A Two Movie Weekend? Anticipating “District 9” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife”

This weekend is unique, at least as far as 2009 weekends go. For the first time this year, there are two movies being released, each being equal on my “want to see” scale. This year has been kind of dead for movies I really care about seeing in the theater–Star Trek and Harry Potter notwithstanding–so both District 9 and The Time Traveler’s Wife being released the same weekend has kind of taken me by surprise.

Enough of a surprise, actually, to make me consider splurging and spending an inordinate amount of time in a theater by actually catching both films, maybe even in a double-feature! My fiancee thinks this is a ridiculous waste of money given that we’re saving for a wedding and honeymoon in two and a half months, but hey, that’s what matinees are for, right?
As for District 9, I am looking forward to it because I know very little about it. It’s a sci-fi movie which automatically gets my attention, and the trailers are incredibly vague as to exactly what the movie is about, which also makes me pay closer attention to it. I have a weird thing where I don’t like trailers to let me know everything that happens in a film, so the more opaque that a trailer seems, the more intrigued I am. District 9 has that opacity in droves.
I read in various places that the SDCC screening was a huge success. I very rarely take what anyone else has to say about a film seriously–especially fanboys–but it’s good to hear that the film is starting off with positive momentum. I don’t generally trust either positive or negative reviews, but I can’t help but like the fact that it’s already getting good press. And to not know what it’s really about, that’s saying a bit for it.
One of the other things that I look forward to about District 9 is that I don’t know about anyone involved with its production except for Peter Jackson, and he’s just the producer. And even though I’m a fan of Jackson’s previous work, his name alone is not really enough to sell a movie to me. I won’t be biased for or against the film going in, which is a good thing since it seems like District 9 deals with a few issues regarding inalienable rights (get it? tee hee!), which is something else I love my SF to do–take a stand and say something.
And then there’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a long, long time because it’s based on what might be my favorite book of all time. Really. If it’s not my favorite, it’s definitely in my top 5. Audrey Niffenegger’s novel is one of the best things I’ve ever read for many reasons. It’s real, it’s poignant, it’s funny, the characters actually evolve, and it deals with science-fictiony themes and conventions without ever actually falling into the science-fiction genre. I cannot help but love any genre work that only relies on genre convention to tell a good story, hence my love of Battlestar Galactica and True Blood as well as this.
I worry about this one a bit, though, because the novel was so detailed and complex; the reason the reader loved the characters was because of how perfectly the author was able to get inside their heads. In a film, it’s much harder to do that, though I don’t think it’s anywhere near impossible. I’m the first person in the world to stand up for an adaptation’s right to be considered a separate work; I just worry this one is almost too complex to adequately adapt.
The novel is also written entirely out of chronological order and in separate first person narratives, so I wonder how that aspect of storytelling (that worked so well in print) will work on screen. Like I said, I love liberal, essential adaptations, so I look forward to seeing how it plays out. I’m not set on it being just like the novel; I hope the film has a soul all its own, but the book had such a presence and specific feel to it, I fear the film will be unable to capture the humanity Niffenegger imparts. If it does, then I’ll be happy. If it doesn’t, then no skin off my back. At least they tried. Good adaptation, bad, or even mediocre, nothing can take away how dearly I hold the novel.
So come next week, I hope to have seen both of these. I haven’t been this excited about films in a long time, so I hope I’m not disappointed. I don’t really want to see one more than the other, so if I don’t get to see both, it’s really going to be luck of the draw (or my fiancee’s choice, and she already said District 9 gets her vote).

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. Yeah… District 9 has me very intrigued as well. A co-worker and I were musing about it over lunch today. The local paper gave it 9.5/10 today – which doesn't help my anticipation (despite my innate distrust of big media reviews).

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