After sitting in the theater for two hours I came to the realization that District 9 is one the best movies of 2009. I have never seen a better debut for both an actor and a director, let alone in the same film. Neil Blomkamp took an original story and made its big screen feature a visually stunning and fantastically shot film. Filming it in a documentary style was the perfect way to capture this riveting story and make it feel real and believable to an audience who may or may not be fans of science fiction. Sharlto Copley, playing the main character Wikus, did an outstanding job in his debut not only capturing the audience’s interest but successfully coming off as an authentic person. He made you feel as if you already knew him while you began wishing you could be there to either give him a friendly hand or a smack in the face as his life’s about to dramatically change.
Prester John from CineFOOLS summed up the movie plot perfectly, so for those who don’t know what it is about here you go. “The story is that of an alien spaceship that landed on earth…[where the aliens are eventually met] with racism and oppression as they are herded into a slum called District 9. The film follows the story of a man who is not afraid to use his government position to show his prejudice against the aliens who are derogatively called Prawns.” Wikum’s will piss you off for a majority of the movie but hopefully by the end you will learn not to hate him too much.
One of my favorite things about district 9 was the development of the story and how it unfolded. There were obviously a lot of contemporary issues that were brought up in the film and are what made this sci-fi piece actually realistic. The existence of strong racial tensions and the whole concept of Multi-National United (MNU) is what exposed these issues. As these issues emerged it enabled people to relate to the film and understand it at its core level. You could almost say that the story had a so-called trail of tears feel to it when you are first introduced to some of the ruthless military guys during their attempt to relocate the aliens to District 10. In reality, it is more representative of the apartheid in South Africa where Blomkamp is from and had lived through it.
Additionally, MNU, a private company who is hired to move the aliens, helped convince the audience that this could be real in one distinct way. MNU’s mission was to simply relocate the aliens but their obvious lack of concern for the species led to many deaths and the exploitation of a species. MNU, modeled after other large corporations, is only in it for the profit and is a perfect example of profit first repercussions later. MNU doesn’t want to see the aliens go and throughout the movie it almost seems like they are trying to hold them hostage long enough so that they can expose their weaponry and other technology. The motive: their desire for maximum profit potential regardless of who is hurt along the way. Sounds a lot like some of the modern day big businesses huh?
My other favorite aspect of the film was the visual effects. The aliens (prawns) looked so realistic and not overly dramatic. The alien technology and weaponry was also very cool. The mechwarriors were pretty standard but their electric ray guns were grand, they will remind you of the legendary ray gun from Nazi Zombies in Call of Duty. The sound effects were dead on with the look and feel of the space ship and everything seemed to just fall perfectly into place throughout the movie. In the end it was the perfect balance of action and plot. Not bad for a movie that cost only $30 million to make.
District 9 has become one of my favorite sci-fi flicks to date and I look forward to seeing more of Blomkamp work in the future. The movie was original in a time where Hollywood seems to be slacking in that department. It is too bad Neil dropped out from making Halo, I’m curious as to what the result might have been if he was still at the helm. If you haven’t seen it already, go see District 9! I promise you won’t regret it.
Rating: An original and realistic alien movie that makes science fiction believable