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District 9

A 2009 science fiction / action film directed by Neill Blomkamp.

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Blomkamp makes his directorial debut, and certainly impresses as well

  • Apr 9, 2011
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District 9 begins when a very large star ship lands in South Africa during 1982. These are aliens called "the prawns" and are initially welcomed by the human race. Now, twenty-eight years after this, the aliens are stuck and mistreated in a beat up, worthless camp called District 9. The Multi-National United, otherwise known as MNU, cares very little for the alien race, but has strong interest in their advanced weapons. An MNU field operative, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) has the job of moving of one million of the aliens to a new camp that will be named District 10. Wikus meets an alien named Christopher, where a black fluid is accidentaly squirted into Wikus' face. His DNA begins to change to that of a prawn's, and Wikus can use the advanced weapons that before only aliens could use. This makes the MNU want to do testing on Wikus, to help more humans be able to use the weapons, but Wikus flees and heads to District 9 where a war between humans and the prawns is about to begin.

Neill Blomkamp makes his directorial debut here, and what a mighty impressive one it was. Nowadays it seems that the genre of science fiction has, or at least was dying down to nothing but old memories. But recently, in the past few years, it looks as if it might be making a come back. With Nolan making the excellent Inception, and Duncan Jones with Moon, and the most recent of them all Source Code. It is quite a relief to see new directors like Jones and Blomkamp working on these projects, because the film indstry needs these types of directors to keep the genre going as it used to be. All of the most recent science fiction films I have seen get a thumbs up from me, and hopefully I will enjoy Source Code as well.

I honestly wish I could have given this film a higher rating, as brilliant as it was in some aspects. The story was more creative than most involving aliens, but that was a problem for me. I have a very hard time getting into a film that has aliens, mainly speaking for only today's time in film. District 9 did pull of its story quite nicely, but I would rate that part of the film no higher than a B-. However, I cannot deny how well this was written. I may not be in love with the actual plot, which was surprisingly complicated, but Blomkamp Terri Tatchell sure know how to make a purely entertaining film worth watching more than once. Blomkamp's direction was great, especially for his first time. Not to mention the guy is only 31 years old. And he did a good job of answering the questions that needed to be answered, and leaving the rest up to the imagination. A job well done but Tatchell and Blomkamp.

We also have another big screen debut, but this time with an actor. Sharlto Copley, a name most everyone who loves films is probably already familiar with. Just after this, he played in The A-Team, which i'm sure everyone knows. But he actually gave a pretty special performance here. I very intense one actually. He plays the part with passion, and it truly turned out to be a great piece of work. Obviously, the fame of acting for this particular year all goes to Jeff Bridges for his work in Crazy Heart, and that could make Copley's performance overlooked maybe. But that does not change that he was brilliant, and most anyone should be able to see that. The script was unusally well written here as well. The film was close to perfect, minus the story, that is about all there is to it.

The visual effects, were no doubt technically incredible. Even though what I have seen of Avatar was quite amazing, it would be hard for me to give the Oscar to any film but this. The sound was great, the editing was perfect, the action sequences were so well done my jaw dropped, and just everything visually about District 9 was perfection. For today's time, District 9 has about as fine special effects as you will ever see.

Overall, District 9 is a pleasant surprise of a film. Even with the critical acclaim I did not believe I would like this film so much. As much as I hate to admit it, Blomkamp and Tatchell prove that aliens can be a major part of the plot, and the film still be good. It has been a long time since a movie involving aliens was this good. Maybe even since Close Encounters of the Third Kind. District 9 is well acted, brilliantly directed, and all in all a great film.


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April 10, 2011
I loved this film, excellent review.
April 10, 2011
Thank you, thank you!
April 09, 2011
Great review, Matt! I agree that this movie was a pleasant surprise for me since I'm not known to be the biggest SciFi/Alien flick fan. Thanks for sharing :)
April 09, 2011
Glad we agree. Thanks for reading! :)
More District 9 reviews
review by . April 22, 2011
Okay, I'm a pretty big sci-fi geek. I watch numerous sci-fi shows and I'm a big fan of most sci-fi films. I enjoy watching science fiction be used as a platform that explores deep personal truths about the human condition. Every good sci-fi movie reveals something deep about ourselves, but amongst the good ones, there are terrible sci-fi movies that never should have seen the light of day. I'm normally an easy reviewer and I'll even give a bad sci-fi film some credit every once in …
review by . December 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
District 9 is one of those movies that I bought on DVD (though I soon upgraded to blu-ray) on a whim and wasn't burned by a bad movie. This was one of those times that I wish I watched the movie in theaters, and that when the hype behind a hit movie is largely justified.      STORY      In 1982, a giant alien ship grinds to a halt above Johannesburg, South Africa. The aliens are referred to negatively as “Prawns” for their scavenger-like personalities, …
review by . August 14, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
   Co-produced by Peter Jackson, the acclaimed director of the “Lord of the Rings” and directed by Neil Blomkamp; ‘DISTRICT 9” screams “Cult Classic”. Blomkamp has adapted his short film called “Alive in Joberg” and has crafted a film loosely inspired by the events of District 6 in South Africa. “District 9” collects some familiar pieces of history, science fiction elements, and some cool action in a tale which is mainly a retelling …
review by . August 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Alien mothership...
   The idea of using science fiction and horror stories as a way of discussing taboo or controversial social, political, and religious themes is nothing new. Since the birth of the horror genre, which came into being after the popularity of 18th century gothic romance took off, and since science fiction was first acknowledged as a genre unto itself in the late 19th century, the two have often dealt with issues that were considered to be of the utmost social importance while disguising …
Quick Tip by . June 01, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Despite the movie's less-than-subtle messages about humanity, I found this to be a strong film because of the fact that the characters have decent levels of depth to them, which is one of the main deciding factors for why I like District 9.  In particular, I found Wikus's change in character, physically and in terms of personality, the most interesting.  The cool action scenes and visual aesthetics to the Prawn technology are also helping factors with this.      …
review by . December 30, 2009
One of the greatest science fiction films of all time...
I've seen Sci-Fi films that try and fail miserable to get that emotional reaction from audience by telling a recycled story and a dried up plot. But I'm finally happy to report that there is such a Si-Fi film, and this film is called "District 9."          District 9 tells the story of a lone man, who is infected by an alien biotechnology and him and him alone becomes the only hope for the salvation of the aliens. It's a powerful film that resonates with Science …
review by . May 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
'District 9' is one of those movies that blindsided me - I had heard a little about it before seeing it, but few specifics. I was excited and hopeful, usually signs that I'm about to be disappointed. Not only did the film not disappoint, it went well beyond any expectations I had of it.    In terms of story, it's a film where very little is as it initially seems. You are presented with a deceptively simple scenario - a large alien craft has sort of broken down over Johannesburg, …
review by . August 20, 2009
movie pic
I went into this movie feeling slightly mislead, but in a good way. I'm not sure why, but I thought this was going to be some shallow, action oriented sci-fi movie that's only really enjoyable in theaters. I left feeling like I had seen one of the better sci-fi movies of the past few years. I could tell my friend was disappointed leaving the theater; he's the kind of person who loves terror, destruction and mayhem...yes, he's evil. I, on the other hand, enjoy a certain level of sophistication …
review by . August 17, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I must be honest.  When I first saw previews for District 9 my only thought was that it was remarkable how Transformers 2, GI Joe and District 9 could all look like the same preview.  Yet the more I began to learn about it, the more I realized that unlike the other two, District 9 might actually be a good movie.  A fun movie that could be more than meets the eye.  The previews don't make the film look like much.  Not in my eyes, but then again... the preview …
Quick Tip by . October 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I haven't found the right words to do a full review. But I can say that the story is compelling and the special effects are impressive. It is nauseating in the same way as any David Cronenburg film (Scanners, eXistenz, The Fly, Naked Lunch), so don't watch it on a full stomach.
About the reviewer
Matt Stewart ()
Ranked #66
Basically all anyone would need to know about me is I love movies. I watch movies, review them, and I can always enjoy a good, long talk about the art of film making.
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A provocative science fiction drama,District 9 boasts an original story that gets a little lost in blow-'em-up mayhem. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, District 9 begins as a mock documentary about the imminent eviction of extraterrestrials from a pathetic shantytown (called District 9). The creatures, it turns out, have been on Earth for years, having arrived sickly and starving. Initially received by humans with compassion and care, the aliens are now mired in blighted conditions typical of long-term refugee camps unwanted by a hostile, host society. With the creatures' care contracted out to a for-profit corporation, the shantytown has become a violent slum. The aliens sift through massive piles of junk while their minders secretly research weapons technology that arrived on the visitors' spacecraft.

Against this backdrop is a more personal story about a bureaucrat named Wikus (Sharlto Copley) who is accidentally exposed to a DNA-altering substance. As he begins metamorphosing into one of the creatures, Wikus goes on the run from scientists who want to harvest his evolving, new parts and aliens who see him as a threat. When he pairs up with an extraterrestrial secretly planning an escape from Earth, however, what should be a fascinating relationship story becomes a series of firefights and explosions. Nuance is lost to numbing violence, and the more interesting potential of the film is obscured. Yet, for a while District 9 is a ...

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Director: Neill Blomkamp
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: August 14, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
DVD Release Date: December 22, 2009
Runtime: 112 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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