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District 9

 

 
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Direction
 
 
 
 
 


 
Plot
 
 
 
 
 


 
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Reviewer's Thoughts

District 9 is sci-fi perfection. There is a satirical human parallel to it (for those of you who are really itching to find one), there is nothing forced with it’s direction and there is no clear-cut good or evil. What we are shown is a documentary about one Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) and […]

Posted August 14, 2009 by

 
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District 9District 9 is sci-fi perfection. There is a satirical human parallel to it (for those of you who are really itching to find one), there is nothing forced with it’s direction and there is no clear-cut good or evil. What we are shown is a documentary about one Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) and his work, going from being promoted to being the central focus of a huge episode in human and alien relations. Arguably one of the year’s top films, District 9 tugs at your heart strings as real human and alien emotion is shown in a very different location than the ever popular United States of America.  Due to the drought in original stories as of late I was very excited to see this and when I saw that it would be a sci-fi “us vs them” story I just had to see it on opening night.

The movie starts out using a 3rd person’s documentary type angle (think Cloverfield or Quarantine)  and the gritty look and great acting tends to mislead you from the start. As the film progresses it takes on the familiar “action cam” angle and by this time you are too into the story to probably notice. As things progress, the direction is done so well despite it’s fast pace that you begin to believe that these events could either happen or will happen if we received alien visitors in the same method that the earthlings on screen had. We are shown the evil of the bureaucracy who care little for anything outside of money and war then we are shown an ugly comparison in men and their quest for power. The unique twist however is the aliens are just as vulnerable and savage as the humans are, unlike most sci-fi films where the aliens are all honor and damn near faultless.

With the location being set in Johannesburg and a heavy dose of the humans being of African descent you will probably read many reviews screaming racism. What I saw instead is the savagery of not only the African humans but of every single person in the movie. The main human is a blundering coward of the worst kind, the military is as blood thirsty as the aliens and the Nigerians are just as bad as the scheming white men. Lots of savagery to pass around, to point out that the Africans were being exploited is reaching a bit in my honest opinion. The cinematography and setting made District 9 seem like a hot, sandy and miserable ghetto to live in. One could point to many disadvantaged cultures to parallel the alien visitors to as they are shuffled from slum to slum, resorting to crime and dealing with opportunistic gangsters and government leeches. As I watched the atrocities happen onscreen I was not thinking racism, I was only disgusted and ashamed to be a human being. This sentiment coming from the deep down belief that we are very, very capable of being inhumane if given the chance.

It goes without saying that the special effects are top notch. We go from a sandy shootout with blood and guts splattering the invisible cameraman, to seeing a holographic alien dashboard, complete with sliding controls and buttons. The dismembered limbs look real and when people get disintegrated, it’s quite a view to behold. Neill Blommkamp has brought the house on this one and with Peter Jackson’s name on the marquee there is no doubt that this will be a cult classic for sci-fi nuts like myself. If anything else you can compare this to movies and shows like V, Alien Nation and The Day The Earth Stood Still but in the element of human drama, there really is nothing to compare to District 9. Sharlto Copley was the shining star of this movie and he was as believable as he was memorable. My emotions went from being annoyed by him, to being disgusted and then finally ending in respecting and cheering for him. For his first major film as an actor, he was the perfect choice over any known big name that would have taken our attention away from the most important thing – the story.

In the end there was no moral to the story, and though it left questions in our heads, those questions seemed better for us to discuss amongst ourselves. When you see it, and I urge you to definitely see it, I will say my opinion is that after 3 years the promise will be kept and it won’t be a pretty reunion. Ah the humanity.

[rating=10]


Greg Dragon

 
Cinephile and opinion writer, Greg Dragon has been a fan of movies since the 80's when Kung Fu theater was all the rage and Roger Moore was James Bond. Greg is the founder and lead critic of Spicy Movie Dogs. You can follow him on Twitter @Rafacus or on his Google+ account.


  • \We are shown the evil of the bureaucracy who care little for anything outside of money and war then we are shown an ugly comparison in men and their quest for power.\

    I agree and mentioned this in my review.

    \but in the element of human drama, there really is nothing to compare to District 9′

    The Host has the human element that District 9 has: http://film-book.com/review-the-host/

    District 9 was definitely better than I was expecting.

  • I think it’s a really good movie. It shares elements with such fare as ‘Alien Nation’ (the TV series) and even the movie ‘Dances With Wolves’ in that the protagonist eventually ends up becoming a part of the alien community – in this case through a physical transformation.

    I don’t think the aliens were meant to represent any specific group of people – making them actual space aliens was just a way to show what would happen to “the next group of aliens off the boat”.

    The film does hold a mirror up to S.A. society, and you can see some inherent racism in people’s attitudes to each other, for example how Wikus’s right-hand guy is not given a protective vest to wear when they first go into District 9. That was deliberate, obviously, and shows how things really are. The characters were, mostly, your typical “clueless South Africans”, with the attitudes to match.

    The movie certainly does make one think. And more so if you’re from the city where the ship arrived! (I am a native Joburger.)