Adapted from the 6 minute short film Alive in Joburg, District 9 begins with the appearance of an alien spacecraft hovering over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. The ship lays dormant for years and, eventually, the government begins cutting into the craft. Inside, they find the desperate and wild alien inhabitants. Unwilling to look like xenocidal tyrants, the government offers the aliens “refuge” and herds them into an internment-camp-like slum called District 9.
Crime runs rampant in District 9. The aliens, or “prawns”, either do not understand or do not care for human social conventions or laws and human gangs move in to prey on the prawns via cat food, which the prawns can become addicted to, and weapons because the government does not concern themselves with regulating the area.
Due to the rising tensions between the prawns and the humans, the government decides to relocate the prawns to another facility outside of the city. Wikus van de Merwe, a pencil pusher from Multinational United (who is in charge of District 9) is assigned the duty of eviction and it is his responsibility to accompany military personnel as they search prawn homes for dangerous articles and weapons. During this course, he is sprayed in the face with an unknown black liquid and his body starts changing horrifically. Unwilling to be a lab experiments, Wikus escapes to District 9 in the desperate hope that he can fix himself.
While this movie was much anticipated for the greater part of 2009, the trailers failed to outline exactly what this movie was about. Because of this, I had no interest in paying the money to see it in the theaters. However, my brother did spend the money to see it and suggested it to me when I was looking for a movie to watch.
To be honest, this movie was a lot better than I thought it would be. The partial documentary style editing brought a hard sense of realism to the movie. The film had no qualms about showing the ugly sides of humanity and, I believe, showed a true xenophobic reaction by the human beings. This movie demonstrated some clever social commentary on events taken place during the apartheid that, to the casual viewer, would be completely masked by a well-written story of the struggle for acceptance.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I enjoyed this movie because I don’t think that this is a movie to be enjoyed, but this movie did make me think. The story was good, the editing and effects were even better, and I think it did what it set out to do.
Recommendations for this one are a bit difficult. This is definitely not a movie for children and the people that I know who have watched it were all fans of dystopian science fiction, but I do believe that people who aren’t normally fans of sci-fi should see this. However, if you are squeamish, you may want to skip this one. The changes that Wikus goes through are very graphic and can turn folks off of this movie very quickly.