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District 9

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

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The Best Sci-Fi Movie I Never Saw

  • Aug 22, 2009
  • by
My first confession is that I fell asleep about an hour into this movie. Yes, despite the booming theater sounds of alien guns that were apparently detonating the heads and bodies of humans, I fell asleep. I woke up just in time to see the climatic final battle where additional limbs and heads were severed or incinerated by said weapons. It also gave me a chance to get an idea of what I missed and where the movie was going. District 9 must have been a good movie.

Actually, I'm hearing that it is the best sci-fi movie in quite some time. That might be true. Having seen the intro and outro bookends, I can say that there was plenty of evidence of heart and soul in the director and his invading aliens. There was also the really neat idea of beginning the movie as a documentary of the long awaited arrival of aliens. Neil Bloompkamp (director) was also smart enough to recognize that aliens, should they arrive, would not be as predictable as most tourists and make a sight-seeing stop at such popular destinations as Los Angeles or Manhattan. Instead they turn themselves into instant fodder for National Geographic by landing in Johannesburg, South Africa. The backwards backdrop of blight and poverty gives this flick an immediate leap frog over any other film dealing with the same theme. At the same time, it helps maintain the decidedly earthling preconception that our extraterrestial visitors will be, by virtue of their appearance alone, beings to fear and control. Just like the natives of South Africa.

As stated before, the movie begins as a documentary about a very average looking Wilkus Van Der Merwe who works for an organization that mitigates relations between we humans and the visiting aliens. The aliens are in piss-poor shape at the moment of their arrival and uneasy humanitarian efforts are put in place to give them food, clothe and shelter. The food in question, by the way, is mostly cat food. However, for quasi-socio-political reasons it is decided that the aliens must go and Wilkus is the guy promoted to handing out eviction notices. Seriously.

In writing it sounds facetious. But it actually is a cool idea to project the issues of 2/3 of our world's population -- who are often termed illegal aliens by countries that don't wan them -- onto fictitious aliens. It is especially inventive to take the angle of a documentary. Had the movie stayed with the documentary approach I might have remained awake for the duration of the film. But somewhere, say forty-five minutes, into this one you realize that Bloomkamp has his directorial GPS set for the traditional action movie destination. He just wants to take the road less travelled to get there. Consequently, the documentary format is abandoned en lieu of traditional plot devices that will allow us to see what happens to Wilkus Van Der Merwe -- our person of interest.

Despite having fallen asleep, District 9 is not a bad movie. At least, I don't think it was a bad movie. It's just that the moment it abandoned it's original mockumentary angle, it took on all the evidence of a movie I wouldn't have paid to see. (The whimsical campaign and rumors of this being a "documentary" were why I went to see it in the first place). I won't even say that I was dissapointed. I just wasn't nearly as interested as I thought I would be. There are tons of great movies I've fallen asleep on. Some are even called classics. This just happens to be one of them.

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March 16, 2010
Hahaha... I think I'm beginning to 'know' you ;-) It's a good movie, but as you rightly say so, I wouldn't pay to see it. I watched it on dvd! ;p
September 06, 2009
At least he gives a quasi-legitimate reason for abandoning the documentary form...but that's probably slightly after you fell asleep.
August 27, 2009
well i have to say I can relate to you because I've fallen asleep at 2 James Bond movies, plus a few other action movies. It's like the heavy artillery is so rhythmic it lulls me to sleep. :P And I did like those movies I slept through too!! I would recommend seeing it again though, and hopefully you won't fall asleep during the same parts you slept through this time around.
August 27, 2009
Yeah, a few friends have advised me to see this again. I think I might give it another go. If nothing else it's an excuse to get some of that delicious theater popcorn which I've often enjoyed more than the movies.
August 27, 2009
haha well hm, you should probably eat it quickly because the gore sets in fairly early :P Unless that kind of thing doesn't faze you!
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, …
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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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