District 9 (2009)

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Published on: 2009.09.21

The trailers didn’t do this movie justice.

Neill Blomkamp’s debut as a writer and his first major film as director should be a smash hit. If it doesn’t do well at the box office, it’s sure to be a favorite on DVD.

The basic back-story is this: an alien race (called “prawns” by humans) arrived on Earth 38 years ago, malnourished and sick, hovering their ship over Johannesburg, South Africa. In an attempt to take care of them, the human race housed them in a place called “District 9,” which fell under the jurisdiction of a company called MNU. The district turned into a slum.

The movie begins as MNU — under pressure from society and government — attempts to evict the aliens to “District 10,” which is farther from human populations and resembles a concentration camp. In the process, they find aliens hoarding weapons and working on secret projects. The director of the MNU project also begins to learn that MNU is hiding secrets as well.

Filmed mostly in documentary style, with interview clips spaced nicely throughout, District 9 is a well-made science-fiction movie with a hint of social commentary along the way.

The action scenes were directed and filmed as if Blomkamp had been doing this all his life, and the relatively unknown (in the U.S.) actors played their parts perfectly. Blomkamp, who’s done visual effects for a few big movies in the past, can also take some credit for effects in this movie.

The aliens look real — even in CGI — as does the giant spaceship that hovers overhead.

Story-wise, District 9 is intriguing. It drops quite a few hints early, but is careful to lead the viewer through the plot without giving too much away until the right time.

Historical References:

I didn’t realize until after viewing the film, but the name apparently references District Six, which played a large part in the history of apartheid.

One underlying theme of District 9 is the growing reliance of nations on multi-national corporations as a type of privatized government and military.

If blood and gore isn’t your thing, you might want to avoid this film. Otherwise, it’s a thrilling romp through a well-constructed real-world sci-fi theme, with nearly unstoppable action and a surprising amount of laughs.

IMDb: District 9
Wikipedia: District 9
Rating: R
(for bloody violence and pervasive language)
Length: 112 min. (1:52)
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Genre: Action / Drama / Sci-Fi / Thriller
My Rating: 9 of 10
Family Friendly: No
(quite a bit of alien gore and strong language)
Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, John Sumner, Vanessa Haywood, Kenneth Nkosi

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