District 9 review- the truth is if I had time I can go on and on about how this is the REAL sci-fi movie of 2009. It is a hardcore sci-fi thriller, but even that seems to diminish how great this movie is. It is a masterpiece of epic proportions, but in my opinion the lack of big name actors, the rated R-label, and the gritty realism and setting allowed people to pass on this movie and become ga-ga over Avatar.
District 9 has a premise that totally knocks other Hollywood alien movies right in their jaw. It is similar to Alien Nation, in that the aliens are not conquering invaders or even evil. Because they arrived in South Africa in 1982 their legal status is that of immigrants, and their social status is slightly higher than animals. District 9 is a Warsaw Ghetto of sorts. Go ahead and fast forward 20 years and you have a slum nightmare of epic proportions, especially since the alien culture is considered barbaric.
District 9 holds the mirror up to society about how we discriminate and assign civil rights based on common language and race. The movie is a social allegory, and the Prawns (the negative term used to describe the aliens) are marginalized. You can’t help but sympathize with them even though their appearance looks like a shrimp or cockroach- and that’s the point of the movie. In fact the Prawns are more human than the Nigerian arms dealers in the movie.
The cinematography is not for everyone (although I loved it)- the camera is like The Office and sometimes it flips from documentary to normal. I thought this made everything look realistic; it felt like Blackhawk Down at times. I wasn’t into the lead character Wikus van de Merwe at all, but again that was the point of this intellectual script- we see how Wikus transforms [pun].
As with every alien movie there is a conspiracy theory and this one is centered around the fact that humans can’t use alien weapons without their DNA. The government and corporations team up to genetically engineer the poor Prawns.
The obvious question is which movie was better: Avatar vs District 9. The answer is not clear cut. I think Avatar was the better overall movie for the masses and had some feel good Hollywood moments in it, while District 9 totally targets the sci-fi audience. District 9 is not for everyone- it may feel too realistic and there’s no real comedy, romance, or fantasy elements to it, like Avatar had.
Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time (not adjusted for inflation), is more mainstream. Now for the handful of you who did not like Avatar (such as my friend CCB3), I have a feeling District 9 is what you wanted for a sci-fi epic. It’s a shame it was overshadowed in American theaters and not seen by audiences at the same level as Avatar or previous alien blockbusters like ID4, Starship Troopers, etc. If you thought War of the Worlds was good besides the ending, you should know that District 9 blows WotW out of the planet. There have been many, many attempts at alien movies and most of the time Hollywood dictates what we should expect and the movies are loaded with cliches, jokes, romance, or the military teaming up with scientists, but District 9 is able to stay real- maybe too real for some (but not for me).
District 9 made $203,600,000 worldwide with a $30 million budget, and it has a 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It was up for a few Oscar nominations. I think any true sci-fi fan can appreciate the script, story, plot, and tone; it feels like a multi-layered sci-fi classic novel. It totally kills any alien movie you’ve seen in modern times. One thing- there’s not really a traditional conclusion- it’s more like a cliffhanger a la Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Sign me up for District 10, and this time I hope the South Africans are put in a prison camp.
|Directed by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Produced by||Peter Jackson|
|Written by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Music by||Clinton Shorter|