Movie Name: District 9
Studio: WingNut Films
Release Date(s): August 13, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
In 1982, a large spaceship settled over the South Africa city of Johannesburg. On the ship were a race of aliens (nicknamed “the Prawns” because of their appearance), and the Prawns were now stuck on Earth. Malnourished, the Prawns were herded into the slum known as District 9 where they have lived for over twenty years. The city of Johannesburg now wants to demolish District 9 and hires Multinational United (MNU) to serve the Prawns with eviction notices in an effort to move them to District 10. Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) has been appointed by his father-in-law to lead the team into District 9. When Wikus is hit by a chemical in District 9, he begins to change into a Prawn. Now MNU wants Wikus to help unlock the secret of the Prawns genetic weapons, but Wikus’ only chance to get a Prawn named Christopher Johnson back to the mother ship.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, District 9 does a lot with a relatively low budget. The film looks fantastic and the story development is quite good. District 9 coveted a lot of awards and was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Visual Effects.
The film works great when it is in documentary form (especially the first 20 minutes or so). It has a nice realism and is well thought out. The camera work for the whole picture is very guerilla and has a nice gritty realism to it, but the documentary stuff still is the best. It does a nice job setting up a high concept film by showing the Prawns’ relationship to the humans in a fast, yet revealing way.
The Prawns themselves are fantastic. Like Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, the Prawns have a real feel to them. They made them scavengers and were able to stylize them through their accessories. Although, for the most part, they look alike, Christopher Johnson and his son become real characters in the story, and it doesn’t feel like it is just showing off the FX. With the style of photography, even wide shots or shots from the sky, the Prawns are full of detail and carry weight.
There was a lot of criticism for the last half of the movie. It turns into an action/adventure and veers away from the documentary. I don’t know how the story could have been told without doing this so I’m ok with it. The action is good and the story backs it up and justifies it. Yeah, the last fight looks kind of like Transformers, but there needed to be a big blowout (and realistically, there needed to be a way to protect the ship).
District 9 is a good, strong film and I actually would like to see a sequel down the road to finish out the story. If it doesn’t happen that is alright too because it feels complete at the same time. It will be interesting to see if Sharlto Copley comes out of this to star in much more (his first post District 9 outing in A-Team was less than stellar). I am also interested to see where the director goes from this interesting film. Don’t forget the cat food.
[easyazon-block align=”center” asin=”B002SJIO5E” locale=”us”]