Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alien Invasion!

At least someone is having a good time at Adventureland.

Three movies with nothing in common except I saw them. Three movies about outsiders that turn into insiders. Three movies to rule them all!

District 9 (2009) - Nifty sci fi about an alien ship that drops an new race of creatures into South Africa. Despite their advanced technology, the aliens themselves become lazy 3rd worlders and find themselves slummed into a shanty town. The metaphor for racial segregation is obvious but well played, with the local government dictating the terms of the alien's freedom and rights to their own advantage. The bureaucrat in charge of moving the aliens from one district to another becomes infected with a metamorphic substance that causes him to slowly transform to an alien. He then becomes both an outcast and sought after property as the transformation gives the guy the ability to use the alien's weapons (they only work for the aliens). You could write this off as The Fly meets Alien Nation but it's better than that, District 9 manages to make you feel sympathy for a digitally created race of enslaved beings. Oh wait, Avatar did that too but afterwards.

Adventureland (2009) - It's the late 80s and you're working in a theme park - I've so been there. A college kid's Dad has his career bottom out, forcing the kid to work in a theme park that summer to make some cash. The kid in question is a geeky poetry reading sensitive type who feels like an outsider in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He meets a girl who's a little more troubled and got those artsy sensibilities too (they both like Lou Reed). The kid finds that the theme park is like high school part 2 except he becomes the popular one, making time with both art school girlfriend and the local hottie. Adventureland has some nice qualities like a killer soundtrack (The Replacements! Husker Du!) and a semi realistic tone. Too bad lead actress Kristen or Kirsten or whatever her name is, you know that girl from Twilight, rings false in every scene she is. She seems to think acting is all in how you flip your hair around. And the story itself has been done so many times there's nothing really new here.

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage (2010) - is a new DVD docu...wait, rockumentary about the awesome Canadian power trio. This is like most rockumentaries in that if you like the artist in question, you'll like the movie. If you don't or are indifferent, you'll probably be bored to tears. Rush aka the biggest cult band in the world is a group that if you've heard them, you've made your mind up about them. Worshipped by many but considered uncool by the rock and roll elite for decades, Rush is a band that stands alone no matter how you catagorize them. For fans it will either go over stuff you already know or in my case shed some light on the group's early past (in high school I had all their tapes but really just played Hemispheres thru Grace Under Pressure). This is not Anvil, Rush is not a bunch of charismatic odd balls with a deep story to tell (though what drummer Neil Peart has been through could qualify for a dramatic movie within itself if given the space). I like Rush so I like this rockumentary, but not for the uninitiated.

Three movies to rule them all! Well, not really. Rush and District 9 are good, skip Adventureland.

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