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District 9

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

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District 9, Where Prawns Will Eat You For Dinner

  • Dec 28, 2009
  • by
Pros: Good storyline, realistic execution, a nice change

Cons: A few weird holes, you may find the main character difficult to like

The Bottom Line: HAH! For once America isn't the bad guy screwing everything up! Fantastic, I'm down with this.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

When I first saw the trailer for this, I thought it was going to be a weird funny parody-like movie.  I think they realized their mistake because those trailers soon disappeared and were replaced by new ones that showed that this movie was actually serious.  Geez, do these people not screen their trailers before sending them out or something?  (*coughIngloriousBasterdscough*)

Twenty years ago, a massive spaceship appeared over Johannesburg in South Africa.  The aliens did not attack, nor did they ask to see our leaders.  Instead we found them, huddled in their spaceship in relatively bad shape.  While we didn't know why they were here, the people of the area tried to accommodate them, but there were over a million, and soon the whole area outside of Johannesburg became an alien - or "prawn" as they were derogatorily called due to their appearance - slum.

Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is pretty much just a desk jockey.  Then he is appointed to head the project that will move all the prawns from their current residences to a new location since the residents of Johannesburg want them out of the area for good.  But during their visits - though more like raids - Wikus touches a cylinder that sprays him with a strange substance, a substance that begins a transformation he cannot stop.  And while we can't use the alien weaponry we found, it's quickly discovered that Wikus can.  With the help of a prawn named Christopher, Wikus hopes to regain his dissolving humanity and maybe even help get the aliens back home.

Whoo!  A big summary from me.  Kind of odd.  Either way, it's a pretty solid movie.  But it's not just a straight action, science fiction, excitement movie.  It's delivered in a kind of mix between documentary, live action, and handheld camera style (think Cloverfield).  It's quite an interesting mix I thought, but it won't appeal to everyone.  You also won't like Wikus for quite some time.  He's almost a complete anti-hero in fact.  You sympathize with his plight, yet he does things that still make you angry and wonder how thick the guy actually is.

You'll also wonder who exactly to sympathize with overall.  Christopher and his son of course because they seem to be the most intelligent prawns in the whole lot.  The rest don't seem to be as smart and do kill people and not always in self defense, yet at the same time they're treated very, very poorly like abused animals, tricked by gangs and their weaponry pilfered by the big MNU company.  Quite a unique situation.

There are some weird plot holes and questions.  We never know why the prawns stopped on Earth in the first place or why they were in such bad shape when they got here.  Another is why they didn't fight back using all their superior technology (and it is) and weaponry or at least show the humans they weren't going to be pushed around.  The suggestion is perhaps these are just workers, but Christopher kind of makes that an awkward point.  Just weird little things that you won't think about later (...except now you've read this, so you probably won't).

Despite all this, it's a good movie because it brings in so many different elements and executes them very well.  There's more than one obstacle to get across, it points out a unique situation in terms of race relations, the special effects are very well done, the acting is impressive, and the soundtrack is top notch.  It's a solid science fiction film with plenty say and plenty to enjoy.

I have to add, and I'm sorry but I just can't help it, that I'm glad that for once the United States isn't the big bad guy in everything.  Or involved at all, for that matter (at least, that we can see).  MNU is not our company, our military isn't policing everything, and in general the US isn't mentioned at all.  Fantastic.  What can I say?  I'm sick and tired of our military being shown as trigger happy brutes and our country being the one screwing everyone over.  Now I don't mean to start a debate.  I'm just glad that for once a movie has left us out.

Good stuff.  Not for everyone, but hey, it's worth a try.

Actual rating: 4.5 stars.



Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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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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Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … 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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