Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Movie Review: District 9

Aliens have been the source of many films since the fifties. Over the years, alien films have gotten far more sophisticated and less corny. District 9 is a perfect example of an alien film steeped in realism.

District 9 is the story of an alien race, referred to as Prawns, who twenty years agohad their ship break down over Johannesberg, South Africa. The Prawns were feared by humans and forced into slums called District 9. The story follows Wikas, an agent for MNU, the corporation who controls the Prawns. Wikas accidentally gets infected with Prawn technology, and after many odd outbursts, slowly begins to transform into an alien himself.

It is safe to say that District 9 is a fairly bizzare film, but in the best sense. It is odd at times, but that is mainly because there has never been anything quite like this before.  Originality is bursting from the seams. The story is a superb allegory towards racism, the way in which the humans treat the Prawns is heartwrenching to watch, at times even disturbing as military soldiers hold guns to alien's heads. Very often when a film includes such themes and moralistic messages, many skip out upon viewing it, but District 9 manages to lace these themes within the package of a sci-fi action/thriller and it works beautifully to reach a wider audience.

The film was directed by first time director, Neil Blomkamp. Blomkamp has done a superb job here, evoking sympathy from his audience for these not too attractive alien creatures, in particular the father and son Prawns, who are probably the most prominent aliens in the film. Blomkamp has done the film in a pseudo-documentary style. It switches back-and-forth between a propulsive narrative, like your normal film, and between the faux documentary aspect, making the film and its world feel very rich and alive, while still getting a certain layer of depth to the characters. Of course the standout aspect of the film is its visual effects. I sat there wondering how this film was made for $30 million. The CGI is spectacular, being some of the finest I've seen this year and definitely worthy of Oscar contention in the visual effects category.

Overall, there isn't much bad to say about District 9. It's a deep, philosophical film that also has tons of action to boot, though due to the disturbing nature of certain scenes and the fact that this film is so different than anything you've probably ever seen, many filmgoers will probably not appreciate this film. Even still, District 9 is a terrific film, well worth a look for any diehard fan of science fiction.

I give District 9 a 9 out of 10!

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