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The first science fiction masterpiece in years
NonSequiturL13 August 2009
I do not give out ratings of 10 lightly, but here it is - the first film in years that has been deserving of the rating.

Neill Blomkamp brings to screens a fantastic, gritty, realistic piece of science fiction with District 9. Not since Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner", John Carpenter's "The Thing", or James Cameron's "Aliens" have we seen a science fiction film with a vision of this caliber. After viewing District 9, it will be clear to one and all why Peter Jackson put so much faith in Blomkamp and took him under his wing as protégé.

Abandoning the usual settings of Hollywood sci-fi and placing us in the harsh slums of South Africa, we are given an original piece of work which takes risks in the way it tells its story. Not only does it go against the expectations of audiences who have been trained to expect mediocrity from their sci-fi, it goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide us with spectacle as well as something to ponder after we've downed our popcorn.

There is, thankfully, not an overused, overexposed celebrity in sight, and every unknown face in the film gives a solid performance. The aliens themselves, brilliantly realized with top notch CGI even manage to make us feel something, only rivaled by Gollum from "Lord of the Rings".

District 9 has so much to like. It's spectacular, darkly funny, entertaining and thoughtful all at the same time, and it's all done on a meager $30m budget. There is true talent on show here. If only there were more films like this, the world of cinema would be a more interesting place.
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Expect the unexpected
Robert_9013 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Everyone's seen the trailer that kick-started one very fishy-looking viral campaign, interviewing several humans and an alien in quick succession. That marks many people's first exposure to Neill Blomkamp's District 9, and the trailer - which had a decently executed "mockumentary" feel to it, which only served to make its sci-fi content seem even more surprising. This same element of surprise is still present throughout the film proper, and it is quite a cinematic treat.

District 9 takes place in an alternate timeline where, twenty years ago, an alien spaceship came to a halt above the city of Johannesburg. The inhabitants of the ship are unable to operate the ship anymore, so they end up being segregrated to their own slum within the city below. Eventually, the government calls for the eviction of the aliens (nicknamed "prawns" due to their appearance) from the slum. The film's ostensible protagonist is Wikus (Sharlto Copley), who through a series of events too complicated to recount in a synopsis, ends up undergoing some rather dramatic changes and before long he's thrust into the middle of something far too big for him to handle...

The best thing about District 9 is that it always manages to stay fresh and surprising throughout. As the trailers indicate, it starts off as a mockumentary in order to expose the gist of the story. The film gradually crosses over to being a more conventional film, although still filmed with a very documentarian look and interspersed with occasional news footage or interviews. Despite the unexpected change in presentation, you don't really notice because you're so wrapped up in the ingenious premise. Then you're presented with the plight of Wikus, whose story is one I don't really want to expose too much because watching it all unfold was just amazing to watch. He's a perfect example of the Everyman, trying to survive as best he can in the face of everything that the world throws at him over the course of the film. His development, along with that Chris, the prawn he befriends (who is surprisingly well-rounded for a CGI character) raises this above your average science-fiction film. Even when the film's final third act becomes incredibly action-packed, it still doesn't jar with the mood of the film and doesn't forsake its characters and intelligence for the sake of cheap action sequences.

On that subject, the action sequences are far from "cheap". Given that Blomkamp and collaborator Peter Jackson were originally aiming to make a film adaptation of Halo before changing to this, there's still plenty of moments that feel quite reminiscent of Bungie's game, from the alien technology to the frantic battles. The effects work looks great in even the simplest of situations, to say nothing of the bombastic finale. There's just something about the way it all comes together, especially when it is combined with one very uncompromising storyline and subject.

District 9 is a rare find nowadays. It doesn't sacrifice the intelligence or raw power that its story affords it for the sake of appeasing your "typical" blockbuster crowd with a lighter rating and less focus on the story. It's a damned fine thriller that is not without its flaws, but is still several cuts above your average summer film and is well worth watching - but only if you can handle the heat. And it does get quite hot.
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District 9 - Not your typical Sci-Fi Action Thriller
Billy_Costigan16 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
District 9 is a story about aliens who make contact with Earth and the relationships with humans and society. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa's District 9. Control over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-National United (MNU), a private company uninterested in the aliens' welfare. Their sole interest, alien technology and weapons. Weapon research would mean huge profits for the company. Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is placed in charge of the filed operation to evict, remove, and place the aliens in a new holding facility. Conflict and tension threaten the operation as agents move in.

Don't be fooled. This isn't your typical alien sci-fi action movie. What got me was the believability. If there were aliens out there that were able to make contact with Earth, it seems it could have gone something like this. The way the perspective switches from mock documentary style to standard third person certainly contributes to it. "Real" news footage and interviewers tell the story in retrospect, as the events of the movie have already occurred when they are being interviewed. I think it all added to the realism of the experience.

Usually in these type of films, it's mostly mindless action and the story is lost. Not the case here. There's so much more to it. It's also about betrayal, loyalty, trust, relationships, and sacrifice. It can actually be pretty deep and thought provoking with many themes floating around. The film's really about the story which is really a fresh, gritty, original concept, which is good to see nowadays.

While the creatures can be most readily described as monsters, though they are like us. Family and friendship are still important ideals in their world. The film explores a fine line between human emotions and monsters. With all the selfishness, hatred, and greed within us, maybe we are the real monsters or at least that's how it can be perceived.

Neill Blomkamp does a tremendous job with the direction and realism of the film. Sharlto Copley blew me away. I was shocked to see this was his first acting role. The action sequences were well done as well. District 9 is a very unique sci-fi film, one that shouldn't be missed. Mind you, this isn't a film for everyone. It's violent, and many parts can be cringe worthy. Be warned but be ready for one of the best films of the year thus far.
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Not what I expected
tomcraft00010 August 2009
I attended a promotional screening for this with a pretty good attitude towards all the hype that surrounded it. It was not what I expected, it was much better.

Not only were the CGI top notch, but the narrative is driven through a believable plot. Watching this film made me believe that a situation as such had occurred on Earth, and therefore the far fetched notion of an extra terrestrial race visiting us becomes so close to a reality through a story that is so realistically depicted.

District 9 is a beautifully crafted film which shows signs of great promise for being around for a while, a subject talked about by many people. Can't wait to watch this again with my friends = )
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This should not be missed!
dark_fibre10 August 2009
Just got home from a preview of District 9. We had seen the previews and were intrigued to see just what the film would be like.

The film style was very much documentary like with lots of sound byte style comments settings the scenes and giving commentary all through the film. These in my opinion took it from being what could have been just another "aliens vs humans" film and elevated into the realms of social commentary. The aliens are presented almost as animals yet you rapidly start to sympathize with them and tune into their desperation.

If it wasn't for the alien space ship in the background and the poor being alien in every sense, you would think this was a movie about any slum and the people who prey on the inhabitants.

Like other films which cover the worst that humans can do, there is a brutal violence present and the directory has not shied away from depicting it. This is not a film you want to watch after a big meal. Just ask my girlfriend. She thought she would have to leave half way through.

In all, this is a film we worth every cent to see. Right up until the end you are never sure what's going to happen next. The characters are believable and the style of the film just adds to it. This could have happened, and in fact may happen.

For a first effort, Neill Blomkamp has created one of the best SciFi for a while, his future work will be well worth paying attention to.
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Darkslide9213 August 2009
I caught an early screening of this movie last night. I went into it with high expectations considering the high ratings it has been getting already. My expectations were not high enough however because this film exceeded my them in every way possible.

I will not go far into detail because I would prefer to not spoil anything. This is unlike any sci-fi we have seen in years. Forget Terminator 3 and 4, forget the AVP movies, forget all those laughable sci-fi movies, this film is what we have been waiting for. An original idea, an original concept, brilliantly executed, great CGI, good acting, it just has it all. We have seen many aliens come to earth movies, but this is different, I will not say why though. That is for you to find out when you see it, which I HIGHLY recommend you do.

This movie, quality-wise, matches up with the popular Sci-Fi films we love. The original Alien, the original Predator, The Matrix, Star Wars, etc. While I enjoyed those ones more because they are classics, this one clearly meets the standards we expect today when it comes to quality. A big driving force behind this, in my opinion, is the fact that high esteemed Peter Jackson is behind this project as the producer. After seeing his masterful Lord of the Rings saga, anyone can see that he knows what he is doing.

As far as movies for this year, this is definitely top 5 so far on my list (Up, Star Trek, 500 Days of Summer, HP6, and District 9). Thank you Jackson and Hollywood for finally producing the best Sci-Fi in years. If this movie does not make its way to IMDb top 250 then I will be in awe.

See this movie!
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Excellent no-nonsense sci-fi actioner...
dvc515913 August 2009
Going into the cinema I had mixed expectations as I only saw a handful (yet interesting) posters and only one trailer. I only heard a handful of reviews yet all of them came from this site. Well, I decided to hedge my bets and walk in anyway. And I'm glad I did.

"District 9" is a wallop of a film that is also one of the year's very best films. It perfectly presents the balance of human emotions and CGI mastery. The acting is top notch and believable, and the characters are so realistically presented; even the protagonist is deeply flawed, and during some scenes I wonder who should I root for.

The story is well told; a refreshing, unique and somewhat original scenario, one that we've never experienced for quite some time. The atmosphere is bleak, dark and realistic, actually making me believe this thing can actually happen here on Earth.

The special effects are excellently rendered, and actually give more than their money's worth (Only US$ 30 million! And the effects were amazing, as great as anything WETA has done before!). The creature effects are so realistic we could not tell the difference. Thanks to none other than WETA for this amazing feat, and I hope they get an Oscar for visual effects. But the practical effects are believable too, as per the engaging and thrilling (and also non-stop) action sequences in the film's second half. And boy, those weapons are awesome! Special mention goes out to the fluid editing. Example, first half of the film works like a docu-drama, and the second half becomes a hybrid of Black Hawk Down, and we don't notice the change of pace. It's that brilliant.

Peter Jackson really knows how to pick a good story and director when he sees one. And I want to shake Neill Blommkamp's hand if I meet him. He is certainly a talented director, and one to look out for in the future. (P.S. If that Halo movie is still going on, Blommkamp has proved that he is the man for the job) In short, it's an excellent science fiction action film, but not without it's intelligence. It may have a few flaws and very few clichés (these happen near the end of the film) but it is still very solid nonetheless. If there is a sequel, I'll be first in line to see it.

Overall value: 8.5/10
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It is just THAT good.
thebackofmyhouse13 August 2009
Saying this movie is good would be an understatement. The movie has it all, a very intriguing deep plot, good acting and great action. If I was to find a flaw in this movie, it would be the shaky cam technique employed at the beginning part of the movie and also at the very end. The shaky parts are supposedly documentary clips telling the story of Wikus, the protagonist. But rather than add to the feel of it, the shakiness is just nauseating. They just over did it. But after a while into the movie, they got out of the documentary mode and things couldn't be any better. And the special effects in his movie will have you believing that these aliens are real.

It's better that you go into this movie not knowing the deeper plot as a big part of the movie's entertainment value for me is the parts when things look hopeless and you really feel the despair and hopelessness of the characters. The only thing you need to know going in is that there are aliens stranded on earth and they are put in slums.

This is one of those movies that teases you that it's nearing its end, but inside, you go "No, I want more. It can't end like this", and the movie hears you and gives you more. And it's primed for a great sequel. The potential that this franchise has is just enormous. The way they can expand the story is just limitless and all of them can add to it's lore. This is a classic franchise in the making.
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Worst RomCom ever!
Ryan Clements12 August 2009
I attended a preview screening of District 9 last night, and I am in absolute awe of this film and its director Neill Blomkamp.

Thanksfully, I knew relatively little about the story going into the film. I had a rough idea of the concept and had seen a few TV spots, but thankfully the film delivered so much more than I was led to expect.

What I like most about the film is that it increasingly gains momentum throughout its runtime, starting out as a mockumentary (and thinly veiled social commentary), but then delves into more mainstream thriller territory, before culminating in some thoroughly entertaining action set pieces. If action is your thing, be sure to stick it out through to the latter half of the film. As I was leaving the cinema, I overheard many other patrons saying exactly that... "I wasn't too sure for the first hour, but I'm glad I stayed" (personally, I have never walked out of a film at the cinema).

That is not to say that the first half is any less impressive. I am a big fan of realism in films such as this, and as such, I really enjoyed the documentary feel. I think the intention was for the entire film to be in the mockumentary style, but for me the style changes and takes on a more mainstream look (albeit hand-held)... which I think is important to know going in. There are also a few areas where it couldn't be believed that a documentary crew could still be filming (or even alive). But I think the film is much better for this, and definitely more memorable.

If there is one thing that irks me about this film, its that the story moves at an incredible pace... particularly in the earlier scenes in the film, which feel rather rushed, and seemingly at odds with the realistic documentary feel it was going for. Things just seem to happen so quickly, leaving little time to digest the premise and characters. I would love to see a version of the movie that extends the first half to allow a greater look into the reality presented to us.

SFX-wise, there are no complaints. There is the odd bit of artificial blurring on some alien movement, but overall we are presented with a very low-key, realistic CGI presentation that could teach Hollywood a thing or two.

One other aspect that I must mention is the performance of the lead character. Seeing a film of this caliber that has no recognisable actors, with foreign (to an Aussie!) accents just adds to the authenticity... but Sharlto Copley (in his debut performance) is a revelation and one of the most memorable aspects of the movie.

I cannot recommend this movie enough, and the wait until the weekend so I can see this film again is just too long!
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A South African Futuristic Greek Tragedy
mlambertint11 October 2009
After "District 9" was over, I had to run from the theater to the hotel and take a long, long shower. "District 9" is a first. We've never seen anything quite like it. A metaphor for a world that's becoming faster and faster a huge melting pot where nothing truly melts. The have and the have not. New ghettos, new forms of life and we have to learn to live with it or, or what? Neill Blomkamp, the 30 year old director, is someone who's exploded into the film scene and I'm sure he'll stay for a long time to come. A commercial director with a refined artistic mind. Accessible without being condescending a real find and who found him? Peter Jackson. A man that I suspect is creating a Hollywood overseas, a Hollywood for the thinking man. I urge you to see "District 9" and get used to those aliens, they stand for something that is already here.
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Scraggle Pufffa6 August 2009
I recently attending a promotional screening of District 9. I would like to give my opinion of the film, but not any of the plot or details.

I went into the theater basically only knowing the genre of the film, being exposed just to the minimal "humans only" ads. While I watching the film, I immediately wanted to view it again. It is intriguing and highly entertaining, with a dynamic characters and rich in both humor and action. Once it ended, my friends and I chattered excitedly about the numerous aspects we liked. As cliché as it may be, there are parts of this film that will stay with you.

When it is released, I will be waiting with everyone else to see it again!!!
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Gritty, real, and very entertaining.
JayFX7531 August 2009
I have never been a huge supporter of South African based movies (this one written & directed by Neill Blomkamp) as I tend to find them a bit cheesy, but this movie was definitely the exception to the rule. Initially, the first 5 to 10 minutes were a bit difficult as my Hollywood brainwashed brain, battled to get past the thick "Souf Afrikan" accents and the really gritty & realistic local setting. But my efforts were well rewarded with a fine performance from a truly brilliant cast, and a direction equivalent to even better than what Hollywood can churn out. Neill Blomkamp can a be very, very proud man.

At it's core, I would classify District 9 as a Science Fiction Action/Drama. And without spoiling to much, the movie takes place in a slum in Johannesburg, where a group of aliens (often referred to as prawns!) have been segregated from the rest of the populous after their mother ship breaks down and leaves them stranded on earth. 20 years later the story picks up where Wikus vd Merwe, a field agent for the MSU, is tasked with relocating the aliens to a "better" place - 200km's away from Joburg - where they can live in peace and without fear of conflict, confrontation and intimidation by the rather hostile locals. Thats the basic premise, however there is far more to the story than that and I definitely am not going to spoil it.

Wikus vd Merwe, the main protagonist, was brilliantly played by Sharlto Copely. Really, I was most impressed. His character was rich and complex and was played out with sincerity and passion. However, just when you think you have him all figured out, he goes and says (or does) something that changes your perception of him altogether as he alters his behaviored pattern based on the current situation. This depth in character is not often seen in movies, and came as a welcome surprise. Hats off to Mr. Blomkamp for focusing on this through his filming and writing.

Visually, the movie is a real treat as well. The setting is gritty, grimy & dirty and really showcased slum life realistically. The special effects present was also exceptional but never over used. The first part (or half?) of the movie was done in the style of a documentary, with interviews and news pieces glued together to enable the viewer to catch up on what has transpired, and with some liberal use of the "shaky cam" style. This really adds to the realism but is only prevalent in the first half as the second half tends to settle down on a more stable style of filming.

The movie has a 16 age restriction, and justly so. There is plenty of swearing, and enough gory splats that i found myself going "yuck" on one or two occasions. So you have been warned. But if you can handle this kind of thing, you are in for a treat as it's never really gratuitous, but justified most of the time because of the reality that the movie portrays.

After leaving the movie, I was still chewing over the whole concept which clearly indicates this is not the kind of in-one-ear-out-the-other kind of movie. I wouldn't go as far as to say its a thinking man's science fiction, but it definitely does leave some food for thought. Another great thing is that you don't have to be a Science Fiction fan to enjoy it, as my wife who is more into drama's, thoroughly enjoyed as well (she gave it a 10!).

So does it deserve your money for a ticket? Most definitely yes. Niell Blomkamp hit a home run with this movie, and we need to show our support. Go out and see it as soon as you can. I give it a strong 9.
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District 9 is more subtle than you might think
sarastro713 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
District 9 is a movie to think about. The first (and second) time I watched District 9, I wasn't quite sure what to think. I came at it from the p.o.v. of a science fiction fan, and I thought some of the SF elements were not entirely thought through. But I thought some more about it, and things started to gel.

Movies have been made before that people thought were about racism. I'm thinking of a brilliant film like Pleasantville, which on the face of it seems to be about race, but was much more complex underneath that surface. And I'm thinking of another brilliant 1998 film like Bulworth, where race was used to symbolize rich and poor. District 9, at first, seems not simply to be about race, but about xenophobia generally, and the plight of refugees especially. Penetrating deeper, this appearance however, while effective and admirable, is also deceptive. District 9 is one film that actually IS about racism. This is a South African film. The aliens in it arrived 28 years ago, when the inhuman Apartheid system was still in effect.

So what is this film saying? Get this: It is using aliens to explain to us that there is still effective Apartheid in South Africa today. The aliens symbolize the black South Africans, and how they are still ostracized from much of common/white society and kept in crime-infested and corruption-ridden areas. Having no future and no hope and no voice. That's also why, in the film, the Nigerians are Nigerians - they couldn't be South Africans, because the *aliens* are the South Africans.

The bio-fluid used to power the space-ship represents the life-force and will to live that the black South Africans have lost. In the film, it must be the catastrophic loss of almost all their bio-fluid that led to the big ship's crash in the first place, and to the poor condition of the aliens inside it. The alien technology represents cultural substance; it is a beautiful symbol of all that we have to learn from so-called primitive cultures. If we'll open up to their problems and cultural content, we will all be the richer for it.

Even the documentary form of the first part of the film also makes proper sense in light of this interpretation. The documentary part is supposed to make the audience identify with the whites, whereas when the documentary style of storytelling disappears, the audience is left free to choose a different allegiance. In other words, we start by being shown that *we* are the ones at fault, and then we are given the opportunity to change.

This is a brilliant film. I rate it 10 stars out of 10.
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Very disappointed by both the movie and the other reviewers.
batatas3118 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I am appalled that so many people love this film, with many claiming it to be a masterpiece. It was the rave reviews and the high ratings that influenced my decision to watch this film, but now that I have seen it, I honestly do not see what all the buzz is about. This movie failed to deliver on almost every end. The characters were flat, the filming style was annoying, and the plot was unbelievable with too many holes.


While the action isn't great either, the main problem with the film is that it makes an obvious attempt to appeal to the empathy of the audience and horrible fails at it because of absurdity. The success of this movie relies on whether or not the audience actually cares about the main character, Wikus, but there is no character development. The so called bond between the alien wearing the red clothes and Wikus, is laughable. The movie barely shows them together throughout the film, but for some unapparent reason, we're expected to accept that by the end of the movie they've developed a close bond out of thin air. A bond that they are willing to risk their lives for. "I won't leave you", says the aliens, "I'll come back...I promise". Huh?... What a load of ridiculous crap. Was I supposed to shed a tear at that moment. For those of you who actually felt emotional at that moment, I worry for you. I mean, Wikus was not even a likable guy. The whole time he acted like an asshole and he had an utterly annoying accent. Did the director of this movie expect us to actually care about the guy. I sure as hell didn't. He was a selfish bastard throughout the whole movie, who only cared about himself. The only reason I could come up with for why he protected the alien at the end was that it was his only chance of becoming human again. I can honestly say that I think that he got what he deserved.

The story also contains too many flaws. Gaping flaws that make this movie nearly unwatchable. For this part I'll just ask all the questions that I have. I mean, how is it possible that the aliens got stranded on Earth in the first place and then after 20 some years, the mothership seems to magically work again? Why does alien fuel turn a guy into an alien? Why would the aliens have an antidote for a guy turning into an alien? Why would Wikus only cut off a finger? Why didn't the aliens retaliate with their superior technology? Why would the government allow the aliens to be so loosely controlled? Why do the aliens act like savages even though they are supposed to be an advanced race? Why can't the aliens contact their planet, wouldn't they have the technology? Why are humans allowed to stay in District 9? Why would Wikus's wife actual believe that he performed some sort of sexual activity with an alien? Why is a spaceship buried under ground? Am I missing something?

Yes, I am being a bit too critical, but it's just because people keep saying that this movie is so so great and it bothers me. I have much more to say, but I'll just leave it at this. I give this movie a 4 out of 10.
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james-still6 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I had heard enough about this South African film to know that it was an allegory about the Apartheid period. And I'm a huge fan of intelligent sci-fi. What could go wrong? Everything. Can I have those two hours back? The first 20 minutes was interesting. The lead character is portrayed as a passive-aggressive racist who is a part of the problem, smooths over police violence in front of the press, and fails utterly to comprehend the situation around him. In short, he's marked for death. He's the red-shirted security guy beaming down with Kirk and you just know his minutes are numbered. But when something bad does happen to him the movie's logic goes off the rails and melts into a steaming pile of a cheap Chuck Norris action flick where rifles blaze, grenades explode, and there's no motive to any of it other than just to blow sh*t up for the twelve year old kids in the audience.

Question. If you were making an allegory about Apartheid why would your clueless, selfish, white guy racist jailer be the hero and liberator of the oppressed black people? I should think that in the 21st century old ideas about the White Man's Burden is more than just offensive; it's also a tired cliché. The jailer bureaucrat's only motive seems selfish: he just wants to go back to his old self.

The sadistic villain is like a bad penny. He just keeps showing up in every other scene, fires off about a million rounds without hitting the hapless hero, and doesn't have the horse sense to call in enough backup to handle the escalating violence.

I'm supposed to believe that the Most Wanted Man in the Universe, with his picture all over television, can use his old access codes to break into a maximum security biology weapon lab and run off with alien rocket fuel? The plot holes get bigger and bigger, which is forgivable if the story is reasonable. Yet, the problem here is that there are no likable characters at all in the entire film. Also, the violence is way too gratuitous and serves no purpose.

I can't think of anything good to say other than to save your money and don't waste your time on this one.
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Provocative movie has something for almost everyone
charlytully7 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw an advance screening for DISTRICT 9 with some others from my book club. Half of the 300 people attending were still buzzing about this film-goers' delight when the lights came up after closing credits. Some said its setting in South Africa's Soweto slums reminded them of CITY OF GOD. Others said its mockumentary style was reminiscent of CLOVERFIELD. Someone said it ranks up there with THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951, of course) and ALIEN for sci-fi originality. Another fan said it reminded her of IMPOSTOR "on steroids" (I looked this up, and it's an obscure 2001 flick starring Gary Sinise, in a moral dilemma similar to Wikus' in DISTRICT 9). At any rate, normally I don't award low-budget ($5 million) remakes of shorts with a "10" out of 10 rating, but I found DISTRICT 9 to be enough of an eye-opener to deserve a "10," despite being more flawed than any other top-ranking movie I can think of at the moment. The key to enjoying DISTRICT 9 is to sit back, and not to nit-pick. It may lack the stars and special effects bazillions of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN or STAR TREK: THE FUTURE BEGINS, but DISTRICT 9 will give most people more food for thought than either of those two earlier releases of this summer.
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NOT one of the greatest Sci Fi films ever!!
il_conde18 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is not a negative review of the film. Instead, it is a clarification of why I think those fanboys who rank this movie up there with Blade Runner and Children of Men must have very short memories.

The first half of the movie is basically throwaway. Its this mockumentary that supposedly frames the plight of the prawns into some kind of relevance. But its really just a lot of back story. The movie does nothing more for the morays of apartheid, refugee status, or whatever social commentary its trying to make beyond the assortment of interviews meant to set up the second half of the story. It's just a cute premise that serves as backstory for the "real" movie.

The "real" movie starts the moment Wikus finds the tube of liquid and gets infected. The camera calms down and the "documentary" camera gets replaced by a neutral camera and cinematic action style we're all familiar with. The shift in perspective is disconcerting. What POV are we really seeing? It's like a movie within the movie.

The movie is oddly dispassionate and unemotional. While the CG character animation is top notch, I never cared for the prawns, for the most part they seemed like a bunch of random bugs running away and on a rampage and only the father and son prawns were midly sympathetic. There was no villain I really hated - the MNU mercenaries were just nameless thugs and the head of MNU / the father was never much of a character. I loved no characters either. I liked the choice for Wikus - Sharlto Copley - hes an atypical hero, uncaring, selfish, nerdy bureaucratic type. He's different enough to be interesting but I can't say I rooted much for him or loved the guy - except at the very end of the movie when he has a change of heart and has his orgasmic heroic battle like every good action hero must do. His wife seemed hardly a character at all so his empathy with and from her had little weight.

Lots of stuff made no sense. Why did the prawns give up all their weapons? For cat food? Why didn't they just take what they wanted? Why did the command center drop down from the ship when it was such a pain to get it back up again? It was never clear at what point they were at with some/most/all prawns getting moved to the new concentration camp.

Overall it lacked the thematic unity of great science fiction like "Children of Men" or "2001", movies where I felt deeply involved with the characters. I can't believe some fans and reviews put it in that league.

The mockumentary reminded me of independent and student films like "American Zombies" and others of that genre. But the devolution of the movie into a well done but typical action sci fi flick seems to give the movie a schizo personality, with competing tonalities.

Camera work, while not Cloverfield shaky, was kind of wonkishly bad video shaky and can make you sick (as it did my date).

I was mildy entertained by the film, but my review is in response to the surprising laudations given to it by the reviewers and fans. I wonder who wrote those and why?? Possibly one of the most audacious SciFi films of the summer, but it lacks the thought and conviction for it to be anything more.
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Really Kinda Ridiculous
Joe X.8 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I can think of worse sci-fi movies to spend 2 hours on, but this movie is really quite absurd.

I can suspend disbelief for damn near anything, but the plot has to make some sense. Why were the aliens so easy to herd into the camp? How'd they get their weapons back? And once they did, why did they not dish out some head-and-chest-exploding destruction on their enemies? Oh that's right, they traded them for cat food.

And how many times did a bad guy have his gun trained on one of our heroes and then proceed to explain in lengthy detail how much they were going to enjoy killing them only to be foiled at the last second because of their ridiculous verbosity? At least four.

And in the scene at the end, when the half human tells his prawn buddy to save himself. After the requisite "No, you go save yourself" line, how about a little cover fire there, pal? Just standing there sorta takes away from the whole sacrifice angle, see? You have a freakin' transformer suit that fires rockets. Don't just watch idly while prawnny makes the run with his corrugated tin shield getting peppered with machine gun fire. He makes it anyway, of course.

I could go on, but, well you know.

The little alien kid was cute, though.

4/10 - but 1 star here to try and tamp that 8.4 down (I mean come on, people. It's embarrassing.)
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Extraordinary Surprise
pontram19 September 2009
I have to say in advance, that I didn't hear anything about this movie, there was no hype for me, I'm simply interested in good SciFi. D9 is in a way a SciFi Slumdog Millionaire; if you allow yourself being caught you are totally in. Some months ago I hated Cloverfield for making my head aching and boring me. I hated Star Trek for disappointing me with being more childish (and thereby being so seriously) than Star Wars. Now I love District 9 for surprising me with a good idea and a subversive view. SciFi is rare, because it's expensive. Good SciFi is one of the rarest things, because the massive amounts of money spent must flow back to the investors with profit, and they think, that only mainstream and infantile movies work in that way. D9 was cheap, compared to other top movies of the genre, and so the producer had not many risks to bear.

So the author had the opportunity to use his plot to show us some of the uglier sides of us, by unmasking common accepted behavior, preoccupation, condemnation and greed as essential (and damnable) parts of our daily life.

There is one key scene (for me) where Witus, the main character, describes how Alien fetuses are destroyed resp. burned with flamethrowers and make noises like popcorn during this process. It is obvious that those people don't think that the "Shrimps" are worthy beings, despite - or because - they live with them since more than two decades. In this moment you see how easy it is to treat somebody as sub-human.

Another key scene is at the beginning, when they learn that the Aliens are poor and weak (and dumb) beings. After the first amazement there is no benefit from the encounter, no wonders are coming from them, they simply have to be fed. They are a burden and primarily useless. So there is no need to try to understand and treat them in an appropriate way ?

But i don't want to over-interpret this movie. It's definitively not only for "intelligent people", but for people who are bored from predictable US mainstream SciFi.

And yes, D9 is political incorrect. The Nigerians are shown like real Idiots who actually think, eating Aliens could make them mighty and powerful, even after this didn't work during the past 20 years. They are villains, cat food dealers like drug dealers, there is no positive aspect in their appearance. It's a cliché, and maybe the author worked up some personal reluctance. But the story needed a color equation for the badness of all those white guys.

I admit that the part which is critical of society is not the real main part of the movie. The movie wants to suggest that, but the main part is the action shootout in the MNU center and the slums. Although this is a bit too long and too tension (= box office) oriented, it intensifies the impression of the rest of the movie.

I for myself rated back from 10 to 9 because of the 90% happy end, according to my mom who always said "good movie, bad ending" ;-)
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Exceptional Film Making
red_jacket070717 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Very rarely do I come out of the cinema so animated about what I have just seen.

This film was, quite simply put, outstanding.

The documentary style at the beginning really draws you into the plot. It's great to see aliens choosing somewhere else in the world other than New York or LA as well, and this really still felt like a South African film, as opposed to a Hollywood film on location in South Africa.

if budgets are to be believed, they have put $30m to extremely good use. Perhaps saving money by not hiring famous actors. no matter. all the cast were exceptional anyway.

The interaction between live action and CGI was seamless. Fantastically done.

The whole sociology behind the film was very intelligent, the way that humans would perhaps treat this situation, and a clear critique on apartheid itself. It wasn't rammed down your throat though, and it didn't take away from the actual story.

However, it seems to have split a lot of people down the middle. I don't know what some of my friends were expecting, but some of them absolutely HATED it.

perhaps this is because of the following reasons:

1. Some people are annoyed by the main actor in the film, especially his voice (and specifically the way he says the "F" word). 2. I've heard some complain about the stupidity of aliens becoming addicted to cat food. 3. The ending (which i won't say)

I actually thought the main guy was totally believable. You went from liking him to hating him to liking him constantly through the film, and this was down to his acting. He was able to provoke very emotive thoughts out of situations which is a great skill. I understand he's not an actor by trade as well. The cat food thing - why not? alien bodies, who's to say the way it would make them react. it's usually full of rubbish anyway so it very well might. they might feed their pets crack cocaine on their planet. have some suspension of disbelief for crying out loud. it's an alien film. And I loved the ending. I won't spoil it though.

District 10 anyone?????
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Typically absurd
ewarn-18 December 2009
This film can be used as a primer on how to produce typically bad contemporary movies.

First, take a script from an old TV show (in this case, episodes from The Outer Limits) and fancy it up a little to fill out 2 hours. Next, add a few million dollars of state of the art special effects. Film much of the story using a hand-held camera, and be sure to bounce and jerk it around so everything gets really confusing. Lastly, produce an interesting trailer that misleads audiences into thinking this might be a half way intelligent film.

This is a typically absurd modern movie, just as bad as all the rest that have been produced for the short attention set. Any attempt at a meaningful story degenerates into explosions, robots, and machine gun fire. An absolute waste of time.
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The movie box office is manipulated through reviews
sandeep_c_us16 August 2009
I saw that the movie was placed in the TOP 250 movies with an outstanding rating of 9/10 and hence I went to the movie immediately.

To my utter horror, what I discovered was a very predictable, boring movie which gives you a head spin with the worst camera angles possible.

The box office is ringing. Why? cause people like me are being fooled by ratings and reviews. A sincere plea, kindly avoid this movie and save your money.

Cinema stands for entertainment and a mix of emotions, this movie is so bland that it is almost unbelievable how people are voting for it. I am sure that there are lot of people who are biased by ratings out there and speaking from the throat but not the heart. Please come out and let me know if I am wrong in my review.
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Most overrated film of 2009.
Erik17 August 2009
After hitting 9.0 for the weekend, I broke down and saw it. There are certainly some things to recommend it - excellent CGI, and some fantastic acting by Sharlto Copley in the lead role. It's possible worth seeing if you don't mind watching some splatter-happy violence.

That being said - the story is a complete and utter mess. If you've seen the trailers or viral marketing pieces you know that it's about a bunch of aliens "refugees" stuck in a ghetto called District 9. Basically, it's a thinly-veiled apartheid movie with aliens. Expect to be beaten over the head by this through the entire length of the film. You see, it's about how evil people are and how much they hate people errr... things (remember... thinly veiled) that are different from them. People are especially evil if the get together and form large paramilitary corporations that are inexplicably allowed to flaunt every known or imagined law, ethic, and moral code with complete impunity. People are so evil and stupid that they'll concentrate all of their efforts into beating down "the others" and completely give up on deciphering the massive amounts of technology the others happen to have. There's no point in trying to integrate them into society, no National Geographic teams in there studying them. Nope, nope, nope, we're just too busy, as a species, being evil. Even though the aliens are very easily bribed into doing whatever, we don't even try to persuade them to use their technology for us. We don't even want to use them as slaves. Target practice, maybe. We're just too darned committed to being evil. The politicians are in on it. The media's in on it. The father-in-law's in on it. It's serious work being this evil.

Does this sound like a ridiculous and over-the-top description? It's not. There's no human in this movie who's not a complete jerk. The hero? He's really a jerk. Everyone around him is an even bigger jerk. There's no human character in this movie that doesn't deserve to be fed through a wood chipper (the alien characters that get any development are, of course, noble, peaceful, and loving). Let's just be honest. There's a certain mindset that just gets off on this mentality - these people will see this movie and say "Oh yes! yes! yes! We're all jerks! Show us how bad we are!" It's species-level self-flagellation at its finest if you're into that sort of thing. Otherwise you'll spend quite a bit of time rolling your eyes.

One final word - shakeycam. Yes, it's supposed to be "documentary-style," but this is was just overboard. Think "camera being held by a person with an inner ear infection having a seizure." 6 / 10 stars
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I just watched Avatar and yet...
Tejaswy Nalam24 December 2009
I have just watched Avatar yesterday and it completely blew my mind. The visuals were stunning and I thought it was one of the greatest movies to have been ever made.

I am still in the Avatar euphoria, yet, yet, YET, this movie re-composed my mind, only to blow it away yet again. The only difference is that it blew it away more absolutely than Avatar did.

If you are not into the Alien, Science Fiction, Creature, Documentary stuff the off chance is that you might not like it. I say off chance because so far there is only two people who I think will not care for it much - my father and my sister, but all the others, the movie will make converts of.

This is how direction should be. This is how pacing should be. This is how humor should be woven into drama. This is how the sound track should be. This is Science Fiction at its best yet! Come to think of it, I have been visiting IMDb even since it came on, and this movie actually made me register and write a review.

By Zarquon, this is the proverbial it.
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boe_dye sez: pseudo-intellectual drivel with more plot holes then chicken wire
boe_dye25 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I honestly went to this hoping to see something moderately original. And even if it wasn't original (which by the way, it really wasn't) at the very least something that would make me go "huh, interesting" not waiting till the end of the credits for punchline that never comes.

Within ten minutes of this documentary style film I was already wanting to leave. The pointless ramblings and the ridiculous plot holes are what really lost me. I suppose you could say that it was the "bigger picture", the apparent commentary on race relations that is what made this film. But even in that, if you have too many unanswered questions in a story, at least to a person who goes to the movies more often then not for a good story, then the message becomes lost.

We are meant to believe that this obviously advance race, just showed up on sunny afternoon, hovered over Johannesburg for a couple of days, only to be "liberated" by the altruistic humans, only to be "forced" into concentration camps for 20 years, while they scavenge for non-human alien parts, in order to return to their ship, so that they can go home and this whole time, while they not only have numbers and tech that could level the human race in a matter of months, they are doing nothing but hanging out in concentration camps and selling their incredibly advance weaponry (which only they can use due to genetic encoding), that is apparently illegal to have anyways according to the local government who are hosting these visitors as refugees, but they have it anyways, to the local gangs...

...For cat food...

That's about as stupid as saying that the Jews wanted to be captured and tortured and then finally liberated during the holocaust cause they had nothing else better to do for the weekend...

And then the subplot, or I suppose the plot of the social worker who get's a dose of his own prejudicial medicine by becoming the thing that he initially hates whom in the end he looks to as brother...

A movie for pseudo-intellectuals who can look over the apparent questions and only look at the race/prejudice issue, and get meaning out of this. Completely stupid, utterly a waste, and not a shred of intellectualism in it what so ever.

It's a scathing review because I myself am somewhat angered that I was suckered into this. However, PT Barnum speaks to me from the grave and reminds me that a sucker is born every minute.

Oh, and for all of you out there thinking that this is so original and edgy and never been done before, it has. It was done in an episode of the Outer Limits Entitled "The Grell". It came out ten years ago. Only difference is that the budget was considerably lower, and the story only needed about 45 minutes to the get the point across, and not nearly 2.5 hours...

However, It's not entirely fair to say that it's unoriginal because the Outer Limits has nearly covered just about every subject imaginable... But there it is. Technically speaking Babylon 5 did it with the Narn and the Centari, and so did Battlefield Earth, and even that was better then this...
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