District 9 (2009)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 75%
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Ranked #146
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In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population, nicknamed "The Prawns," appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The refugee camp where the aliens were located has deteriorated into a militarized ghetto called District 9, where they are confined and exploited in squalor. In 2010, the munitions corporation, Multi-National United, is contracted to forcibly evict the population with operative Wikus van der Merwe in charge. In this operation, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and must rely on the help of his only two new 'Prawn' friends. --IMDb
Sharlto Copley
Sharlto Copley
Jason Cope
Jason Cope
Nathalie Boltt
Nathalie Boltt
Sylvaine Strike
Sylvaine Strike
Elizabeth Mkandawie
Elizabeth Mkandawie
Review by Chad
Added: January 14, 2010
Neill Blomkamp is a name that many were not familiar with prior to this film, but a certain filmmaker by the name of Peter Jackson saw something in him. Blomkamp was the man who was set to direct the movie based off of Halo 3, and after that deal fell apart, Jackson handed the man thirty million dollars and said "here, make a movie." There was no script involved, no storylines pitched... just blind faith that the man would take this money and make something that people would want to see. The end result was District 9, and after sitting through this one, I can safely say that Jackson knew what he was doing. Blomkamp is not a household name, but with a few more releases like this, it will be.

We begin over in Johannesburg, South Africa, where we discover that a massive alien spacecraft is hovering over the city. It's not unloading hordes of aliens onto the terrified city below, it's not blowing up buildings, and it's not abducting drunken rednecks for future anal probing... it's just hovering there, and it stays there for weeks. Finally we - the human race - decide to investigate, and we do so by cutting our way into the craft with cameras in hand. We discover countless prawn-like aliens aboard, malnourished, weakened, and scared, and we do the only sensible thing: we bring them down to earth and put them in a containment area over in the slum area of the city. There they stay for almost thirty years, facing abuse from the humans and scavenging for supplies while also haggling for "drugs" from the local Nigerian gangs, and then the MNU (Multi-National United) enters the picture.

Led by Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), the MNU decides to move these aliens out of district 9 and into district 10 due to the repeated conflicts between humans and aliens (as it turns out, the humans aren't too fond of the aliens living in their neck of the woods). Of course, the MNU is going to handle this move by the book, complete with eviction notices requiring signatures from each of the aliens, and if any of those prawns decide to decline signing the papers, well... the marines are there to give them a little "encouragement" courtesy of their weaponry. Unfortunately, Wikus is sprayed with some type of black liquid while he is collecting signatures, and this alien liquid has some rather bizarre effects on its human host. I will tread no further into the storyline.

Presented as a faux-documentary / sci-fi / action / thriller / drama film with a dash of cinéma vérité thrown in for good measure, District 9 is a film that managed to divide fans down the middle upon its release. Some proclaimed this to be the movie to see of 2009, while others labeled it as a colossal failure. Personally, I don't agree with either of those sides, but I do lean more towards the former than the latter. While I did enjoy the film as a whole and would definitely recommend it, there were a few minor details that did bug me as the story unfolded.

For example, there were some comedic aspects of the film early on that I thought fell flat and detracted from the atmosphere that the film was building. There is a fine line between building your leading man as a bumbling idiot and building him as almost a comedic relief character, and during the earlier parts of the film, I think that they crossed the line a bit too much. I also thought that more could have been done with the storyline, as this general idea (human gets infected and has nobody to turn to, everybody wants to find him) has been done a few times already. Granted, it was done exceptionally well here, but it wasn't the most original thing that I've ever seen.

With that out of the way, there is a lot of good things to be said about the movie. For starters, the visual effects are amazing. Your jaw will drop when you see that massive spacecraft hovering above the city, and the CGI work used to bring the aliens to life was nothing short of perfection. I usually prefer a good ol' man-in-a-suit over computer graphics due to the believability factor, but in this release, the CGI is so good that you never once get pulled out of the story. Truth be told, I actually didn't know they were done with CGI until after the credits had rolled and I read about it over on IMDb - now that is some impressive work.

I also thought that the characters brought a lot to the movie. During the first act of the film, we can't really side with anybody involved in the story: the humans are assholes, and the aliens aren't much better. I was thinking that this was going to be the norm throughout the movie, but Wikus quickly becomes sympathetic and falls into his groove while a few of the aliens make their presence known and contribute heavily to the enjoyment. Again, the surrounding storyline and the characters within may have been done before, but when it works this well, you can't help but sit back and enjoy the ride.

So, do I need to revise my "Best of 2009" list to include District 9? No, I don't think so... but at the same time, I will give it a solid recommendation for those of you who enjoy exceptional science fiction coupled with a hearty helping of the human element. 9/10.
Lucid Dreams #1: Lucid Dreams - added 01/14/2010, 11:03 AM
It was alright, very different that is for sure, but I was getting bored in a few parts. 6/10
Tobes #2: Tobes - added 01/14/2010, 12:28 PM
The important question is...Were they really on Earth the whole time?
Optimus Prime #3: Optimus Prime - added 01/14/2010, 04:17 PM
I absolutely loved it... probably my favorite of 2009. I don't really know what parts were boring. And no, they weren't on Earth the whole time? Why would you say that? 10/10.
Tobes #4: Tobes - added 01/14/2010, 07:46 PM
Joke between me and Chad about it
Optimus Prime #5: Optimus Prime - added 01/16/2010, 12:05 AM
Oh, yeah. Whoops.
Griffinheart #6: Griffinheart - added 01/18/2010, 01:14 PM
How many movies have you seen in the last year that are better than a 9/10?
Chad #7: Chad - added 01/18/2010, 04:22 PM
Since 2008-12-24, I've given nineteen 10/10 ratings. Not sure how many 10/10's I've left in comments though, that's just for movies I've reviewed.
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