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you won a million dollars!  just kidding, we're kicking you out of your house...

you won a million dollars! just kidding, we're kicking you out of your house...


Sharlto Copley, David James, Vanessa Haywood

Wikkus: Get your f****n’ tentacle out of my face!

In the not too distant future, a giant alien spacecraft has come to a standstill over the city of Johannesburg.  When humans cut their way into the ship, they discover a bunch of unhealthy, malnourished aliens in a ship that is out of fuel.  At first the aliens live amongst humans in the city, but due to increased violence, they are moved into a fenced off area just for aliens to reside.  Twenty years after the aliens arrived, Wikus Van De Merwe (Copley) has just been put in charge of a new project that will relocate the aliens to a new, better policed living area.  Unfortunately this attempt does not go so well, and soon Wikus has a whole new, unforeseen, problem of his own to deal with.

I was a little bit disappointed with this movie, mainly because it really is exactly what it seems to not want to be:  a mindless alien action movie.  There’s effects, explosions, and blood a-plenty, all done well, but I think another pass needed to be made over the script, because the character motivations and plot details aren’t always very easy to follow.  Maybe my intellectual biorhythm cycle was in a trough at the time, but I had a hard time reconciling some of the plot developments.  I won’t go into details, so as not to give anything away about the story, but I had several “but wait a second” moments while watching this one.

The movie starts as though you’re watching a documentary about all the events which took place, but gradually it leaves that format (without really telling us) for a more regular film watching experience, only returning to the documentary format when they need to throw in some facts to clarify what’s going on.  I wish they’d gone with one format or the other.  Splitting it up like that bothered me.

Most of the actors in this movie are either first time actors or are at most very inexperienced.  I thought that choice also hurt the movie a little.  I like having unfamiliar faces in something you want to make seem real, but in this case, leaving the documentary format behind made it obviously unreal, so why not hire some actors – especially in the lead – that can convey some more emotion.  Copley was okay at times, but overall I found him to be a little lackluster.  He doesn’t have the most expressive face, and he didn’t always succeed in getting the right emotions across.

Speaking of which, the design of the aliens was another problem for me.  We’re asked to care about two of the aliens in particular, but they are such a non-descript, derivative design that you can barely tell any of them apart.  Their faces are also very inexpressive, which again makes it hard to sympathize with any emotions they might be feeling.

These things all factored into me feeling an overall sense of detachment from the movie, and I was left just watching an exercise in special effects.  Effects that were quite good, by the way.

It’s still a watchable movie, with good individual scenes, but an uninvolved beginning, combined with the lack of a real heart, sunk the movie a bit for me.  Not all the way to the bottom, but still just below the surface.

Aliens love catfood.  Seriously.

10 – 1 for that split formatting – .9 for some seeming plot holes – .4 for poor alien design – .8 for some dull performances + .4 for great special effects – .8 for an overall lack of heart = 6.5