I meant to post this awhile back, forgot about it, and then read this wonderful analysis by Nnedi on her blog. In addition to the stuff about Nigerians, this really resonated in her complaints about the movie: “It bothers me that this film has gotten such stellar reviews. But I guess that just shows how low peopleâ€™s standards for Hollywood films are. The problem with setting your standards low so you can enjoy movies is that it allows them to get away with some serious irresponsible rubbish. And it makes directors, writers, and producers very very lazy. I want to see an SF film set in Africa as much as anyone but I donâ€™t like to see things done half-assed.”
A few legitimate questions that came to mind, considering the ultra-realistic/documentary style of the movie, at least at the beginning.
Warning: The questions suggest spoilers.
Why were there over a million aliens, serving no particular function, in the ship? And why only one or two “intelligent” ones?
Why was the command module on the outside of the spaceship, where it would be vulnerable to any attack at any point on its journey through space and then down to Earth?
If the aliens are portrayed as mindless drones except for a few “brainy” types, how can the movie be an allegory for the situation in South Africa during Apartheid? Or even about racism and how we perceive “the other” in general?
What is the reaction of the rest of the world to the aliens? Have any aliens ever been sent to other countries?
Why do the aliens never use their powerful weapons to defend themselves, even when severely provoked?
How did they manage, especially in their starved state, to bring all of those weapons down to Earth in the first place without the weapons being confiscated?
Why does the alien engineer’s son look a lot more like a soulful ET than the other alien juveniles?
How old is the alien engineer? And how old is his kid?
The black fluid the alien engineer needs to power the control module comes only from alien technology, none of which was, it appears, created after the aliens were taken off the ship. Why didn’t the alien engineer just collect it while still on the ship before they had to make their emergency “landing” on Earth? Or even thereafter. Why, instead, did he wait and have to spend decades collecting it from alien rubbish in District 9?
Is it really possible that most Nigerians ar so superstitious and naive as to think that eating an alien arm would not only give them the strength of the alien but also, very specifically, allow them to fire an alien weapon? And, assuming not, wouldn’t it have been more interesting and useful to the story to portray them as, erm, somewhat more savvy, at the very least? And why “the Nigerians.” Presumably they’re part of some gang. What’s the gang’s name?
How did the protagonist get back into the military research labs with his alien friend? Was security so stupid they didn’t change the codes? And why would he know the codes to the secret labs he was tortured in, anyway?
Would the evil researchers really have left the tube of black fluid in the same area as where they keep the tortured corpses? (And, erm, why do they keep the tortured corpses around and seem to be so bad at cleaning stuff up?)
Why wouldn’t the evil researchers have sedated the protagonist long before the moment when they were going to cut out his heart? This seems sensible since it would then preempt any Hollywood-ish last bid for freedom.
How do the protagonist and the alien engineer manage to not only escape through the city streets but also get back into District 9, given that it’s surrounded by military personnel and, erm, presumably all of the entrances and exits are guarded?
Why did the protagonist think it was a good idea to knock the alien engineer down and take off in the command module himself, given that there’s no way he would be able to fix himself on the alien ship, or anywhere else?
Why does the protagonist have a change of heart only when he puts on the transformers power suit? Why doesn’t he have the change of heart after he is tortured, forced to kill an alien, almost has his organs cut out, and then is hunted down like an animal?
Come to think of it, why would the authorities allow a huge alien powersuit to exist in District 9, given that it seems like it would be a difficult thing to hide?