District 9 (2009)

In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population, nicknamed The Prawns, appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The refugee camp where the aliens were located has deteriorated into a militarized ghetto called District 9, where they are confined and exploited in squalor. In 2010, the munitions corporation, Multi-National United, is contracted to forcibly evict the population with operative Wikus van der Merwe in charge. In this operation, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and must rely on the help of his only two new 'Prawn' friends. - synopsis from IMDB

 Cast  - full listing

 Genres

science-fiction, action, drama

 Facts & Figures

Directed by Neill Blomkamp.

Rated 8.0 on IMDB from 554928 votes.

Runtime: 112 min.

 Review

I imagine it must have gone something like this: “Hi, Neill, it’s Peter Jackson. I have a good script for you as a young and upcoming director. So, here’s a laughable budget and if it looks OK, I’ll stamp my name on it and make some bucks from it. Sound good?”

And boy does it look OK! District 9 is one of those worth seeing. I’ve heard and read the criticisms that you get to see pretty little in the end and nothing really happens and I’ll acknowledge that the ending reeks of a sequel so bad it will hurt your nose. But imagine the stench of that ghetto instead. Or rather, the District where “we” have stashed the aliens after they arrived above Johannesburg 2 decades ago.

This touches on the subtle self-reflection offered by those willing to see it in this movie. As a sideline to the story, Blomkamp also shows some of the more crude aspects of the ways we treat each other. Fortunately, it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the movie.

It’s become obvious that directors are reverting to a less clean and sharp way of filming as an asset for movies like this. Set in a more documentary style, the images are restless and jolting from time to time (without making you dizzy). This adds to the realism very well. You feel as if you’re in the mess and chaos and are tailing the cameraman all the way.

Performances are on par in District 9, most notably where Sharlto Copley is concerned, acting the lead role as Wikus van de Merwe, a slightly nutty government agency officer pushed forward for a major operation and throwing an enthousiasm into his new job that’s just off.

Location certainly also adds to this feature as the South African accents bring a fresh take to the movie and pull you into the story far much more than had this been another Hollywood production. Now it gets interesting: who are these people, what’s going on and who are these ET guys? A good setting is a tremendous start to make a story interesting. If you’re not a prawnofobiac and able to engage into Sci-Fi, it’s time to stop watching Bladerunner re-runs and trot down to the cinema. You won’t be disappointed.

Seen: 17 Oct 2009

District 9

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