District 9

Saturday, August 15, 2009
The Admiral and I treated ourselves to a movie this afternoon, District 9. I so want to write a great review but I don't know if I have the mental energy so you'll have to bear with me.

28 years ago, an alien space craft arrived on earth. It didn't settle over London, Washington, Moscow or Tokyo. It settled over Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the past few decades, humans have rounded up all the aliens and forced them into filthy, impoverished detention camps. As crime increases (as does the alien population), Multi-National United, MNU, the private contracter hired by the government to police the aliens, decides to evict the residents of District 9 and relocate them to a new camp away from the city, promising them better conditions and more freedom. Things begin to go wrong however when Wikus van de Merwe, the MNU employee in charge of the mass-eviction, finds a small black cylinder filled with an unknown black liquid which he accidently sprays in his face, starting a process which begins altering his DNA, turning him into one of the aliens he's trying to control. Wikus finds himself hunted from all sides: MNU scientists need him to unlock the secrets of the alien weapons, the aliens want him because the liquid was their last chance of returning home, and if that wasn't bad enough, he's pissed off a group of Nigerian terrorists who are out for blood.

District 9 sounded and, from it's previews, looked like a great action film which it was - lots of chases, guns and explosions. However, the film was also heavy with social commentary and symbolism without being over the top or in your face. I found myself disgusted and sickened at the treatment of the "prawns" as they're referred to by the humans in the film and, at times, slightly ashamed to be the same species. The actors in the film are largely unknown or newcomers, including Sharlto Copley (van de Merwe) which was a fantastic choice. Viewers are not distracted by big name stars and their egos crowding the screen. There is no way this film could have been set anywhere else but Johannesburg and have the impact it did. According to IMDb.com, "All the shacks in District 9 were actual shacks that exists in a section of Johannesburg which were to be evacuated and the residents moved to better government housing, paralleling the events in the film. Also paralleling, the residents had not actually been moved out before filming began."

I didn't come out of the theatre applauding or grumbling about wasting 2 hours of my time; I walked out silent and contemplative. Good movies should make you think and that's exactly what District 9 did. Despite a few missteps along the way, it was a great effort by Neil Blomkamp. I'd give it 4 cannonballs out of 5. Go and see it today!

View the official trailer HERE.

2 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have been hearing nothing but rave reviews, much like yours, about this film. Okay, I am convinced, I'll see it!

Wandering Coyote said...

I sooooooo want to go and see this!

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