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District 9

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

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Politically Intriguing Yet Chaotic at Best, "District 9" Doesn't Quite Hit its Marks...

  • Aug 16, 2009
  • by
 When District 9 was starting its viral campaign, I thought it was a clever idea, but it didn't get me wild about the film.  When I saw previews for it, I wasn't really wild about those either.  As a matter of fact, this wasn't a movie I was ever wild about seeing.  I mean, I had a touch of interest more because of the Viral stuff than the actual previews, but it wasn't high on my list.  After I left the theater after seeing District 9, I left feeling about the same way I felt before I had seen it, not terribly interested.  Despite the fact that D9 had some interesting concepts, I wasn't overly thrilled by the way in which they were executed.  I didn't end up being a fan of the way director Neill Blomkamp tried to mix two film styles into one movie, it just didn't work for me.

Twenty years ago, a debilitated Alien ship appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa, containing over a million sick and homeless aliens.  After attempts to help the aliens repair their damaged vessel to no avail, not knowing what else to do, the government creates District 9, a slum for the aliens to live in.  Not knowing any better, the aliens fall into habits of weapons sale, inter-species prostitution and gain an addiction for cat food.  A company called MNU (Multi National United) is tasked with overseeing and keeping the aliens at bay, but the public is getting fed up with them.  When MNU is sent to give the aliens, also known as "prawns" due to their fish like look, eviction notices, chaos ensues and the field agent in charge, Wikus Van Der Merwe, is injured and consequently infected with an alien fluid that is slowly changing him into one of them.  After being captured and nearly dissected by MNU, Wikus escapes and  with the help of one of the aliens named Christopher, plans to help the aliens leave the planet and find out exactly what MNU is doing behind closed doors...

The Mothership

What turned me off from District 9 was that it was trying to be too many things at once.  It tried to be a political mocumentary as well as a sci-fi action film and it just didn't work.  For one thing, I feel like if they were truly going to do the documentary format, they should have stuck with it for the whole film.  I also thought they could have done without all the unnecessary gore and violence.  I really didn't need to see all of the finger nails being ripped off or the teeth falling out, just a bit to much.  The way in which the movie was filmed was also just way to chaotic.  Usually, the shaky camera method of filming doesn't bother me all that much, but it was way overdone in District 9.  I think it had the potential to be a really good movie if it had just stuck with the documentary format, dealing with the political issues the so much resemble racism and xenophobia in real life.  Instead, District 9 really just serves as another sci-fi action film.

A Prawn

Without the mindless action and gore (yes some of it was cool, especially the alien weapons), District 9 had a really good story about how everyone in this world is afraid of the unknown and how we treat it.  The documentary format that was used to tell that story was very believable and I really wish it had been used for the whole movie.  I think it was a really intelligent concept to use aliens instead of a known minority, very creative decision.  I also enjoyed the idea that the aliens with little choice, adapted to human society, taking place in illegal activity, bartering with Nigerian gangs and warlords.  Again, these were all such creative ideas, but the film focused so much more on Wikus and the action that these ideas were never focused on to their true potential.


I think District 9 is a movie that should be seen despite anything that was said in this review because despite its shortcomings, it still has moments of brilliance in it.  Minus all the action and gore in the film, D9 had a a lot of potential and a lot of other people seem to really be enjoying it.  I would actually love to see a sequel even though I highly doubt it was receive one.  It just isn't the kind of film that usually gets one.  I think the director want to leave you hanging and leave the rest to your mind.  Overall great concept, but not well executed.  It could have been a whole lot better.  District 9 gets a 2/5!
D9 Poster

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August 27, 2009
Good points you make in your last paragraph and i like the pics in your review :P it was super gory which I did not expect but I'm glad I went. I would not have gone, had I known how gory it was going to be. Also, I must be immune to viral marketing because I saw all the bus benches and signs and stuff but just thought "oh, a movie" and I neither wanted to see it nor didn't want to see it :P And I guess I ended up seeing it somehow. Anyway, I hope there will be a sequel or perhaps a prequel because there is a lot of untapped material in there.
August 20, 2009
Finally saw this one yesterday, man. If you can believe it, I fell asleep about mid-way through it and woke up just in time to see how it ends. My girlfriend couldn't believe I tanked out amidst all the shooting and loud noise. She agrees with you in that the movie had a bit too much gore. I woke up right while a guys head was being blown into bits -- either perfect timing on my part or a sign of ubiquitous violence in the movie. The documentary angle was the strongest part of the movie. Like yourself, I think they should have stuck with that.
August 17, 2009
I'll probably see this movie after the hype dies down and after I forget some of the details in your review and the @Scotman comment! :D Well written and great use of pics!!
August 18, 2009
ha ha...no worries! :D Interesting tidbit - on the website for the movie (www.d-9.com) the hostess on their is a friend of mine.
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 . April 09, 2011
  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) …
Quick Tip by . September 07, 2011
I've seen this movie multiple times now, and still haven't managed to review it yet. It's a brilliant look at racism, segregation, and seeing these topics from the other side.
review by . June 07, 2010
The movie started off slow and directed like it was a documentary.  A mothership of aliens comes to Earth and stays hovered over  South Africa.  A military orginazation (NMU) sends a team of helicopters and moves the aliens to live in District 9, a hovel fillled area.  The aliens are called "prawns" and like to eat catfood.  The aliens also bring very advanced weapons that NMU is very interested in.  Unfortunately only the aliens can fire them because the …
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, …
About the reviewer
Julian Brown ()
Ranked #34
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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About this movie


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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