District 9 Review

by Ed Lau on September 9, 2009

District 9

As I said on Twitter last week, Inglourious Basterds wasn’t the only movie I would be seeing. I was actually in for a double-header of Basterds and Peter Jackson’s latest film, District 9. To be honest, even after seeing the trailer and such, I wasn’t really looking forward to it despite the rave reviews. It just didn’t look that good…I mean, if you’ve seen one movie about aliens, you’ve probably seen them all, right? I’m happy to admit that I was very wrong about my first impressions and District 9 is one to see even if you don’t enjoy movies about extra-terrestrial beyond E.T..

District 9 begins as a sort of mockumentary about a stranded ship containing over a million aliens or “prawns” as the movie describes them, playing off their appearance. The ship seems to have lost power while floating above the earth and after a long wait, the people of earth went to cut it open only to discover that the ship’s population is malnourished and sick. While the original intent of the mission was humanitarian (can we even say that if they’re not humans?), twenty years later, the Prawn refugee settlement eventually resulted in a large, poverty-stricken and crime-riddled slum of Johannesburg known as District 9.

District 9

The mockumentary is only really the first act that serves to set up the plot and introduce us to the characters. Since District 9 has become such a cesspool, the government has tasked a private security firm known as Multi-National United to move the entire population to a newer facility. In charge of this large operation is a newly promoted and largely clueless bureaucrat Wikus van der Merwe, who is the star of the mockumentary, guiding the film crew through District 9 as he gets the Prawns to sign eviction notices and gleefully yanks on various tubes of the incubation units producing their young before torching them. We can only assume Wikus has either seen all this many times before or he has no sense of danger as he plays around with an unidentified tube that sprays him with a strange black liquid. Either way, he obviously isn’t the smartest guy in town. Sharlto Copley is very good as Wikus, by the way.

The only other real character in the film is a Prawn strangely named Christopher Johnson, who has been masterminding a plan to flee District 9 and take his people, including his young son CJ, back to their homeworld.

District 9

District 9 gives us a lot to think about. Early movie posters had me believing the film was going to explore themes of human rights (or rather non-human rights) and racism. I’m quite certain that we are supposed to feel sympathy for the Prawns but everything from their appearance to their rude and detestable behavior makes us feel otherwise. Apart from Christopher Johnson and his doe-eyed child, the Prawns are rather unlikeable creatures. However, this isn’t to say that the humans in the film are particularly likable either…to the point where you don’t really care as they shoot each other in the face. They do that a lot, by the way, as the action is quite visceral and somewhat gory.

The second half of the film leaves the mockumentary style behind and turns into a handheld camera action-fest as everyone arms themselves, kick ass and take names. Despite how we are somewhat led to believe otherwise by the opening act, District 9 is simply an alien action film by the last act. I can’t help but be slightly disappointed by this since it could have been a lot more given the subject and set-up.

However, it does offer something different to the genre and is a very well crafted film with little fluff in the 111 minute runtime. Not the best movie I’ve seen recently or even as good as it could be but still a very entertaining movie.

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

in Entertainment

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Make money And blogging tips September 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm

damn,… this is really nice movie.. since i love to watch x files or fiction series… this will be one of the best movie collection


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