Was I watching a different movie from everyone else?
I can't believe that not only did I allow you swindlers, you hucksters, you bamboozlers to seduce me into watching this travesty, but that I dragged my friends off this precipice with me. A MIDNIGHT SHOWING NO LESS! Double shame on the knob-polishing critics.
This movie crucifies itself on subtext. The "social commentary" this movie builds itself around is about as developed and nuanced as the Vampire/Homosexual parallel in True Blood. In other words, total crap. Never does it go beyond the Evil White Corporation motif because the villains are just so uniformly and predictably bad that exploring the dynamics of the bureaucratic power structure and how it leads to apartheid would have been an embellishment for the one-dimensional caricatures running MNU. It's also about half as subtle as True Blood. I'd have never guessed what the Prawn were a metaphor for if Neil wasn't so nice as to set the movie in South African shantytowns and spare my little brain the strain of making a connection. Godwin's Law applies: Neil even squeezes in Concentration Camps. Not at all hamfisted...
If you're not going to derive any insight or emotional catharsis from your allegory, why even bother with it? "Oh look! This vaguely resembles this! It must be profound and equivocal!" Likewise, why are peripheral plots and sociological issues (e.g. the forced abortion scenes, the interspecies prostitution, etc.) that get little-to-no screen time vastly more interesting than the main plot line we do get? Instead, Neil gets his hard-on for big guns and blows his load for the next hour.
And why the hell is the black 'fluid' a plot device tour de force? It's simultaneously a fuel (apparently getting 3 light years to the gallon being contained in a canister the size of a cigar), yet the Prawns apparently couldn't stock up on it before coming to Earth, and a gene-altering biochemical agent that metamorphoses humans into Prawns? Really, nao? I understand that Prawn technology is bioengineered, explaining away the seeming inconsistency somewhat, but from a thematic standpoint it's too silly and convenient to have this Mr. Hyde potion in the middle of a movie that tries to ground itself in realism.
This movie has no plot. Yes, things happen and they do so in sequence, but there's no cohesion or purpose that propels the movie forward.
At first, it's a mundane faux documentary that beats the prawn=refugee imagery to death. You watch people get evicted by the military (about as engaging as it sounds) and the only twist (i.e. remotely interesting thing) is that they're aliens instead of black people. Occasionally the Prawns wild out and kick a guy across the screen or get executed. That's the high point. Worse yet, it's juxtaposed with interviewees telling us crap that either A) hasn't happened yet (way to spoil your own movie) or B) Is in the process of happening thus doesn't need to be elaborated upon or C) describing how stupid/awesome Wickus is. Aren't you supposed to show this stuff rather than tell it? I mean Christ, in a movie that's already too long the last thing it needs to do is segue away from the action to explain to me what I'm seeing.
Next, after the lead character gets infected... No. I don't even need to go past this. Having the lead magically (yes, it's magic and Arthur C. Clarke can suck my cock) become one of the Prawns so we can get him from Point A: an annoying, xenophobic twit, to Point B: Jesus H. Christ, with no personal growth on his part or him even showcasing some redeemable personality trait is sloppy and lazy. As cheap a narrative device as it sounds and the absolute equivalent of putting a white guy in black-face and having him learn "a lesson" about how "the other half" lives. We're supposed to feel some sort of emotional impact when Jerk McAwfulperson makes "the hard choice" despite his being self-serving only until continuing to do so would actually be counterproductive and his being an obsequious, weasel-faced douche the most positive thing you could say about the chap. And the dick gets a denouement as if anyone actually liked him! Oooh, his making paper mache bowls and other lackluster arts and crafts had a purpose after all and comes full circle! Genius! *teardrop*
Bored? Don't worry. The makers foresaw this and they'll gladly bombard you with NOISE NOISE NOISE and the always-loved SHAKY camera action for the ENTIRETY of the third act. Screw all those "characters" and that "drama" they pretended to be building-up and never mind that it's all amorphous and devoid of aim: Bullets fly endlessly and heads asplode! They have the gall to play this somber music the entire time this "Go on without me!" cliché is taking place as if what's going on on screen has any more tension or gravitas than a Resident Evil 5 co-op mission gone wrong. While in a mech, the lead shoots a pig at a mook if you had any doubts to how high-minded and mature the filmmakers were.
Finally, aware the faceless evil military (and angry negroes) wasn't cutting it as an antagonist, they shoehorn some Stone Cold Steve Austin lookalike to the front-line to act as the De Facto Big Bad. No character development, no motivation, no personality: he just "likes watching Prawns dies" in his words and antagonizing the lead scathingly despite there being no personal history between them. What a villain!
This is a buddy cop movie in Hotel Rwanda's clothing. Two guys from two different "races" interact and learn to understand/appreciate the other while blowing up evil white people. It takes place in Africa, though, so it's poignant! Lethal Weapon posing as shrewd and earnest satire. I've seen it all!
Lest I forget, Witchcraft-driven African cannibalism!!! In a movie with bloody walking, talking cockroaches they still felt the need to go the "Scary Voodoo Negroes" route? Never mind making Mudflap and Skidz look like Nelson Mandela; this makes the zombies in RE5 look racially-sensitive. Yes, I'm aware of the Albino Cannibalism incident it draws its inspiration from, but isn't it shooting yourself in the foot to present the natives so negatively while simultaneously priding yourself on the "sympathetic" allegory?
It's unsurprising, though, considering how even the Prawns, the things we're supposed to sympathize with, are little more than savage brutes.The exception is Christopher, of course; He's not like those other stupid prawns! He's a daddy and the second protagonist!
Setting your plot against the backdrop of a serious issue is not the same as the plot exploring that issue.