I’d heard good things about District 9, but I still expected something akin to Battle for LA. What I didn’t expect was a documentary style sci-fi film that was more of a commentary on the politics of Johannesburg townships and refugee camps than a film about shooting aliens. Though what was even more surprising was the fact that the first name that appears on the screen was Peter Jackson! How did I no know that?!
The film opens by saying that everyone expected aliens to land in the US, so for them to appear in South Africa took the world by surprise. Though when no aliens appear from the mother ship, humans make their way in and discover aliens in an extreme state of malnutrition and disease. A health station is set up in Johannesburg to help the aliens recover, but over time this area becomes a slum, known as District 9, and has all the usual problems associated with slums. The main human character Wikus (Sharlto Copley) works for MNU (Multi National United – a kind of OCP company) and his role is to convince the Prawns (as the aliens are derogatorily known) to move to a new township.
Sharlto is really good; the wit, attitude and emotion he brings to Wikus is brilliant, as is his accent when he swears. His character arc is very reminiscent of Seth Brundle in the fly, and I feel that there were several nods to that film. I thought that the Prawns looked really good, nothing that fancy or grotesque, but they were very realistic and really looked like they inhabited the township they were in. I think because I was expecting a shooty-aliens style film, I was really amazed by the completely novel take on the genre and really quite complex plot; not to mention the complex dynamic of humans living alongside the aliens including all the people who exploit the township for personal gains.
A very good film; well shot, cool special effects (WETA of course, being a PJ Wingnut production), nice documentary style and a very different take on the alien invasion genre. But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.