Tuesday, March 29, 2011

They're [already] here!!!

Over the last two nights I watched two similar movies about alien invasions: District 9 and Monsters.

Each had their own spin to the invasion, and handled it differently, but at their core, they were movies that used the alien invasions to take a hard look at today's social issues.

District 9, which is set in South Africa, immediately draws comparisons to apartheid. A ship full of aliens docks itself over Johannesburg, and humans being curious, explore the ship and find a million malnourished aliens. But the good gesture of helping these creatures soon turns, and the humans clash with the creatures, they dub "prawns". They are then locked away in a segregated area, called District 9, which resembles the slums of any overpopulated city across the world.

In Monsters, the premise involves a space probe sent to explore life in our solar system which then crashes back onto earth, "infecting" most of Mexico with the life form it brought back with it. The creatures are dangerous, and the US military seeks to wipe them out. But by the end of the movie, we come to see that the creatures are less the "monsters" of the title, and just lifeforms, like any other species among us on earth. They can be dangerous, yes, but beautiful, if viewed from a safe distance as the characters in Monsters do at the end of the film.

And in their endings, Monsters and District 9 takes a similar approach. The aliens aren't all bad, just misunderstood, and our ignorance of them makes us fear them. Hey, isn't that what's going on between Christians, Jews and Muslims right now in the middle east? And right here in American between liberals and conservatives?

District 9 and Monsters are two of the best sci-fi movies to come out in years. They don't sensationalize the invasion, like Independence Day, War of the Worlds and Battle: Los Angeles. And these are not movies where the alien beings need to be wiped out to insure our survival. They are more about life returning to normal after earth shattering events (9/11, anyone?) and how those events shape the people who lived through them.

But perhaps the biggest similarity between the two movies is this: our reactions to creatures from outer space aren't that much different than the reactions we have to other humans.

And that is a scary thought.

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