District 9 Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 19th, 2009 at 4:17 pm,

Short Version: With its unique story, fantastic visual effects and real-world look, District 9 is sure to be a future Sci-Fi classic.

district 9 reviews District 9 Review
Screen Rant reviews District 9

District 9 is probably not what you’re expecting.

The trailers and clips that you may have seen so far don’t really tell you what the movie is about – and that’s a good thing.

20 years ago, an alien ship appeared over (of all places) the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. That’s a pretty matter of fact statement made within a couple of minutes of the start of District 9, which starts off in documentary fashion, complete with behind the scenes types of shots that wouldn’t appear in the final cut of a documentary film.

District 9 (and the documentary) revolves around the story of Wikus Van De Merwe (played extremely well by Sharlto Copley), a supervisor for mega-corporation MNU (Mutli-National United). When the aliens first arrived, an attempt was made to integrate them into the civilian population despite their radically alien, insect-like appearance. However there were issues between them and the humans including theft, murder and mayhem on a sometimes massive scale. Eventually things came to a head (evident by the numerous “no aliens” signs), segregation was imposed and they were moved into a huge refugee-type camp called – District 9.

While the film was produced by none other than Peter Jackson, director Neill Blomkamp was raised in South Africa until he was 18, and this film is a direct reflection of a similar camp/shantytown called “District 6″ which was used to segregate blacks until apartheid was finally lifted.

At the start of the film the discovery of the aliens is described along with the fact that over their 20 year stay (there was something wrong with their ship and they’ve been unable to leave) their number has grown from one million to 1.8 million. With the clashes with the local population the decision was made to move them all to a new camp over 100 miles away from Johannesburg, and this is one of the focal points of the film. Van De Merwe is put in charge of coordinating the giant migration (which must began with a legal eviction of the “prawns” as they’re derisively called) from their current homes.

MNU is tasked with this project – but another very significant part of the company is weapons manufacture. They want to figure out how to make the alien weapons work, but they are designed to be triggered only by alien DNA. Solving this problem would mean billions of dollars in profit for the company.

The story revolves almost exclusively around Van De Merwe, and it is hinted at very early on in the film that something happens which causes him to be eventually branded a traitor. We’re with him through the entire film and to say he goes through some tribulations and changes is putting it mildly. Watching him evolve as a character as the movie progresses is one of the best things about the film.

This film is a fitting movie for winding down the summer movie season – while it has its share of action and explosions, it also tells a compelling story and wraps it in social commentary (and don’t worry, it’s not remotely “preachy”). It has drama, action, violence, touching moments and even some comedy – but all these aspects seam together smoothly for the most part. Towards the end of the film there is something that will immediately call to mind the robots from Transformers, and considering what’s come before that does seem a little out of place and inserted just for the sake of a big action set-piece.

The documentary approach that opens the film starts out light and a bit funny, and it may throw you off a bit. As the film goes on eventually the obvious documentary approach falls by the wayside and we’re back in standard observer of what’s happening mode, with the sporadic news clip and interview inserted as a kind of narrative.

This movie is rife with tons of little details that all combine to add to the tapestry of the film – Van De Merwe’s clumsy geekyness at the start of the film, his wife reminiscing about him, the misinformation in news reports (that may take you back to Robocop just a little bit), the aliens’ obsession with cat food (of all things!), and it goes on and on.

District 9 is rated R and for good reason: There is a ton of gore and violence, and enough F-bombs that even if you tried you’d lose count. Now neither of those are a bad thing in the film – they both fit into the context perfectly (there’s almost a certain glee that comes with the amount and level of blood spatters that hit the camera lense throughout the film). I’m just letting you know that this is one where you might want to fork out the bucks for a babysitter.

I would dare say that the movie will take you in a direction you didn’t expect and that after you watch it, it may take a while for what you just saw to sink in. Is it perfect? No – there are a few things that I thought were a bit of a plot hole or stretched out time-wise that didn’t make perfect sense, and in the third act it seems to get a bit over-”actiony” just for the sake of it. But if you’re looking for a smart Sci-Fi movie to cleanse your palate of the fluffy Sci-Fi films that have been the hallmark of 2009, District 9 may be just the ticket.

Discuss your non-spoiler thoughts on the film below, or head to our District 9 spoilers page to talk about the film without worrying about ruining for people who haven’t seen it yet.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. LOL! Well…i’m ranting.. sorry :D

  2. tweeb is a chick? Doesn’t matter what she says, I’m impressed that she even saw it. Where the hell did you spend 16.50 to watch it?

  3. @790
    this movie seemed right up your alley with the whole thing about the vast control that false media has over the people and joburg.

  4. Oh come on tweeb. While I agree it’s not as epic as people are making it out to be, it wasn’t BAD. I enjoyed it. Although the main character really annoyed the crap out of me… Sometimes I wish they would just kill him and we can finish the movie with Chris because he was less annoying…

  5. 10-4, Jago.
    MNU, seemed like an offshoot of Blackwater.
    Also from our perspective the hero was made to look like a terrorist in the media…
    Great film !!!!

  6. 16.50 = 2 tickets…

  7. @ Ken J
    the main character reminded me of that guy from ‘the office’..I agree they should have offed him.

    I was expecting so much more from the trailer.

  8. @Ken j:
    “the main character really annoyed the crap out of me…”

    “I wish they would just kill him.”

    MNU is looking for motivated youth like yourself. Drop by sometime.

  9. In real life I wouldn’t have had to hear his whining voice for 2 hours straight like in a movie where the camera is on him all of the time. There is a difference, lol.

  10. I didn’t like the character at first, but then you kind of think about it and he was a “flawed hero”…it was great.

    Did you really expect him to be emphasizing with aliens? Within the context of the movie, not a lot of ppl liked the aliens, especially those in South Africa and those part of MNU.

    I thought it was original and added to the quality and uniqueness of the movie.

    And yes, all my friends said he reminded them of Michael Scott from the office

  11. Well, considering his situation, and Chris being the only individual, human or alien, to even offer to help him, I thought it was pretty childish of him to backstab him like that.

    But when I said annoying, I was mainly talking about his voice, it was like drills drilling into my brain through my ears… lol

  12. I get ya but c’mon, you’re turning into a disgusting creature right before your own eyes and because of that your life is falling apart, your wife leaves you, your father in law is trying to kill you.

    You meet an alien that could make that go away. You find out that he can help you, but you’ll have to wait 3 years because he has his own problems. Desperation follows.

    What would you do.

    All I’m saying it could’ve gone either way and hence did not bother me at all…

    Yes his accent was a little funny, he was goofy and nerdy. I think that was the point. Perfectly cast and that actor pulled off an AMAZING performance.

  13. Uh, I wouldn’t smack him in the head and leave him to die, so waiting 3 years turns into nobody’s going to help me at all and now I’m either going to stay like this or get killed by my father in law.

    Even if he would have made it to the mothership, it’s not like he’ll know what to do anyhow, and I think once that little guy realizes his betrayal, he’ll probably sabotage the machine and kill him, lol.

    It’ll be different if that alien, Chris, intentionally caused that to happen to him, even if he says he can’t help him, there’s no reason to turn hostile toward an individual that hasn’t been hostile to you.

    But I’m not knocking the movie, I’m sure that was the director’s intention, to make him a selfish a-hole until the end, I’m simply saying I found him annoying, is that really so wrong to have that opinion??

  14. Oh, and it’s not his accent, it’s not his nerdiness, it’s the SOUND of his voice, it’s very high pitched and whiny sounding, it was annoying to me, that’s all. If you didn’t find it annoying, great, but I think if I met him in real life I wouldn’t want to talk to him for too long, lol.

  15. No wrong to have an opinion. Just saying hopefully it doesn’t bother people because there’s an argument to be made that’s just as strong on the other side.

    A regular guy in that situation? Like I said, desperation followed. Everything was occurring within a 1 to 2 day period. He didn’t have time to think. He’s not perfect. He’s just an average human being.

  16. Not*

  17. Well, regardless, even if he had made all of the right decisions, I’ll still find his voice extremely annoying… So it’s a pretty moot point…

  18. Wilkus having his reaction with Chris was human frustration. He had lost everything in a matter of hours.

    He later realizes he’s got no choice but to help Christopher. The reason for helping Chris because of altruism or self preservation is the unanswered question that makes for a great multi layered film…

  19. Well put 790

  20. Actually, at first it was for self preservation, toward the end it was more altruistic. They were letting him go, and he was running away like a little b****, but he decides to go back and help Chris. I doubt he expected to survive. It was pretty explained in my opinion, but don’t let me ruin it if the mystery adds to the experience.

  21. I think this a fresh new movie with excellent strorytelling worthy to stand beside sci-fi classics such as: Aliens, 2001 and even Blade Runner. Director Neill Blomkamp did an amazing job with this film and its one of the best if not the best sci-fi movie in the past years.

  22. That’s the rub Ken J, was he going back to save Chris for his possible recovery, or going back because he didn’t care about his fate…?

  23. **SPOILERS**

    It was his conscious tugging at him. He didn’t decide to turn back until he heard them say to just kill him [Chris].

    Oh wait, should this be in the spoiler discussion?? I added the spoiler warning just in case.

  24. Spoilers,,,,,!!!!

    His conscious, or his self preservation Ken J,,, if Chris died he would have no chance at becoming human again no matter what…

  25. **SPOILERS**
    Um… 790, the command ship was crashed and Chris was captured… He didn’t have a chance of becoming human again even if they didn’t kill Chris…

  26. Moment of panic?

    First time he was ever in a freaking awesome mech suit! lol
    Plus, he’s an office nerd, of course he’s going to run at first. He’s no soldier and doesn’t have that kind of combative mentality at all.

  27. LOL, he did run like a bumbling idiot… Man he was so annoying, haha.

  28. Like I said, office nerd who’s never seen action (combat). You can’t blame him for panicking in that situation. It was realistic.

  29. Ken J, says:

    “Um… 790, the command ship was crashed and Chris was captured…”
    Lol, what you mean was Wilcus was shot down… (~Remember~)

    Ken says:
    “He didn’t have a chance of becoming human again even if they didn’t kill Chris.”
    As long as Christopher was alive and his son was on the command ship pulling the strings, they had all the chance they needed !!!