District 9

District 9

First off, the plot. In 1982 a spaceship arrives and stops overJohannesburg. There is some shaky footage of a command pod detatching and crashing to earth but it is never found. It turns out the ship is full of insect-like aliens who are refugees. They get transported to ‘District 9’ – an area that soon becomes a shithole of a slum like lots of the others that were in Jo’burg during Apartheid. They are nicknamed ‘prawns’ and treated like crap.

 

Wikus gives eviction notice to aliens

Wikus gives eviction notice to aliens

Cut to the present (well next year actually, but that’s immaterial,) and due to lots of local pressure the millions of aliens have to be moved to a new district outside town. The whole thing is controlled by a group called Multi-national United (MNU), and the fellow placed in charge of the move is a very likeable man called Wikus van der Merwe. While Wikus is giving the eviction notices and searching the slum, he gets some stuff sprayed on his face that makes him ill. Later, at hospital he finds out that he’s mutating into an alien. The plus side of this is that he is now the first human who can use alien weaponry. This doesn’t turn out to be a huge plus for him as the MNU now want to dissect him. He escapes and mayhem ensues with cool guns.

There is obviously a lot more going on but I will give away too much of the plot. What I have mentioned here can be pretty much gleaned from the trailer.

The movie is presented as a sort of documentary with news footage, CCTV footage, and hand-held camera stuff. This gives an air of reality to some pretty unreal goings on. It could so easily have gone wrong or been dull like the Blair Witch Project but it doesn’t. It works superbly.

Wikus with a big alien gun

Wikus with a big alien gun

The two principal reasons for this are the director Neill Blomkamp, and Sharlto Copley who plays Wikus. Both are brilliant. The direction never falters and keeps the action exciting and pace focused. Producer Peter Jackson has picked his protege well. Copley plays the role of Wikus – from likeable bureaucrat to panicked human to determined fighter – with skill. Occasionally events conspire in the film business and relative unknowns can create a unique, enthralling, and brilliantly watchable film. This has certainly been the case here.

district-9 spaceship

In case you can’t tell, I loved this movie. It was refreshing to see something new and exciting in the cinema. There have been some accusations of racism and a fair amount of controversy surrounding the movie but they are all by the usual touchy people saying the standard predictable things. If anything, the main bias is against humans as a whole. We suck.

If you like movies, action, direction, or anything to do with the cinema – go and see this. On top of all the above the alien weapons are really, really cool and brutal. Something for everyone.

3 thoughts on “District 9

  1. Autun Purser

    This film was up against Avatar for best special effects in the 2010 Oscars.

    The power armour in District 9 looks like real, functional equipment. The power armour in Avatar looks like the sort seen in many a computer game – quite good, but in no way looking real. The special effects in District 9 are so understated that for most of the movie you do not notice them… surely this should be the aim of the film maker?

    Reply
    1. Alina

      I unfortunately must diaegrse. I was really looking forward to it, and after seeing all the positive press the film has been getting thus far I was definitely looking forward to the movie. And I really was digging for the first twenty minutes or so. The problem with the movie is that it is much more compelling when it is played as a straight documentary. When the film switches to a regular narrative film, the emotional resonance, as well as almost everything that is actually compelling about the film is lost. The film then becomes just another sci-fi action film, and don’t get me wrong, the action is good, but none of it lives up to the first twenty minutes. The movie is also unfortunately hamstrung by the plot device of the black liquid, which is absolutely central to the plot, and is able to do two completely different things, with no explanation as to the mechanism that allows it to do both. District 9 is an entertaining, but unfortunately disposable film.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy

        I’ve been ripe to rip on films that devolve from hvaing a strong plot to ones that in with nonstop, brainless action, but I never once got that feeling with D9. Maybe it’s because I didn’t think that (most of) the action was brainless; the only thing that continued to bug me was that the lead baddie just. kept. surviving. Aside from that, it didn’t feel out of place but a natural conclusion to the events that preceded it (much like another film that must have inspired it: The Fugitive).

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