19
Aug
09

Movie Review: District 9

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Take some apartheid, mix in some aliens…

Starring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and Vanessa Haywood. Directed by Neil Blomkamp

It’s the best sci-fi I’ve seen in a while (better than “Moon”) and I’ll see if I can impress upon you what the movie is.

The story: Twenty years ago an alien spaceship came to Earth and hovered over Johannesburg. Not D.C., L.A., NYC, or even Chi-town, but Johannesburg, South Africa. The ship just hovered there and after 3 months the government made contact by sending a team into the ship where they found refugees. The government segregates the aliens into “District 9” and place signs all around telling people to contact authorities if they’re spotted outside their area. Meanwhile the district turns into a black market slum with the aliens (called “prawn”) scavenging for food and supplies through garbage, being serviced by prostitutes, and controlled by a paralyzed warlord named Mumbo. They trade with Mumbo for the one Earth commodity they crave: cat food. Mumbo also provides them with mutilated cow meat.

Fast forward to now. South Africa is fed up with housing the prawn and dealing with them. MNU, the government agency dealing with the prawn, has been given a new assignment: relocate them to District 10, a much smaller encampment. Heading up the group is our protagonist Wilkus Van de Merwe. Wilkus is an affable doofus who got the job because his beautiful wife happens to be the daughter of the guy running MNU. With his head stuck naively somewhere in corporate policy, Wilkus goes to move ‘em aliens.

Doing that isn’t as easy as advertised. The prawn are contrary, lying, refusing to go, causing complications because they’re supposed to be given 24 hours before eviction, etc. Wilkus finds a lot of weapons to collect and a helluva lot of hostility towards humans. Go figure. When he finds a canister with alien writing on it he pushes a button while inspecting it instantly sprays himself in the face with black “fluid.”

Now Wilkus is infected. He coughs and his nose runs black blood. After collapsing during a surprise birthday party he’s hospitalized when it’s found that… his hand has just became like the prawn! He’s quickly sent to underground MNU where they conduct experiments on him; namely, having him fire the prawn weaponry (the weapons only work biologically, so human DNA won’t operate them). He’s strapped against a metal closure and zapped with electricity, forcing him to operate their guns. Wilkus makes his escape and heads to District 9.

Wilkus’s body is changing and he’s beginning to hate it; he scarfs down cat food only to vomit it up moments later. In hiding he teams up with Christopher Johnson, a prawn he previously tried to evict. Johnson tells him that he can be changed back but first he needs to get the “fluid” back and that involves a suicide-mission to MNU’s underground labs. To do this they’re gonna need weapons which they get back from Mumbo, who vows his revenge. What follows is action, adventure, explosions, and the question: what does being ‘human’ really mean?

First off, get rid of the hype. This IS a good movie and you might leave the theater with the feeling that someone or something punched you in the stomach. It’s not this decade’s next “Dark City”: it’s something different. For that, it’s worth the hype.

But it’s NOT the be-all end-all, greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s a first film and there are some flaws. The transitions in Wilkus’s character toward the end might be plausible, but seem a little “sped up.” How can humans understand the aliens’ language? Or vice-versa? Also, some of the beginning CG is a little “iffy” of believability.

These things aside, I do recommend seeing “District 9.” I liked it more than “Moon” (but recommend it as well). With this being Blomkamp’s first feature movie, I’ll be looking out for what he does next.

My grade: B

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1 Response to “Movie Review: District 9”


  1. June 4, 2010 at 10:44 am

    District 9 was a great movie to watch. At first half hour, I was just thinking that the movie pace is a bit slow but as the movie flowed, boy it was great to watch. I think it is one of the best Sci-fi movie released in that year.

    Like


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