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District 9

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

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So We Are Not Just Mean and Despicable To Ourselves

  • May 22, 2010
  • by
Pros: Somewhat plausible, well acted. 

Cons: Disconnected at times.

The Bottom Line: With District 9 I did experience that same disconnectedness and that’s the point the movie is supposed to leave the audience winded, shaken and thinking about our supposed humanity.

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

District 9 (2009)
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp, Peter Robert Gerber, Simon Hansen
Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Principles: Sharlto Coplry, David James, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt
Running Time: 112 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction, Drama
MPAA Rating: “R” for strong language, graphic violence

I like the science fiction genre.  I find wonder in outer space, fascination in the prospect of finding life among the stars.  But what if life came from outer space and you know, hung around Earth for a while and interacted with humans?  And what if said life was housed in a concentration camp?  And said life had an affinity for cat food, rubber, and violence?  And said life was intelligent enough to master intergalactic travel yet savage enough to eat raw human flesh?  Such is the premise of District 9 (2009).


District 9 opens over the clear blue sky of Johannesburg, South Africa as several people narrate the story of how the alien creature referred to as “prawns,” came to the planet and get stranded here. For months nothing is heard from the hovering ship and finally the powers to be cut into the ship and find up to 1 million “prawns” starving and feeding off one another and evacuate them to the surface and fence them off in an area called District 9.

The protagonist in the violent and bloody little tale is one Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) a mid-level manager who works for the Multi National United (MNU) who has been given the unforgivable task of clearing out District 9 and relocating the extraterrestrials to a newer district with tents.

District 9 has become a cesspool wherein the visiting aliens live off each other and human cast-off’s.  Nigerian gangs have been allowed to move in and prey off the aliens running black market prostitution and collecting for themselves alien bio-weaponry that can only be fired by the extraterrestrials.  So the Nigerians have introduced voodoo and mysticism forwarding the premise that eating Prawn flesh will allow access to the weapons.

While searching one house Wikus Van De Merwe happens upon a black vile which he stupidly opens and it splashes a black liquid into this face.  And over the next 72 hours he changes as the alien DNA supplants his own and he slowly “turns” into a prawn left hand first.
Meanwhile Wikus Van De Merwe’s wife Tania Van De Merwe (Vanessa Haywood) is the traumatized wife.

My Thoughts

District 9 is certainly a different kind of SciFi movie, one that ultimately leaves a multitude of questions in is bloody wake.  Chief among these is why the extraterrestrials came to Earth in the first place?  Were they bent on conquest and something happen?   The movie hints that they ran out of fuel, but they demonstrated the ability to make more, so…Second question: with no fuel to run the ship, how was it able to hover above Johannesburg?  Third question: why were these seemingly advanced species content to stay within the confines of District 9.  With their advanced weaponry and obvious intellect, they could have easily have taken over the city, so…

Questions aside, I did enjoy District 9.  Sharlto Copley did a stellar job portraying the naïve bureaucrat who while showing an admirable understanding of the aliens, even speaking their language, but nonetheless demonstrated little respect for them.

As he begins morphing into one of the prawns, and is discovered by the evil heads of MUN, who seek to dissect him (for their own greedy desires of course), Wikus Van De Merwe has to go on the run eventually ending up in District 9.  His transformation from clueless desk-jockey to battle-hardened half human is intriguing to watch because he does such a great job.

The metaphors this movie introduces are so obvious I need not point them out, sufficed to say District 9 pulls no punches when it comes to the portrayal of naked racism and violence directed toward our extraterrestrials visitors.  And did I mention exploitation?

By the end of most science fiction movies I feel largely disconnected from the story, probably because the action takes place in a land far, far away.   With District 9 I did experience that same disconnectedness and that’s the point the movie is supposed to leave the audience winded, shaken and thinking about our supposed humanity.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
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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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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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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