Movie Review: Futuristic, Thought Provoking District 9 2009

(District 9 poster – the aliens look very mean but in the movie, they were not and often abused by the humans – Image source: Wikipedia)

I suppose to catch District 9 movie on the first day of opening but it just happened that it started to rain and my trip to the cineplex was cancelled. I guess I should have braced through the rain – this has to be one of the best alien movies in recent years.

The Plot

Read the details of the District 9 plot here

District 9 Movie Alien

(In District 9, the aliens a.k.a the prawns are at the losing end where they fare worse than humans – the hero of the aliens watching the humans killing his friend from a hidden place)

Storyline

It is another alien meets human being story but unlike the aliens in the movies – Independence Day or the War of the World, the aliens in District 9 are not so tough and less superior to humans. They have superior weapons but they can be easily killed by humans – there is no special shield protecting them.

The aliens arrive as refugees and soon are placed in refugee camps which turn into slums. The story starts when the main character in the movie, Wikus van der Merwe assigned to take charge and starts to issue eviction notices to the aliens and accidentally got sprayed with some alien fluid.

It then turns out to be a race to save the aliens from the humans rather than humans from the aliens – don’t expect to see the usual grand speeches by the US President on how humans will overcome the alien invasion. It is simply greedy and corrupt humans making every effort to grab the alien technology to make more powerful weapons.

At end of the day, aliens are the victims and are being terrorised by the humans. We take pity on the aliens and Wikus van der Merwe who himself slowly turning into an alien. At the end of the movie, we are left with a question mark – did the aliens returned after 3 years and healed Wikus van der Merwe as promised?

District 9 Movie Alien

(It is not CNN but the ‘breaking news’ looks real enough – by the way that is a real-life South African’s Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV) down there)

Directorship

Neill Blomkamp is a South African born, Vancouver, BC-based director – so it was not a surprise to see the District 9 movie taking place in South Africa and in apartheid akin of environment where instead of the blacks vs the dominant whites, it is the aliens vs the dominant humans.

There is a unique style that Blomkamp deploys for the movie – it starts with interviews and ends with interviews. This adds to the realism of the movie and sets the expectation of the viewers at the very start. News commentary is added to explain things or raise doubts.

The viewers have questions such as why the alien ship has to come to South Africa instead of the usual New York or London or Washington. And these questions are also raised in the news commentaries which makes the viewers realise that the moviemakers have asked the same questions when they made the movie.

District 9 Movie Alien

(Wikus slowly turning into a prawn – a character well-acted by Sharlto Copley from the start to the end in District 9)

Acting

No big names here in District 9 and perhaps that is the strength of the movie – there is no high expectation from the viewers before the start of the movie.

Sharlto Copley simply shines as Wikus van der Merwe, a worker at the MNU Department for Relations with Extraterrestrial Civilizations. According to IMDB, Sharlto Copley had not acted before and had no intention of pursuing an acting career.

District 9 Movie Alien

(Hey, it is not Washington – the aliens have arrived and became refugees – the mother ship remains to hover for the next 20 years)

Unbelievable CGI

Simply unbelievable – the art of CGI is better and better by minutes.

The aliens in District 9 were designed by Weta Workshop – Peter Jackson’s company that played a huge role in his Lord of Ring trilogy. They are known as ‘prawns” and in fact, they do look like prawns. The spaceship looks so real and with news commentaries alike presentation, the realness gets one notch up

District 9 Movie Alien

(Wikus now with infused alien DNA is being tested in the hidden MNU lab on the alien’s weaponry – Wikus is not happy about it)

Violence

There is plenty of violence indeed – it felt ‘ok’ to see the humans shoot down defenceless aliens out of greed and for fun but when the same humans get to be blown to bits of pieces by aliens in the name of self-defence, it looks too gory and violent.

Perhaps we keep saying to ourselves that the aliens are nothing but CGI and humans are not but where do we draw the line? After all, don’t we go to the movies to get ourselves into an alternate reality?

Final say

The plus points: The plot, CGI and of course, Sharlto Copley

The negative points: Not for young children

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0 thoughts on “Movie Review: Futuristic, Thought Provoking District 9 2009

  1. I aboslutely LOVED this movie!!!! So the real and so the violent!!! Hahahaha. I loved how everyone was so ‘unknown’ so it had a very real feel to it. Brilliant!

    1. When I first saw Wikus van der Merwe in the opening, I thought the movie is going to suck – when I saw unfamiliar joker – never thought he will pull it off! District 9 ended as THE movie to see

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