District 9

District 9 [2009]

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Actor: Sharlto Copley

.: Introduction
I was really surprised at the premise of this film when I first learned about it. Relatively inexperienced director. First time actor as the lead role. Aliens come to the planet, but they are relatively retarded and without guidance. It’s set in Johannesburg. I’ll let that sink in for a second. Let me repeat; it’s set in Johannesburg. Did you get that? Sometimes you’ll see a film that picks one of these and manages to achieve critical acclaim and then that’s all that’s being talked about, how the director had next to no experience besides some music videos or how the actor turns out to be the hottest new breakthrough prospect out on the market. This film was pretty ambitious down to its amazing marketing gimmick of putting up anti-alien posters all over major U.S. cities with no further explanation. I’m rambling a bit but I think I’m getting across just how unusual this film is and that if things had gone just a little differently, the delicate promotional equilibrium would’ve been disturbed and we would’ve never been able to see this film. Especially in the era of mega-budgets hardly anyone really wants to take a chance with something out of the left field (out of the far, far, faaaar left field) and hope to see some return on investment.

.: Set up
Aliens have come to earth in a gigantic craft that eventually settles above Johannesburg, South Africa. For long months nothing happens and unrest pressures the South African into action. They contract a private security firm called Multi-National United (MNU), a la KBR and Blackwater, to breach the craft and see what’s going on inside the craft. They do so and it turns out that the aliens inside are actually the “worker” aliens, not too bright, with under-evolved intellects, who are severely malnourished and neglected. There’s no sign of the leadership and the aliens are taken off the ship and put in internment camps on the outskirts of the city.

Years later aliens are given a limited form of citizenship and are treated as degenerates, the symbolic nod to apartheid is unmistakable. Communication with them is difficult and they seem really primal, concerned with few things like procreation and food. Nigerian gangster have taken hold of almost all trade within District 9 as they provide prostitutes and cat-food, which apparently is like a drug to the aliens, who, due to their appearance, are referred to as “prawns.” In return, they will accept almost all alien technology, especially weaponry. Sadly, the alien technology can only be used if the wielder has prawn DNA, so it’s useless to humans, something MNU has been researching from the moment their soldiers breached the craft and found the aliens inside.

.: Wikus
Queue Wikus van de Merwe (Copley), a bureaucrat at MNU, the company who has been charged with the welfare of the prawns but are secretly only interested in their weapon technology. He is the subject of a documentary on the move of the prawns from District 9 to a different camp outside of Johannesburg after growing disapproval of their presence from citizens of the city. The documentarists follow him around as he prepares to head out to District 9 to deliver notices on the move to the prawns. They can’t just move them, since that would be illegal, so they have to deliver notices to each of the inhabitants of District 9. At the same time, they’ll do a sweep for contraband like dangerous alien technology. Wikus seems inept and is disrespected by the mercenary units under the MNU employ for what they consider to be weakness.

While delivering the notices in District 9 he stumbles upon what he thinks is a cache of alien weaponry. He tinkers around with a small device that accidentally discharges and sprays him with a strange black mucus. Because he’s being filmed for the documentary he shrugs it off and tries to get the documentarists to cut that part from the film. They continue with their mission and while not everything goes according to plan, it went well. Later, he starts to feel ill and a strange transformation starts to take place… Oooeerr!

.: Verdict
This film is absolutely awesome and I recommend everyone who likes science fiction films to have a look at it. It’s new, it’s refreshing and the production is superb, especially consider the relative inexperience of the film’s makers. I’m looking forward to seeing where the careers of the director and main actor are going to go. I’m hoping that Copley will pick up the reigns that Christopher Lambert left vacant as his career degenerated into nothingness as the go-to-guy for kind of out there science fiction leads.

Wikus accidentally discharges an alien device.

Leave a Reply