Saturday, 19 September 2020
District 9
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Thursday, 20 August 2009 00:00
district9posterLet me start by saying this movie is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect, but it sure is an interesting and original piece of thought provoking entertainment. District 9 is sci-fi the way it’s meant to be – ground breaking, eye-opening and pretty damned intelligent.

The story is told mostly in a documentary style, complete with faux interviews, news footage and hand-held camera segments. At first I wasn’t sure if it would keep my attention, but it has a way of making you suspend disbelief and reeling you in. The setting is Johannesburg, South Africa twenty years after an alien spaceship took refuge above the city. The life forms on board are sick and dying, so we humans decide to “help out” by housing them outside the city in an encampment called District 9. The refugees become known by the derogatory term “Prawns” because of their appearance and the human view of them as bottom feeders. Soon the area becomes a slum and crime between the Prawns and humans becomes rampant.

district9pic1Our main character is Wikus Van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a special agent in charge of relocating the Prawns to another camp. One can hardly call Wikus a hero. In fact he’s really unlikeable for most of the film, being the kind of slimy weasel who’ll kiss anyone’s bottom to get ahead. When he’s exposed to a mysterious chemical created by the aliens, things start to go very wrong for Wikus and he is forced to take refuge with the very creatures he has been working against.

I really don’t want to give away too much about the film except that it is a must see. It has a lot to say socially, which helps it stand out from so many of the mindless “shoot-em-up” action films out there. But it is also just visually incredible! In fact the special effects top every other blockbuster this summer, for a much smaller budget of only $30-million. The aliens look amazing and not once was I reminded these characters were CG. That is saying a lot since one of the main characters, Christopher, is a Prawn and he provides the real heart and soul of the film. This movie is a triumph of special effects wizardry.

district9pic2District 9 is bleak, violent and sometimes disturbing to watch. I found myself so tense throughout the film that I was actually sore afterward! This is a tribute to director Neil Blomkamp, who manages to take an unlikeable lead, and a bunch of buggy alien creatures and make us truly care about what happens. It’s an emotional and visual rollercoaster. Overall District 9 is one of the best and most original films so far this year.