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District 9

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

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Clever, subtle, and complex

  • May 23, 2010
Rating:
+5
'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, South Africa. The aliens within, numbering over one million, had to be rescued and brought to Earth, kept in a separate zone of the city (where the film gets its name). Their technology was advanced but only usable by the aliens. All this you learn in the first five or ten minutes, and the rest of the story develops from there at a breakneck pace.

The first impressions of characters you meet early on shift and pull back, revealing hidden facets and surprising twists. Initially weak people end up showing surprising strength, and people who seem initially unimportant become very important indeed. Pay attention to the details as you watch 'District 9' - it's well worth it, and almost a necessity to catch the subtle hints of character and depth as they develop. It quickly becomes clear that there is something not quite right in District 9, and whether that is coming from the aliens, the humans, or both is what is revealed, with deliberate and calculated pacing.

Stylistically, 'District 9' is just as impressive. The initial scenes are done in a broadcast news format to bring you up to speed with the story so far, and while the news team goes away relatively early, the style stays the same. The whole movie feels a little like a documentary shot on-location, in the moment, which results in a very genuine feeling overall. The effects are impressive and well-integrated into each scene, so much so that it becomes hard to tell what is effects and what is part of the scene. And after a while you just don't care, because the story grabs you and doesn't let go.

'District 9' is one pleasant surprise after another. Simply put, it's science fiction as it should be - an exciting story, believable characters, and a real personality. It avoids the grandiose and exaggerated and explores its ideas and themes in a very personal way. 'What if this were to happen?' it seems to ask...and the answer is frightening, hopeful, and enlightening all at the same time.

All this in less than two hours? Yeah, I was pretty blown away too.

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February 17, 2011
Yep, this one turns out to be a pleasant surprise indeed!
 
September 28, 2010
I agree totally. This was a terrific movie that managed to work in its social commentary in an exciting and entertaining manner. It's a shame that Hollywood can't figure out how to something like this. Are you listening Roland Emmerich?
 
September 23, 2010
I really liked this one. I am looking forward to District 10, its supposed coming sequel. Thanks!
September 28, 2010
I hadn't heard about a defrinite sequel to this, did you find out something sustentative?
September 28, 2010
There's a sequel planned, but we probably won't be able to see it for a couple years. Here's hoping... http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/10...Unexpected-in-Two-Years
 
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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
Poster
   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) …
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 . 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 …
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Rich Stoehr ()
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I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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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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Details

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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