In 1982 an alien ship stopped over the middle of Johannesburg, South Africa. Nearly three decades later the aliens, which are referred to as ‘prawns’, are being kept in a militarized slum called District 9. The citizens of Johannesburg have had enough with the aliens in their city and MNU has decided to help relocate the aliens to another area, District 10, and Wikus Van De Merwe [Sharlto Copley] has been made lead administrator to hand out all the eviction notices. While out serving these notices Wikus stumbles upon a silver canister and accidentally sprays himself with its contents. This sets a chain reaction of events that is the film District 9.
Neill Blomkamp is a rookie director/filmmaker, his only other credits on his IMDB page previous to this film are a few short films that he made – one of which is the short film that inspired this feature length movie check it out here. I must say I loved his take on this idea. I am not sure if I’ve ever seen a film where the aliens crash land – so to speak – on Earth and passively accept that they are stuck here and allow themselves to be zoned and controlled by humans. In films like this the aliens are always causing havoc, while this film made me think that the aliens were no different than any other zoned race/country that you hear about in the news or whatnot. You could look at how the aliens were treated in this film like how the Jews were treated in the early stages of WWII with them being zoned off and treated like second class citizens at all times. I also loved the way that Blomkamp decided to splice the news/documentary style of showing us this story with the rest of the film. It made me question some of the details I was given as we think about the media manipulation from the government and MNU so as to keep the cruel treatment of the aliens a secret from the general public.
The character of Wikus was just great for me. He goes through so many emotional changes throughout this movie. He begins as a normal employee of MNU who is doing their best to ruin the lives of all of these ‘prawns’. Once we leave the first act of the film Wikus becomes the one that sits between the aliens and the humans. If you can’t be sympathetic for how the aliens are being treated then Wikus gives you a character to sympathize with. The truth of the matter is that many people will attempt to parallel the characters and plot to the apartheid in South Africa especially since Blomkamp is from SA and it can definitely be seen as Blomkamp casting aliens from outer space to be the oppressed and South Africans being the ones spitting down on the aliens. But most importantly it does it well.
The truth of the matter is for me to tell you how awesome this movie is I would have to reveal certain details about the plot but suffice to say, this movie is the most original and intelligent film I’ve seen all year and right now this is my #1 movie of 2009. Blomkamp definitely has a message for us all to see in the film and sells it to the studios with an action filled third act that everyone will love. Even though I’m sure there a couple details that some people would like explained that aren’t, like how the aliens understand humans and how the humans understand the aliens, but most of them can just be assumed and the movie will wow you by the time the credits roll anyways.
IMDB says 9.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes says 88%
I say 9.5/10