Wait-a-minute, those are my notes from the 1988 movie Alien Nation. This review is about the new film released by Peter Jackson: District 9.
Thirty years ago, an alien spaceship arrived on Earth. These aliens were not invaders, but rather malnourished shrimp-like creatures. They are forced to relocate to earth and live in slums in South Africa. Well, you get the idea.
The thing that makes District 9 fascinating is the combination of guerrilla style photography (think Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield—but not as shaky) with cutting edge CGI. The aliens are amazingly realistic and lifelike, which makes the film more brutally disturbing. This is not a standard sci-fi/action summer flick. Instead, Neill Blomkamp tells the story of immigration, persecution and prejudice. And while the victims in this movie are the alien "prawns", the extra terrestrials could be merely stand-ins for any number of oppressed groups. Amazingly, almost all of the squalid alien huts in District 9 were preexisting shacks in Johannesburg, which were being vacated to allow the residents move into better government housing (similarly, many of the mutilated animal carcasses in the background were real).
I am going to avoid discussing the specific plot points of the movie since the surprises are part of what makes this enjoyable. In short, thirty years ago, an alien ship filled with refugees appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. The creatures were sent up in District 9, a refugee camp, as the UN argued over what to do with them. At the beginning of the film, Wikus van der Merwe (played expertly by Sharlto Copley) is put in charge of an operation by Multi-National United (MNU), the world's leading weapon's manufacturer, to evict the prawns from their home.Needless to say, something bad happens.
District 9 is a remake of Blomkamp's Alive In Joberg, a fake documentary film about an alien race that is forced to live on Earth after their ship lands. District 9 retains a lot of its documentary roots. And that is my only complaint about this movie. The movie starts strict by only using "reality" eye witness footage, post incident interviews and expert commentary to tell the story. Unfortunately, the director falls out of his fake documentary world whenever necessary to advance the plot. For example, there is a scene early when two aliens are plotting inside a shack where there could not possibly be on camera yet the film still retains its gritty realism.This inconsistency continues throughout the film, and even to the ultimate ending, which would have been much more powerful if kept as a strict documentary.
On the whole, District 9 is a powerful well done sci-fi movie. The film has enough action and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat.But, at its core, District 9 is thought provoking without being preachy. After all, isn't that what great sci-fi is supposed to be.
Seperated at Birth?