- Jodie Foster's weird accent. She speaks French occasionally in the movie, but when she speaks English, she affects a weird accent that is un-placeable, inconsistent, and off-putting. A good director needs to tell a star like Foster that it's just not working, go back to your real voice.
- Matt Damon's inexplicable bilingualism. His character "Max" is shown growing up speaking Spanish, surrounded by Spanish speakers. The boy inexplicably starts speaking English in one scene. When we meet the adult Max, his English is fluent. One could make the argument that he learned English somewhere in the missing years the movie doesn't show. Here's the thing, we get to hear all of his friends speaking English too, and they all speak with Spanish accents! Max is the only one who manages to grow up in that Spanish dominant culture and yet speak flawless English.
- Speech synthesis straight out of 1998. Damon has an early scene with a robo-parole officer which speaks with a stilted, halting robo-voice that reminded me of speech synthesis that's already ten years out-of-date. This is the same movie that depicts medical science as being so advanced, a machine can diagnose and cure any disease in seconds. Harumph...
- Horrible dialogue dubbing (non-linguistic, but worth pointing out.). Particularly for Jodie Foster, the sound dubbing was awful, destroying any suspension of disbelief I managed to retain in spite of the many ridiculous moments in the film. Not gonna win any sound editing awards anytime soon.
While Neill Blomkamp managed to create a visually beautiful world, the story is pure shit. It's the worst kind of liberal stereotype where every rich person is an evil sociopath and every poor person is a good hearted victim. It's too bad because there is a core of truth to the movie. There really is a tremendous wealth gap and there really are tragic inequalities, but this movie uses these facts as little more than a cheap backdrop to a thin beat 'em up thriller while pretending to be a socially conscious movie.
But here's the thing: There are no lessons in this movie. You won't gain a deeper understanding of anything. You won't have an "a hah" moment. It's Fox News for liberals, and it's equally as patronizing and empty. It's clear that Blomkamp put all his energy into the look of the film, and none into the story. There is tremendous nuance and detail in every item of clothing and every object, but the social structure is barely a cartoon and the plot is wafer thin (crucially depending on a series of coincidences like bad action films so often do). Ultimately, it was not really worth it. I'd like my $7 matinee ticket back, please.