the world.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Why link a to a Kiwiblog thread. Seriously, can we call for a moratorium or something? There is enough sadness and misery in the world.

    Aw, come on... Master Baiter citing that evil Socialist radical Nelson Mandela in his defence is pure comic genius. Or it would be if I believed Baiter had any sense of self-aware irony whatsoever.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I would count "Farrar's free-range troll farm" as sufficient warning. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Cheers Craig, that actually is quite a humorous thread. Gotta love the demerits being liberally handed out as DPF struggles to control the wild lynch mob. It's almost on topic for this thread, Kiwiblog does often resemble District 9.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    "...especially in the first half."

    ...at which point District 9 turns into yet another fanboy flick made by fanboys for the fanboys who are going to review it and buy the merchandise and play the video game.
    Aliens as oppressed minorities is hardly novel, and plonking the space ship above Johannesburg is hardly subtle, but it was still a neat window on post-apartheid South Africa. Then it went all Peter Jackson-meets-Michael Bay.

    I had thought a sequel would be pointless - in 2012 the ship comes back and wipes out the humans. The End. But with Farrar running the Nigerian gang, there could be potential.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

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