TL:DR – A+ for effort, creativity and originality. If you like sci-fi movies or films that stick in your head after you leave the theater, go see it.
(4 shells. Good, but not perfect.)
Spoiler Review – I loved how the movie started out with a “discovery channel” feel to it, allowing the storytellers to blatantly dump exposition on the audience in a method that is sublime in its audacity and how well it fits with everything. Although I’ve only seen it once, what I remembered fit really well together and this looks to be a movie that rewards people for watching it multiple times.
The biggest question from everyone is: “why are the aliens stuck? why are they putting up with this?” The explanation in the movie amounts to this: these are all the blue-collar aliens. Something has happened to the “tech support” prawns so the rest are stuck with a lot of tech they can’t use. And because of basic designs, humans can’t use it either. Some have objected to this explanation but in doing so have assumed that knowledge is universal to the prawn species and has ignored the reality of humanity itself. I probably found this explanation compelling because I work in tech support for a company. If our building was transported to some far away world and everyone in the department was killed off, a month until all computers etc break down would be optimistic. (some customers admit freely they are “computer illiterate”) The only real weakness I found with this explanation is that we are never given any hint of what it is that caused the loss of “tech support”. It makes more sense if you assume that the ship which appears in the air is actually a prison ship sent out from the prawns designed to dump the degenerates of their society elsewhere.
I do like that very little is explained about the prawns themselves, that they maintain a very “other” feel throughout the film. However, as the main character is altered and changed into one of them it would have been nicer if he had used the opportunity to learn more about them (and through him, we would too). Not everything had to be answered, but some hints could have been given.
Of particular interest to me is how exactly they breed. There is a brief mention of “inter-species prostitution” which bugged me as completely unnecessary. Ok, some sick humans might find them attractive (and I’m surprised we didn’t see some “prawn cultists” mutilating themselves to look more like the aliens) but why would they find humans attractive? There’s no obvious indication that some prawn are male or female but they do breed in the movie. Are they actually asexual? Omnisexual? The line about prostitution muddles the issue instead of clarifying anything.
Watching the bureaucrats “abort” a shack full of prawn eggs and talking about “permits for that child” were the most chilling moments for me. Slavery would almost seem preferable to that situation (because then, in theory, your masters would want and encourage breeding perhaps).
Although I have a very cynical view of people in general, my only complaint about the movie is that all the soldiers are little more than one dimensional props. Very few actual humans come off as sympathetic in this film. The only one beyond the protagonist is a bureaucrat friend/subordinate of his. Would it have been to much to have his friend be a soldier? One that helps Viktor fight at the end? It’s not that I have a problem with soldiers as villains, it’s that THAT is all we’ve had lately in culture. It would be nice to mix things up a little.
Other than the above, the movie does a pretty good job of giving the audience enough information or hints to reach satisfying answers to any questions they might have. This movie is ultimately a morality play, one that makes you think about mankind and how we treat each other (and the eternal conflict between the sanctity of the home and private property with the plight of the refugee). Although there is plenty of room for a sequel, this is why I’m ultimately hoping there is none. A sequel would either have to shed the parable or “crank it to 11” making the film overly preachy and annoying.
I hope many will come by and talk with me. This film is a worthy jump point for countless philosophical discussions. A sign of good art.