Welcome to the latest installment of Flickchart Road Trip, in which I’m starting in Los Angeles and “driving” across country, watching one movie from each state and posting about it once a week. The new movie I watch will go up against five movies from that state I’ve already seen, chosen from five distinct spots on my own Flickchart. Although I won’t tell you where the new movie actually lands in my chart (I don’t like to add new movies until I’ve had a month to think about them), I’ll let you know how it fared among the five I’ve chosen. Thanks for riding shotgun!
I’ve visited the state of Virginia as recently as 2011, though the trip was mostly for a wedding that occurred across the border in Maryland. My mother came down from Boston to babysit while my wife and I attended the wedding, and as a very small token of our gratitude, I drove her over to the town where she grew up: Alexandria, VA. (Did I say very small? I meant it. I was going to Alexandria anyway to visit an old friend and his family, who live there now.)
2009 was a banner year for science fiction, one of the best for the genre in recent memory. It brought us franchise resurrections (J.J. Abrams‘ Star Trek, McG‘s Terminator Salvation), critically-heralded indie gems (Duncan Jones‘ Moon), and, indeed, Oscar cred with, not one, but two Best Picture nominations. Which brings us to, arguably, two of the best sci-fi movies of the past decade, and this edition of Reel Rumbles: James Cameron‘s Avatar vs. Neill Blomkamp‘s District 9.
It’s a true David vs. Goliath story: Avatar is both the most expensive movie in film history, and the highest-grossing. District 9 is the little indie that could, proportionately achieving financial success somewhat comparable to Avatar‘s with a much more meager budget. One was directed by one of the most successful directors in cinematic history (who already had the previous highest-grossing film of all time, Titanic , under his belt), and one was helmed by a first-time feature film director whom producer Peter “The Lord of the Rings” Jackson had taken under his belt. And yet, for two films on such opposite ends of the financial and professional spectrum, they actually share a surprising number of similarities.
But which film is superior? Does box office domination translate to better filmmaking? Step into the ring and find out…