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Battle of the giant, hovering, spaceship movies
Independence Day is more of a fun movie, while District 9 is more along the path of an actual good film. While you can't go wrong with Will Smith, I have to give it to the spellbinding original cinematic debut of Neill Blomkamp and District 9.
Independence Day is one of my favorite memories of seeing a movie in a theater. I was the perfect age, and I loved it. I still love the movie, but after seeing (and loving) District 9 for a second time, I have to go with the latter here.
District 9 is far better.
District 9 is more serious, original, well-written, well-acted, and all around good.
I'll take Independence Day over District 9 any day of the week. And I know I’m in the minority, but I find District 9 to be massively overrated. First of all: it's not original. It uses styles, ideas and scenes from other movies. For example: when Wikus slowly turns into an alien, it's almost a direct copy of The Fly (remake). When you see Wikus inside the mechsuit, it's shot exactly as in Iron Man. When you see the mechsuit from the outside fighting, you can't help but think about Transformers. And helicopters approaching the gigantic spaceship? Yep, that's in Independence Day. Second: the characters are annoying. Wikus is unlikable from the start, so we need to feel sorry for him? His wife is not much better. Third: The ending doesn't make sense either. The alien dad finds the 'car key' and leaves? Was it that easy to get away from earth? He says he will come back in three years. Why doesn't he take the other aliens with him? And why will he return to earth if the humans treated him and his species so badly? I could go on and on ranting about this movie. Now I’m not saying Independence Day is a masterpiece, because it’s not; but I do think it’s a lot better. It’s fine popcorn entertainment and not much more than that. But at least it didn’t have as much problems as District 9.
District 9. Independence Day is a fantastically fun guilty pleasure, but District 9 is a modern Sci-Fi/Action masterpiece. Not "original", but it takes the best ideas from some classic (or simply popular) Sci-Fi/Action/Horror films (as mentioned above in MysticSpoon's comment, and more) and breathes new life into them with a different setting, different tone, different messages, a nice touch of black comedy and satire and with next to no money compared to some of the current Hollywood productions. Also the plot points which MysticSpoon mentioned either have the answers explained in the film or are left open to debate (I can think of much bigger issues, such as how the aliens and humans were able to communicate so easily, but they don't bother me so much because there are plenty of compensations). So yeah, District 9 in a landslide, but Independence Day is still a lot of fun.
Ok, I just rewatched District 9 on blu-ray and the picture quality is fantastic! I love this movie because it's original IMO because the concept is original (I think), and it has great action. Independence Day didn't impress me at all. Just another hollywood blockbuster alien invasion flick, but District 9 is completely unique in its own way. And yes, MysticSpoon, it may have some ideas from other movies, but you completely throw those away when you watch it. ANYBODY that has seen this movie, please tell me if you thought of other movie scenes that District 9 copied when you watched District 9. Overall, District 9 tops Independence Day by a longshot for me. Independence Day had some scenes that were cool, but the movie didn't blow my mind. I actually think the aliens in Independence Day look similar to the aliens in Alien and Aliens, and the alien cruisers look alike to the small ships in the old War of the Worlds.
Not to be offensive, but was it ever explained why the alien dad didn't leave Earth earlier, if the humans treated his species as shit? Was it ever explained why they didn't take the other aliens with them, and why the alien dad basically said 'screw you guys, I'm going home', like Cartman? I don't know...something inside me wants to see the movie again, to refresh my mind and to see if I'll hate itmore or possibly less. I find it kind of strange though that a movie like Equilibrium (of which I have seen about a third) is called a Matrix rip-off by many people, while almost nobody seems to criticise District 9 for ripping off multiple movies. So Equilibrium gets shit for apparently ripping off 1 movie, but District 9 gets a pass, despite ripping off more than 1 movie? I don't get that. Now I understand that people will say 'District 9 doesn't rip off other movies, it pays homage to other movies'. I can't really argue with that if you think that. But I personally think the similarities with other movies, especially with Alien Nation, get out of hand. There are too many similarities, and they aren’t subtle either. With something like Star Wars, the similarities ARE subtle. That’s a perfect example of a movie partially consisting of elements from other media. It’s Flash Gordon, Samurai movies, Frankenstein, War movies and even a tiny bit of Star Trek all rolled into one, while containing original elements as well. Now THAT is in my opinion taking something existing and breath new life into it.
^(Originally directed at smatticus, but I guess it works for Connerwoods comment as well)
MysticSpoon makes a lot a good points about the flaws in District 9, and I agree with most of them. That said, I still really like the movie. Like a lot of others, I'm just an "easy lay" when it comes to sci-fi films. You make a movie that features futuristic weapons and aliens and s**t blowin' up, I'm usually a happy boy. That's why I also like Independence Day and had to contemplate awhile which film I preferred. I have to go with District 9 in this matchup. Sure, both of these movies may not hold up well under close scrutiny...but I forgive them.
MysticSpoon: 1. I gathered that it took a long time for Christopher Johnson (Alien Dad) to collect enough "fuel" or whatever it was in that container. He'd been working on putting it all together for years. 2. Do you think he really had time to take THOUSANDS of aliens with him into the little pod and up into the ship- all while he was being bombarded with gunfire? He had to get out of there. 3. The shot you speak of with the helicopters...that was about 5 seconds of screentime and I don't know how one can think of that as a strike against the film or an instance of "stealing" from another film. That's ridiculous. 4. On the Iron Man comparison: You do know that Iron Man released only a year before this, right? The script was probably completed long before Iron Man came out and it's based on the short "Alive in Joburg" which featured a similar mech with the same characteristics...I see your comparison with The Fly, but this isn't the first time that kind of transformation has been done in film. As long as it works in the context of the story, I think it's okay- and that element fits in perfectly with the rest of District 9. I don't take it as a kind of blatant "rip-off"...District 9 is creative in the way it's story is told (It takes the docu-drama approach and uses it to its benefit), it's creature design, its flipping of alien-movie norms (Aliens as oppressed rather than oppressors/ Sci-fi as metaphor for real human drama: Ever heard of District 6 in South Africa?) and in the way it uses its relatively small budget (It was made on one fifth of Transformers' budget).
@Caesar: I can't really argue with that. I like Independence Day too because of its entertainment value, not because it's a great movie, because it's not. The movie has nice effects, good action and a fantastic build-up, but the characters are stereotypes and the dialogue is bad. It’s a dumb action movie, but it isn’t awful. District 9 is in my opinion a dumb action movie pretending to be more clever than it actually is, therefore looking even dumber…but that’s just my opinion. I wonder though, do you like the Transformers movies for the same reason?
@Boonmee: 1. I probably forgot about that, or I missed it. 2. I watched the ending again on YouTube, and there is not one sign of gunfire or weapons. No guns, no rockets, no tanks, no aircraft. No soldiers in general. Maybe they were under attack before they entered the spaceship, but I don’t recall seeing that. I do remember them fleeing, though. Why didn’t they warn the other aliens to go with them? They could’ve done that, right? 3. …Admittedly, this was kind of a stretch. 4. Yes, I know Iron Man was released a year earlier, and yes, I know District 9 was based on Alive in Joburg. But I wasn’t talking about the mech itself; I was talking about the scenes INSIDE the mech. Because in Alive in Joburg, you only see the mech from the outside, not from the inside like in District 9. When you see Wikus INSIDE the mech, it’s almost exactly like when you see Tony Stark in the Iron Man suit. In both movies, you only see their heads with holographic screens floating around them. Coincidence? Maybe. It’s not impossible that Blomkamp added those scenes in late production. Those scenes in District 9 aren’t necessarily there because it’s in the script; they could also be there because of the style. If you leave those scenes inside the mech out and you just hear Wikus, the MEANING of the scene doesn’t change whatsoever. The style however, does. About the Fly comparison: it’s true that the transformation scene has been used in other movies (best example is Aranofsky’s Black Swan, where I actually didn’t mind it because we don’t know if the transformation is real or not, and it works great with the story), so I guess that weakens my comparison. But you must admit that the link with The Fly is definitely there.
The Aliens as the oppressed instead of the oppressors is pretty clever...were it not for the fact that this idea has already been used in Alien Nation. I suggest you google the similarities between District 9 and Alien Nation, because they are actually interesting. Another one for example is that in both movies the aliens love disgusting food and will do anything to get it. In District 9 it’s catfood, in Alien Nation it’s sour milk.
What the metaphore stands for is very, very obvious. But why didn’t Blomkamp make a documentary instead? ABOUT District 6, for example? That way it’s much better to address this issue, without having to use obvious metaphores. Because here we have a movie about oppression and discrimination in South Africa…with aliens, mechs, laser guns, people exploding, awkward humor and humans eating aliens. That doesn’t sound right; don’t make an action movie with elements of dark comedy, make a drama or a documentary!
And the fact that this is made with a fifth of Transformers doesn’t mean much. Good effort, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. That’s like saying Lost in Space used half of the budget of The Phantom Menace. But that doesn’t make Lost in Space a good movie.
Longest comment ever. Ah well.
I'll go with ID4. It still has perhaps a top 5 trailer of all time...people were going nuts for it. D9 was very good...but sometimes nostalgia wins out...
@Mystic Spoon: First: you don't remember at the end with the militray guys (I don't know what you call them) chasing them down and trying to stop them? The main bad guy who was bald? Anyway, I thought it would be too much trouble and too difficult to take all of the aliens back with him. I mean, what? Was he going to make 50 trips up and back from the spaceship getting everyone onboard? Also, I think he was smart to have kept it to himself. Not all of the aliens were good and to have announced to everyone that he had the ability to take them all back would have been setting him up for trouble (One of the aliens could have told the- what do you call him?- the black magic/crime guy in the wheelchair and him and his men could have tried to take advantage of the situation or the word could have gotten out to the public, as we know the aliens had gotten out into the city before). As for Alien Nation, I personally have never heard of it, so I'll have to look into that, but really, I think this boils down to you being more bothered by similarities between films then me. And that's fine. For instance, I like Avatar, but I think it has some flaws. But, I don't take points away from it because it's like Dances with Wolves or Ferngully or any of those films. I take points away from it because I think much of its dialogue is poor and most of its acting is bad. The story of a man living one kind of life and then being introduced to another way of living and having his values changed and having him turn toward what's natural and free rather than what's cold and harsh is an old, old story that has been told several times, and I don't really have much of a problem with another film telling that story as long as it tells it well and compellingly. That's just me, though.
I totally agree with Boonmee
ill go independence day its just pure cheesy fun even if they hacked the alien computer lol.
Independence Day. District 9 was pretty bad.
@MysticSpoon I have heard a lot of what you've said before and I respectfully disagree with you (no offence taken btw). I would answer your questions but Boonmee pretty much did that for me. I understand what you mean with the Star Wars comparison, but I still think that District 9 works as a film which references many others with its own narrative and stylistic spin on them e.g. the hovering spaceship from Independence Day, the transformation from The Fly, the mech fight from a host of films (though it would definitely be kinder to say Iron Man than Transformers :P). I haven't seen Alien Nation, and although I have heard plenty of comparisons I have not heard any particularly high praise. District 9 isn't perfect, but it was sufficiently entertaining and engrossing that it not only kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, but it also got me thinking more about the parallels to apartheid and the social history of South Africa than the plotholes in the film (the majority of which I have my own answers for).
Neither are good, but at least Independence Day seems to have a clear idea of what it wants to be. District 9--what are you? A mockumentary? Satire? Splatter film/body horror? I'd love it if a film could really make all those elements jive, but this one doesn't.
@ Smatticus (and Boonmee too, I guess) Alright, also no offense taken. I rewatched some of it rather recently, and it's not as bad as I remembered. Believe me, it's still pretty low on my list, but I don't think it's "Top 10 Worst movies ever seen"-bad, like I used to think. The similarities with other movies isn't necessarily my biggest problem; like UncleFok, I have a problem with the tone. It's all over the place. Is it supposed to be a mockumentary, a drama, an action movie or a dark comedy? In one scene, there's a lot of focus on the apartheid / racism / discrimination symbolism (which is really obvious and kind of paper thin), but in the next, it's a giant mech shooting people, and they pop like balloons. And I have problems with the plotholes ("the car key" being the best example) and the characters. I know I'm more or less repeating Doug Walker aka The Nostalgia Critic here, but I agree with the points he made. If you love it, great, but I see it as a movie with many problems.
District 9 Hands down