Movie Review: District 9

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Imagine the aliens come to Earth and are stuck here. Their ship has broken down and remains hovering above south Africa while the inhabitants of the ship are weak and in need of care. In steps an organization to provide shelter and protection for the alien life forms, referred to as prawns, but the new residents wear out their welcome and face discrimination from the humans.

District 9, though I expected good things, was better than I had anticipated. The plot of District 9 was unique and the movie did not count on stunning visual effects as I had feared initially. With director Neill Blomkamp recognized more for his visual effects work (Dark Angel, Stargate SG-1) you can probably see why I was concerned that District 9 would turn into the next Independence Day.

Not knowing much about the story line heading into seeing the movie I had a belief that District 9 would be almost like an adaptation of Independence Day. You can see why one might assume that just by looking at the screenshot up above. Look familiar?

But really even though the premise of aliens coming to Earth in order to fight for survival is a recurring theme in cinema, that is where the similarities between Independence Day and District 9 come to an abrupt end.

District 9 is a story of compassion and dealing with differences in a political world. The typical characteristic of aliens in movies has long been the desire to annihilate the human race and take control of the Earth whether for inhabiting for a new home or destroying it for other reasons. Not so in District 9. In this case the aliens are stuck here and require the humans to help them survive. Some humans are willing to help while other seek to take advantage of the stranded alien race.

The movie is shot in the form of a documentary, following the actions of Wikus van de Merwe, played by Sharlto Copley. Wikus is in charge of relocating the alien community to a new location that is isolated form the citizens of Johannesburg, South Africa, where they have lived since 1982. Along the way he crosses paths with Christopher Johnson, one of the more intelligent prawns living in the camp ground. Johnson has been working over the past 20 years to build a ship that could move him to the mother ship and return him to his home planet, along with his young son and fellow aliens. Johnson's plans get derailed after encountering Wikus, but I will leave the spoilers out from this point forward.

Movie Info
District 9 from TriStar Pictures
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Genre: Dramatic sci-fi
Rated: R
Running time: 112 minutes

Score of 1 to 10: 8.8

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