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Movie Review: District 9 (August, 2009)

Producer: Peter Jackson
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp, order Terri Tatchell
Actors Sharlto Copley as Wikus Van de Merwe

If there is anything that District 9 isn’t, is that of a typical alien invasion film. I’ve heard several misconceptions about what the film is supposed to be like, and they’re not completely accurate. People going into see it may believe that the movie is about a group of aliens who want to live on earth, who want to invade earth, and may be full of computer effects and action, but in reality, it is not.

What District 9 is, is a well, thought out film that is essentially a social commentary and definitely not a film for everyone. It is rather slow paced, and the way that it is filmed (documentary style) can be a turn off for a few. I’ve even read by a few movie goers that they believed the movie plot is weak. Though the surrounding story may not be that strong, I feel that the core of the story and the message that it tries to convey is quite good.

We are first introduced to Wikus, a MNU (basically the alien unit) worker who was recently promoted to work directly with the aliens, or “prawns” that they are referred to. He is being asked to evict them from the area they live named “District 9”, to a location 250km away from Johannesberg by asking for their “signature”. Without revealing too much, he discovers something while in District 9 which changes his life forever.

While many alien stories today are simply just a lot of fun, action, and computer graphics (which I admit I thoroughly enjoy), I feel “District 9” dives a bit further into the minds of humans, and we are shown a scenario of “how humans might react when aliens decide to enter earth’s atmosphere”. However, it’s more than just how we react to aliens, but how humans react to something new, different or something we don’t understand.

To get to the point, I found the movie absolutely fascinating. A lot of energy was placed into generating the aliens and making it look as though they were really a part of the slums in Johannesberg and interacting with Wikus and the human population. The result has been truly impressive. Newcomer Sharlto Copley, who plays Wikus, also does the excellent job having to deal with a crazy scenario, but making it seem believable, and even at times, humorous. We get a good sense of what kind of person he is as the movie progresses. When the movie begins, he is a proud, rather awkward, unaware, somewhat spine-less person who becomes someone who is quite likeable and brave.

Sitting in the theatre with others after the movie ended, I could tell that the movie was generating some mixed reactions. People who went were expecting something different after all the hype. One thing I know for sure is that I immediately liked it. It’s not the typical blockbuster movie, but I admit I’m a sucker for a well made movie on social commentary which I felt ‘District 9’ delivered on all levels. It did not get bogged down in its message (as I feel so many other movies do – “Crash” is a good example); I’m not overlooking its weaknesses, but I would definitely recommend it to other people. However, the one caveat I have is that it is not for everyone, and should be recommended accordingly. I do think it’s safe to say that the majority will like this film.

4.5 invaders / 5 invaders

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