District 9 review

Dillon Rosenblatt ('11)/Eastside Editorial Assistant

Aliens have finally reached Earth, arriving in a spaceship directly over Johannesburg.  Found inside, starving to death, are the aliens (called prawns) who benefit from a humanitarian desire to relocate them to a location on the ground. The place they live is called District 9.

Here the prawns become not welcomed, but feared, and their camp they call their new home turns into a prison.  Fearing alien attacks, humans demand that the prawns be relocated far from town and a clueless man named Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is placed in charge of this task. The prawns are not eager to move. A private security force, led by van der Merwe, moves in with armored vehicles and flame-throwers, encouraging them to leave at once.

This science-fiction film, directed by newcomer Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, takes the form of a mockumentary about van der Merwe’s relocation campaign, his infection by an alien virus, his own refuge in District 9 and his partnership with the only alien who behaves intelligently and reveals human emotions. This alien, named Christopher Johnson, has a secret workspace where he prepares to return to the mother ship and help his people, including his son, return safely.

Later on in the film, van der Merwe discovers alien weaponry, which can only be used by aliens, targeting a new assignment: figuring out how to use them against the aliens. Things end up going van der Merwe’s firm’s way as that infection starts to spread, leading to him developing a lobster-looking hand (as that of the alien). Unfortunately for van der Merwe, these are not all the transformations he is going through. He loses all his teeth, picks off all his fingernails and throws up a blue liquid. As van der Merwe goes through these transformations, his boss and father-in-law, Piet Smit (Louis Minnaar), wants to use him as a test-subject to kill the aliens because he is the only human being able to operate the weaponry.

What Neill Blomkamp somehow does is make Christopher Johnson and his son, Little CJ, sympathetic despite their appearances. This is achieved by giving them, but no other aliens, human body language, and little CJ even gets tearful, like E.T did in Spielberg’s film.

A lot of fans seem to be disappointed in the third act, where there is a gigantic shoot-out and no attempt is made to resolve the situation, but the action in the film is what gives it that difference maker that all of the other nine Oscar-nominated movies lack. Blomkamp combines the ability of “prawns” to show human emotion, the transformation of van der Merwe into that of an alien and the superbly done action sequences in the film into a Best Picture nod that brings along three more nominations in arguably the best movie of firsts.

First acting role for Sharlto Copley, the directorial debut for Neill Blomkamp and the entire supporting casts’ first movie. District 9 grossed 115 million dollars domestically, putting it in fifth place among Best Picture nominations.

Do you agree with the writer in that East should replace its artificial sweeteners for raw sugar?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...