Home > Movie, Review > Movie Review: District 9 (2009) South Africa

Movie Review: District 9 (2009) South Africa

Alien spaceship over "no humans allowed" poster.Summary:
In this alternate history, 20 years ago an alien spaceship came to a stop over South Africa.  It appears that they broke down over Earth.  They appeared sickly and malnourished, so the South African government set up a shanty town for them just outside of Johannesburg.  Now tensions are increasing between the South Africans and the aliens who they call Prawns.  The government hires a corporation called Multi-National United to come in and forcibly move them 25 kilometers from Johannesburg.  The leader of the project soon discovers the Prawns aren’t exactly what the media has laid them out to be……and neither is Multi-National United.

Review:
I knew as I was watching it that I was going to really like this mockumentary.  Having an alien landing that is neither hostile nor a diplomatic mission from a more advanced species is really creative, as is having the humans hem and haw over what exactly to do with the aliens.  The aliens wind up in no-man’s land, stuck due to red tape and a general lack of consensus.

I also enjoyed that the movie doesn’t establish certain groups as all evil or all good.  There are individuals within the South Africans, the Prawns, and the MNU who are good or evil, just as it actually is in real life.  The main characters are complex, trying to do their best when facing tough decisions.

Now, as for the movie elements, the special effects are amazing.  I kept forgetting that the Prawns were CGI and not actors.  The Prawns’ weapons are exactly what you want out of a scifi film–based on real world weapons, but decidedly more awesome.

There were a few pieces of loose plot that bothered me.  A non-spoiler example is the fact that the Prawns and the humans understand each other, and it’s not explained how that came about or how difficult it might be.  It almost seems as if just anyone can understand the Prawns’ clicking.  Another example is it’s never explained if there are female Prawns or if they are hermaphrodites or what.

A lot of people say that this is about race relations.  I disagree.  While it’s easy to draw out comparisons, I don’t think that’s the main issue in the film.  I think District 9 is more about how groups of people affiliated by nationality interact, and how people do the best they can given the circumstances.

I highly recommend District 9 to scifi and non-scifi lovers alike.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Redbox

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  1. February 2, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Now this film I did manage to catch at the cinema and absolutely loved it. So refreshing and different compared to the never ending torrant of alien/end of the world films that seem to dominate the scifi film industry now. On a less intellectual note I really wanted the baby Prawn how adorable was he?!

    • February 2, 2010 at 9:29 am

      I agree that it was very refreshing.

      But wait, really? You thought the baby Prawn was cute? I found the Prawns almost completely repulsive myself…..lol

  2. February 2, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    It made me think of all the times we discussed the “Other” in a whole lot of English classes. The Prawns were treated like trash for no particular reason, and when the main guy became allies of a sort with Christopher, he (and we) had to realize that they had feelings too even if they didn’t look the same. He couldn’t stick them in another category any more. To me, that was where the racial issues came from.

    I didn’t get how they could understand each other either, especially given the species difference. It was an interesting film though.

    • February 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      Eh, I get the racial analogy, but if that was what struck me when watching the film, I honestly wouldn’t have liked it much at all. I think movies especially have really overdone the “they look different, but aren’t really!” plot device.

      On the other hand, the concept of judging people as individuals rather than as the group they are from really resonates with me. The main guy (funny how none of us remember his name) is actually trying to do good, even though he’s working for a bad corporation. To me if it’s saying anything about us all being the same, it’s that most everyone sucks but there are a few good ones in any group. 😉

  3. EnlightningLinZ
    February 6, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I just finished watching District 9 like 4 minutes ago and I loved it! It was definitely refreshing and in the first 5 minutes I found myself saying “I did not expect that”.

    I forget the main character’s name too…but I loved him…and I also found the little guy cute!

    My husband also thought it was about race relations, he particularly thought that because it was set in South Africa, he thinks it’s about apartheid. Personally I just saw it as a story of how things can escalate and get out of hand. I thought it was a very human story about how our intentions don’t add up to meet our expectations. That’s probably a really simplistic opinion of the movie, but I’m not one for complicated metaphors.

    • February 8, 2010 at 9:44 am

      What you got out of it is almost exactly what I got out of it. I sort of wish it hadn’t been set in South Africa, because I think that led a lot of people to see it only as a story about race instead of a story about humanity.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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