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District 9

2 Ratings: 5.0
Blu-ray and Science Fiction & Fantasy movie directed by Neill Blomkamp

A provocative science fiction drama,District 9boasts an original story that gets a little lost in blow-'em-up mayhem. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa,District 9begins as a mock documentary about the imminent eviction of extraterrestrials from a pathetic … see full wiki

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Genre: Blu-ray, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
1 review about District 9

First contact in hell

  • Apr 18, 2010
Most sci-fi movies about first contact with aliens are optimistic about humanity, portraying the event either as a chance for peoples of different nations to make common cause against alien enemies (Independence Day [Blu-ray]) or a moment that inspires us to reach for the stars (Star Trek VIII: First Contact). While fun, most of these movies feel more like fantasy than a probable reality.

District 9, by contrast, takes a different approach. This movies is about a first contact from hell, in which alien refugees are corralled into slums by cynical humans. This is certainly a very, very different portrayal of first contact. The film's approach to humanity, the mix of opportunism and sheer indifference, strike me as jarringly realistic. I know it sounds crazy, but at times I though to myself: yeah, this does seem possible. This could be how it happens.

Part of District 9's success comes from the way it was filmed. Much of the movie is filmed as if it were a documentary. Television crews accompany the hapless bureaucrat Wilkus (Sharlto Copley) as he evicts the aliens from their shacks, giving it the feel of a news report more than sci-fi/fantasy movie. The movie also interviews "experts" in alien biology and sociology, which brings audiences up to speed on the situation. At first, I was skeptical about this cinematographical technique because it sounded a bit corny, but it's actually very effective. It really helps blur the distinction between reality and the movie, allowing viewers to become totally absorbed in the story.

I was a bit disappointed that, midway through the film, it seemed to descend a bit more into a typical action flick. It never quite went too far to spoil the movie. In fact, one of the things I really loved about the movie is how the characters responded. Even during the most intense battles, when other movies would have simply focused on the big fireballs, District 9 has compelling moments when the various characters must make important choices.

I thought everything else in District 9 was superb, from the acting to the soundtrack. The special effects were great. I loved the design of the aliens. These aren't simply giant blue people (a la Avatar). The "prawns" as they're called are alien enough that they look creepy and make you sympathize a bit with the government's decision to quarantine them. However, they also are able to convey emotions and demonstrate their intelligence and humane side.

District 9 is easily one of the most original films I've seen this past decade. It's got the spunk, soul, and plot that films like Avatar simply don't possess. Highly recommended. I hope there's a sequel.

Note: The DVD has some of the best deleted scenes I've ever seen. There is a lot of material not included in the film, including a lecture about the anatomy of the aliens.

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