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District 9 (2009)

You are not welcome here.

Starring:

Barry Strydom

Elizabeth Mkandawie

Greg Melvill-Smith

Jason Cope

Jed Brophy

John Sumner

Louis Minnaar

Morena Busa Sesatsa

Mzwandile Nqoba

Nathalie Boltt

Nick Blake

Sharlto Copley

Sylvaine Strike

Themba Nkosi

William Allen Young

Directed by:

Neill Blomkamp

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 112 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States, New Zealand (Aotearoa), South Africa

I was instantly suspicious of District 9, because it’s been a while since a film—especially a sci-fi film—has received such universal praise. Even the guys online who usually get their movies pirate-style were saying no, you HAVE to see this one in a theater. So, I was ready for greatness, but my cynical side was prepared for disappointment. My cynical side should’ve stayed home, because it was very soundly pummeled by my movie-loving side.

Unlike pretty much every aliens-come-to-Earth movie, the aliens of District 9 didn’t come guns blazing, they didn’t plan to overtake our planet, and they weren’t even on some expedition to share their vast knowledge. In fact, it’s not really ever really explained why they’re here, just that twenty years prior to the film’s opening, their ship seemed to break down mid-hover over Johannesburg, South Africa and since then, these aliens have been forced to live in slums and treated horribly by us humans. As an example of this, we see what happened when one Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), on assignment to relocate some aliens to another district, finds himself on the bad end of things, and he has to face his own humanity—what that means exactly.

It’s a hard film to describe, this District 9, because it truly is so many genres all in one. It’s definitely and blatantly science fiction, because there are aliens, spaceships, and gunfire a’plenty. But it’s also very much a social commentary, which though, at times, is a little heavy-handed, it’s still timely, still thought-provoking, and even in its heavy handedness, is still sometimes subtle. Probably the best decision anyone could have made with this film was to fill the cast with an ensemble of virtual unknowns, and even with all the action (done superbly, by the way, as are the makeup and effects), it never feels like an “action” flick because there’s not a big, recognizable guns and bombs star like Will Smith or Tom Cruise. In the hands of an experienced director, this would still have been a fantastic movie, but Neill Blomkamp, director and co-screenwriter, is new to these waters, and that itself makes it phenomenal—but the fact that all that stuff is true AND a large part of the film is in alien subtitle spoken by creatures that are by no means the Holywood alien ideal for looking at … well, you see how it could’ve been a disaster.

Overall, I hate it when a critic uses words like “phenomenal” or “fantastic” and goes all gushy like a fangirl. District 9 is that good, though, and is really a movie you have to see about four times, for yourself, because if you don’t, you’ll be missing out on a future classic.

It's Got: Unknown actors delivering spectacular performances, perfect special effects, a timely story

It Needs: To be seen

Alternatives:

Alien Nation, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, District 9, Transformers

Summary

A film that transcends in genre, District 9 is an instant classic that gives sci-fi the boost of credibility it’s deserved for a long time.

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One Comment

  1. Posted January 6, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    ok so first is the thing with this film is that not everyone liked it and it was only for certine people i absoluty loved the consepe of it and the way they treated the aliens was like how the black comunity was treated in the same contry so i thought it was good but other then that i disliked the movie would not watch it again in a theater

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