District 9 (R) ★★★

An Intriguing and Inventive Sci-Fi

In 1982, a massive, stalled, spaceship housing about a million creatures
resembling a mixture of grasshoppers and lobsters (human in size, walk on 2
feet although heads and hands are webbed) hovered over the sandy streets of
Johannesburg. These aliens, better known as “prawns,” are nicknamed for
their grotesque appearance and repulsive behavior. Lonely and starving,
these alien refugees are hoping to relocate…on the ground. This idea is
frightening to all humans and they want these intruders out!
Twenty-eight years later, the humans are finally taking action to regain their country.

Fueled by the fury, a private interest group, Multi-National United (MNU),
hires agent, Wikus van der Merwe played by Sharlto Copley, to investigate
fenced off area inhabited by the aliens, also known as District 9. Ransacking
through refugee homes, Van der Merwe attempts to find alien DNA that can
produce firepower. During his mission, he forms an unexpected relationship
with two aliens, Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope) and his young son, Little
C.J. This relationship is uncomfortable at first but soon grows heartwarming.
If this relationship ever got back to MNU though Van der Merwe knew he
may never again see the light of day. This is not his biggest challenge,
however. Once he comes into contact with a mysterious and (unbeknownst
to him) priceless substance his life changes forever…

As Van der Merwe, begins morphing into the very same creature he was
researching, he sees his family life crumble. His wife, Tania, played by
Vanessa Haywood, doesn’t know who to trust as her father is Van der
Merwe’s boss and both have two completely different stories in regards to
the MNU turmoil (they have never been on good terms). After finally
reaching his wife via cell phone, Van der Merwe tries to assure her that
everything will be okay and back to normal soon. As he watches his arm
grow yet another tentacle, however, he cannot help but doubt the promise he
just made.

Originally, an apartheid system, South Africa had complete separation
between white and black. In the film, there is this same separation between
humans and aliens. This illustrates to the audience that even though
apartheid is over, it can easily happen again because society despises
differences. This film demonstrates that no matter what day and age we are
in – if power lands in the wrong hands that a holocaust can easily reoccur
and that the fueling hatred of differences will grow within society.

Producer, Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings 2001, 2002, 2003) began this project with the money out of his own pocket. District 9 was filmed in New Zealand, as his production hub is located there.

Director, Neill Blomkamp, uses a handheld camera and harsh lighting to set
the scene. The beginning of the film is shot in documentary style but as the
film progresses it transforms into narrative story following main character,
Wikus van Der Merwe. This transformation from documentary to narrative
type filming makes this film unique compared to the other Oscar nominees.
Blomkamp intertwines history and a unique sci-fi story with co-writer, Terri
Tatchell. The emergent relationship between the two aliens and Van Der
Merwe is worth witnessing not to mention the nail biting scenes at the end!

Bottom Line? If you are a sci-fi fan this movie is a must-see! If you don’t
like repulsive images, bodily fluids, bugs, sea creature-looking robots and a
lot of violence this movie may not be for you.

District 9 is nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture,
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best
Achievement in Visual Effects.

Jessica Aymond © August 14, 2009