District 9

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 is the best South African sci-fi film ever made, I’m pretty sure of that. In March of 1982, a huge alien spaceship arrives over Johannesburg. It’s filled with a bunch of sick and dying aliens, and they are forcibly relocated them into District 9, a government camp where they can live in squalor and poverty. A guy named Wikus is tasked with relocating the aliens to a new camp, but things hit a snag when he gets infected by a mysterious fluid and starts mutating into an alien

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The aliens of District 9 are humanoid insect looking things called prawns. They have their own language, but can understand English. They have a thing for cat food. The South African government hired a private military company called Multinational United to remove the aliens from District 9 into a new ghetto called District 10. Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copely) works at MNU, and while he’s in the middle of serving up eviction notices in District 9 he gets sprayed by a weird black fluid. Before long his hand and arm start mutating, becoming prawnlike.

MNU finds out, and they start experimenting on him. His newfound prawn DNA makes him the only human who can use alien weaponry. Wikus escapes from MNU and goes back to District 9 to find a cure.

He returns to the house where he got sprayed. It’s owned by a prawn named Christopher Johnson and his young prawn son. Christopher tells him that the fluid is spaceship fuel, and the prawns need it to go home, but it will also revert Wikus back to human form. Wikus and Christopher launch an attack on MNU headquarters, grab the fuel and try to reactivate the spaceship.

In the climatic battle, Wikus and Christopher are getting shot at by MNU soldiers and Nigerian gangsters. The best way to end a movie about alien racism is to have a shootout. It’s logical, it’s practical, it’s the only reasonable way to end the movie.

District 9 has a lot of political undertones. It’s a commentary on racism and bigotry. Wikus is an asshole in the beginning. He sees the prawns as inferior. He just assumes that he is better than they are. As he starts to become less human, he becomes more humane. He starts to care about the prawns, and at the end he sacrifices himself for them.

This is a cool movie. There are no big name actors. It’s shot like a documentary, with lots of interviews, hand-held shots, and pseudo-found footage. The CG prawns look realistic and the action scenes are pretty intense. It was originally a short film called Alive in Joburg, and it was expanded into the flick that it became.

District 9 proved that you can make a successful sci-fi movie without any stars, an established director, or a huge budget. All you need is a cool concept and an explosive over the top ending where people blow up and splatter blood everywhere. It’s a good movie with a mediocre ending. But it has a great concept and that’s what makes the movie worth watching.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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