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Review #102: District 9



3 months after an alien ship appears over Johannesburg, humans decide to try to make contact with whoever or whatever is inside it. What they discover are malnutritioned alien beings, living in squalor.
The Government decide to take the aliens (now dubbed 'Prawns' due to their physical appearance) under their wing and set up an area of the city as a concentration camp.
After a short time, the camp becomes a hell hole of crime and scum and an underground criminal element of humans and aliens starts forming. Within this underground movement is an alien project to build extremely powerful weapons.
Eventually, due to the criminal element becoming out of control and 'racial' prejudices from human citizens of Johannesburg, the Prawns are moved to a new 'District 9' away from the city, in the hope that it will stop the racial tensions and cure the problem of crime.

While inside the original District 9, a Government worker is affected at a Genetic level by a kind of 'biological device', he must enlist the help of the Prawn that built it and the Prawn's son, before his humanity is lost forever. What he discovers in the process though, is another side to the apparent 'alien scum' and also another side to humanity, that he didn't realise existed.


District 9 isn't the usual kind of alien sci-fi movie. It incorporates certain elements of real life and sci-fi mixed together.
The film is a little gem when it comes to story building and giving the viewer a journey of discovery, and it's all blanketed by a very familiar backdrop of racial tension in a third world country.
The main piece of this is the relationship between the humans and the aliens, the prejudices seen are a direct parallel with real life human racial tensions.

The movie as a whole is very cleverly put together.
It starts relatively quiet, with a documentary shooting style of following the human policing of the alien visitors, then goes into the usual movie-screenplay-mode that audiences are accustomed to, and gradually the action gets bigger as the movie progresses.

One thing the movie doesn't do is go all stupid at the end either.
I'm talking about the third act not going all silly explosions and action. It still keeps itself relatively low key and relies heavily on action sequences combined with tension and story, that are similar in tone to Black Hawk Down.
It's still exciting though and very well choreographed.

There's even a little cliffhanger at the end too.

The film also makes well with certain elements of drama too. There's a nice little back-and-forth storyline between the main protagonist and the father-and-son 'Prawns' that are trying to help him. They start out hating and mistrusting one another, but find a common ground and a respect between them.
There's also a small sub-plot between the main trio and the various 'factions' of humans too.


What really makes it's mark though is the CGI used throughout, it's extremely well rendered.
Not just the aliens, but the alien machinery.

As for the aliens themselves... they're very well designed and extremely believable. They're actually that well done you can see the emotions they're portraying.


The acting throughout is top notch.
Sharlto Copley as the main protagonist Wikus van de Merwe is brilliantly panic ridden when he realsises what's happening around him.
The supporting cast from, almost, a bunch of unknowns gives the character driven plot some depth too.


All in all, not everyone's cup of tea and it feels like it's lacking something, I'm not quite sure what though but it's definitely lacking something.
Still though, it's entertaining and is certainly an original and unfamiliar (yet still strangely familiar) take on the 'Aliens On Earth' story. Worth a watch if you like sci-fi alien movies that actually have a plot.
My rating 84%