Review: District 9

If you see only one alien immigrant apartheid fake docu-drama this year, it’s got to be District 9.

District 9 is a fun, far more action-oriented movie than I was anticipating.  Populated by no-name actors (well, not to their moms) and directed by a VFS drop-out, this is probably one of the better summer movies that doesn’t follow that particular formula, I.E. big explosions, plot written in crayon, big explosions, and things blow up…read: G.I. Joe.

And FINALLY, a movie where the trailer doesn’t ruin the movie.   If you’ve seen the trailer, it does a great job of making you believe you’re watching a great documentary about segregation in South Africa…well you are, except for that documentary part.

Aliens come to Earth for some unexplained reason and their ship stalls above Johannesburg.  With no place to go, the aliens, or “prawns” as they are labeled, are put in slums and treated as second-class citizens for the next 20 or so years.  A multi-national organization is given the authority to move the “immigrants” from the slums to a concentration camp-type facility.  This relocation leads to confrontation, cultural misunderstanding, prejudice, and violence.  It was actually hard to watch at times, feeling empathy for the mistreatment of CGI creatures.  Nicely done rookie director…George Lucas makes me want to punch Jar Jar in the mouth and you make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

There are a few twists and certainly enough people blowing up to keep anyone interested but it also brings thoughts of apartheid and how this particular scenario mirrors much of our own history.  They say science fiction is the best format to show society’s ills and much like a really good Twilight Zone episode, District 9 is no exception.

The movie was done on a shoestring budget ($30 million) and yet looks better than most of those that crack the 150 mark.  (I’m looking at you Van Helsing). The special effects were actually pretty special, whether it was the creatures themselves, their spaceship or the weapons that spend much of the movie blowing people/aliens up.   The gritty, documentary style camera work was also well done.  I was worried it might be a little too shaky, causing seasickness in an otherwise stationary theatre but that didn’t happen at all.  (this was the reason I didn’t like Cloverfield).

DISTRICT 9 Rating:
3 tickets – you’d recommend this. 
So you’ve got an original, science fictiony (it’s a word), action-packed, intelligent movie that fills its 2 hour running time.  I’m sure your friends have already mentioned how good it is.  This time they’re right.  Go already.

Coming Attractions:
Law Abiding Citizen
– a pissed off Gerard Butler takes on the legal system, played and represented by Jaimie Foxx.  It’s like TAKEN but instead of going after faceless Europeans, 300 guy is going after Ray Charles!


Randomly Recommended

Great pseudo-documentary: Blair Witch Project.  Just the marketing machine completely over blew what is actually a very original and very scary piece of film.  Check it out again for old times sake.


Peter Jackson recommends District 9, so I recommend Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures.  A pre-Lord of the Rings Jackson takes a pre-Titanic Kate Winslet and turns up the crazy in New Zealand.


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  1. Sheldon Johnson says:

    Good for you for using the term “shoestring budget”.

  2. Got to agree with you, its a great movie!! And Im not just saying that cause I married a south african 🙂

  3. Amazing movie, utterly heartbreaking (for the aliens). The character development, special effects were all very impressive. And it was left out of awards season. what a shame.

    The sequel should be called “District 10: payback” with humans in those camps (i kid i kid)

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