Saturday, 11 September 2010

District 9

Year: 2009
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope and David James
Running Time: 112 minutes
Genre: Science-fiction, action, thriller

Summary: In 1982 a large alien mothership appears in the skies over Johannesburg, South Africa. Inside the ship are a large number of sick aliens. Despite causing a lot of tension with the humans (who derogatarily refer to the aliens as "prawns"), the aliens are housed in an area of the city dubbed "District 9", which is intended to be a temporary refugee camp vut soon turns into a permanent slum. Twenty-eight years later, the private military company Multinational United (MNU) is hired by the Government to forcibly relocate the 1.8 million aliens in District 9 to another camp outside the city. An enthusiastic young MNU employee, Wilkus van der Merwe (Copley) is appointed to lead the relocation with the serving of eviction notices to every alien home. However, while in District 9, Wilkus accidentally sprays himself with a mysterious alien fluid. Shortly afterwards he begins to undergo a bizarre transformation. Hunted by the police and MNU, Wilkus' only hope for survival lies in District 9.

Opinion: This South African film is produced by acclaimed New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson and, despite a fairly modest budget and largely unknown cast, became a fairly sizeable success worldwide. The movie was adpated from Blomlamp's 2005 short film Alive in Joburg, and both the title and premise of the film are inspired by events that occured in District Six, Cape Town during the apartheid era. The movie is filmed in a documentary style with a large use of hand-held cameras, talking-head style interviews and footage apparently taken from television news reports and CCTV cameras. Despite the modest budget, the film features impressive and imaginative special effects, many of which were supplied by Jackson's acclaimed Weta Workshop. The movie has many important themes to do with racism and xenophobia, but it manages to not let the message get in the way of the entertaining action. The cast are impressive, with Copley in particular managing to take a character who initially is pretty unsympathetic and yet make him engaging for the audience. Interestingly, the character becomes increasingly likeable and humane the more his humanity is taken away.
The movie is most interesting it's first half, certainly from a science-fiction point of view, becoming more and more conventional shoot-em-up action-adventure and chases as it goes along. However it is always entertaining and, at it's best, is one of the highlights of recent science-fiction cinema.

The movie contains quite a lot of fairly graphic gore and violence. It also features a lot of strong language throughout.


  1. I've been meaning to watch this for a while now. Interesting review! :)