Posted on: August 18th, 2009 [REVIEW] District 9
I’m still high from seeing District 9, so at risk of sounding over-dramatic if there is one science fiction film you must see this year, this is it.
The story is inspired and mature – a little over 20 years ago a large, alien spacecraft came to rest above Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortly thereafter, humans forced their way into the ship to find the aliens inside malnourished and frightened. With the ship’s control device missing, the aliens – referred to as “prawns”, reflective of their physical resemblance to the crustaceans – receive sanctuary on Earth. This “sanctuary” however, turns into a militarized slum known as District 9, and the non-humans are forced to live as vermin. The organization that manages District 9, MNU, sets out to relocate over a million of the aliens to a new location away from the human populace, and well, the shit hits the fan.
The first thing you’ll notice about District 9 is that it’s shot almost documentary style. Though the first several scenes are very heavy in this style, the film transitions into a full cinematic story, though the segue is done in an incredibly non-jarring way, maintaining that sense of realism throughout the film’s near two hour run-time. This being his first full-length feature, writer/director Neill Blomkamp has solidified his status as a filmmaker we must keep our eyes on. He truly nailed a film that is not only technically awesome, but a completely emmersive experience. Though the film is sold on riding the realism angle, let’s not forget that this is heavy sci-fi, and even when we see advanced alien weaponry in action, or mech-suits causing havoc, we believe it entirely.
District 9 is smart, relevant and totally inventive of the genre, but has used all the ingredients that were already in the cupboard. Though the CG isn’t revolutionary, it works incredibly well within the story. The film is funny when it needs to be, just as it is violent and thrilling. Blomkamp and co. managed to incorporate wonderful set and character design to work with the environments and the tone of the film. Everything is very gritty and real and the fantastic elements aren’t over-thought. Everything just seemed so damned appropriate. I myself saw quite a bit of The Fly in the film, not only with the design of the aliens giving off a Brundlefly vibe, but there’s an element of metamorphosis throughout the story including one wince-worthy fingernail scene. Whether or not this was intentional, in District 9 the weaving of our world with theirs is perfect.
The film isn’t all aliens and action though; District 9 brings with it an underlying message of harsh reality. The film reflects some of the most brutal social injustice that our world, specifically South Africa, has actually seen. District 9 is so successful at completely humanizing these non-humans and is one of the few sci-fi movies where we, the humans, are not only the bad guys, but we don’t deserve to win. Without getting too serious, I hope that District 9 serves as a spark to make people look into our own history and see that horrors like this took place, and to our fellow man and woman no less. Feels strange saying it after that little heart-felt thought, but kudos to Blomkamp for making a film with this emotional breadth so damned entertaining.
I can’t encourage you enough to check out District 9. Throw away what you think it might be because I can almost guarantee you it’s not that. It’s something better. Sci-fi fan or not, this is a flick that should not go unseen. The more we support exceptionally made and entertaining films like District 9, the more will get made.
So far District 9 has made over $37 million and nabbed the #1 spot. Go in peace to keep the second week numbers up.
4 Responses to “[REVIEW] District 9”
Film-Book dot Com Says:
August 19th, 2009 at 12:47 am
Loved this film. I hoped it would be good, but the film was great, far better than Star Trek (2009).
August 19th, 2009 at 6:07 pm
POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING:
Mech scene at the end is enough for me to say that as far as robots/powered armour movies go that one scene was 110% better than both of the transformers and terminator movies combined! Oh yeah the matrix too. Looking foward to Avatar to see how they do their mechs.
Needs a sequel when the prawns return en-masse to wreak their fiery vengeance on filthy humans. Not sure how they would do it though. Anyword on toys from this film? I want a model of the Mech.
Ben Rankel Says:
August 20th, 2009 at 8:27 am
I’m surprised this film isn’t a video game yet.
Top 10 Films of 2009 « Giant Killer Squid - Film, Comics, News, Reviews and more Says:
December 30th, 2009 at 10:07 am
[...] If there were one film to stand out from all others this year, it’s District 9. Completely original and unique, the film pushes new ground in both special effects and it’s story. District 9 is most definitely the science-fiction champion of the year. Read my original review. [...]