District 9 (2009)

District 9 (2009)
  • Time: 112 min
  • Genre: Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
  • Director: Neill Blomkamp
  • Cast: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, William Allen Young


Aliens land in South Africa and have no way home. Years later after living in a slum and wearing out their welcome the “Non-Humans” are being moved to a new tent city overseen by Multi-National United (MNU). The movie follows an MNU employee tasked with leading the relocation and his relationship with one of the alien leaders.


  • I know “District 9” got very good reviews, but in my opinion this movie is overrated. When I saw that this movie received such good comments, I had high hopes even though I was not impressed by the trailers. I was sorely disappointed. It is totally forgettable as you watch it, you just don’t care. The whole plot is laughable, and a total waste of time and money. Everything about this film was rubbish: direction, writing, acting,… all bad. Only some of the special effects were good, but the way the movie was put together was terrible. I hated the documentary style instead of the normal way movies are presented. If you’re looking for 2-hours of mindless action, then I suppose this movie is for you. However, if you are looking for depth of plot you will not find it here! Clearly, I do not recommend this movie at all…

  • There is much to anticipate in District 9. Produced by Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, 2001-2003; King Kong, 2005) with a shoestring budget of only US$30 million, it is billed as a landmark in science-fiction filmmaking and one of the year’s most original pictures. Under an unusual marketing campaign that relied on internet buzz and ‘No Humans Allowed’ posters, District 9 arrives in Singapore like a quiet stealth ship, without any fanfare, and certainly without much hype.

    Directed by Neill Blomkamp, a South African whose immense talent in special effects has led to sci-fi fans labeling him as the next James Cameron (The Terminator, 1984; Aliens, 1986), District 9 is adapted from his critically-acclaimed short, Alive In Joburg (2005). He expands the film narrative to integrate more elements of action and suspense, but not necessarily tying up loose ends or explaining certain issues of logic. Because the film’s visuals arrest us more than we expect, we tend to ignore such issues and just enjoy the spectacle. And we should.

    District 9 is set in an alternate reality in Johannesburg where aliens called ‘prawns’ live in slum-like conditions apart from humans. The prawns are forced to relocate into another concentration camp-like area far from the city following protests by humans concerned with their increasing acts of violence and crime.

    The film stars unknown actors with Sharlto Copley leading the cast as Wikus Van De Merwe. Wikus is changed both physically and emotionally when during a mission to get the prawns to sign their eviction letters, he accidentally consumes black liquid in a canister. The story unfolds with an air of unpredictability as Wikus realizes that to survive, he has to seek refuge from the very people he is trying to evict.

    Blomkamp directs District 9 in a style of a documentary. The film begins with a series of interviews which sheds light on the crisis. And then follows up with live feed from news broadcast and black-and-white images from security cameras which bring a sense of urgency. Most of the film is shot with fair amounts of shaky camerawork, but they are not as nauseating as anything in Cloverfield (2008).

    The color is often desaturated which adds to the film’s grittiness and unpolished feel. To Blomkamp’s credit, the film is largely expertly-directed and contains several excellent action set-pieces towards the end. And unlike in Michael Bay pictures, viewers know exactly what is happening on screen.

    Blood-thirsty fans will welcome District 9 with a warm embrace. Here, there are scenes of strong violence and gore as humans are shot to pieces and prawns used as experimental subjects. The physical transformation of Wikus is quite frightening, though it is nothing compared to what is shown in The Fly (1986).

    Apart from David Cronenberg’s film, District 9 is also influenced by Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996) and Cameron’s Aliens. The prawns have identifiable and similar human-like features like limbs and a face; though they are strange and at times intimidating, these aliens are a far cry from the brutal, grotesque creatures in Cameron’s film.

    Much is said about the film’s social and political commentary. Echoes of apartheid reverberate in District 9 in which prawns are treated as minority and thus, outcasts, in a system which completely favors humans. Blomkamp does not take sides initially, but later on he tends towards empathizing with the prejudiced.

    The film ends with a thought-provoking (and haunting) image, and the development of the story leaves room for a possible sequel. From a bag of sci-fi clichés, Blomkamp manages to come out with a stunningly original concept. In a decade of sequels and remakes, this is about as unlikely as Terrence Malick reimagining…Spiderman.

    GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)
    More reviews: http://www.filmnomenon2.blogspot.sg/

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