Jackson asked Blomkamp if he had any other ideas for movies and Blomkamp suggested this story of aliens stranded in Johannesburg. And after watching District 9, you can't help but wish Blomkamp had been allowed to move forward with Halo. What he does with $30 million on District 9 rivals any CG effects film Hollywood's popped out in the last dozen years. And effects aside, District 9 shows real heart and soul, something sorely lacking in most 2009 big-budget summer releases. See Hollywood, this is what can be accomplished for a reasonable budget at the hands of a true storyteller.
The Story27 years ago an alien spacecraft came to a halt over Johannesburg. Breaking into the ship, it was discovered the extraterrestrial creatures onboard were in horrible shape and had to be evacuated from their ship to a special fenced-in area (detainment camp/ghetto) referred to as District 9. Flash forward to the present and these 'prawns' (a derogatory nickname based on their crustacean-like appearance) are being forced to vacate their camp by the Multi-National United (MNU) corporation, the entity charged with overseeing alien affairs.
Through documentary-style footage, we hear Wikus' friends and co-workers talking about the man, and we watch as Wikus conducts his campaign of notifying the aliens they're to be relocated. He's proud as punch to uncover weapons stashes, and equally thrilled to show off how to abort alien babies.
The ActingSharlto Copley does a positively amazing job portraying this twitchy, even unlikable, mid-level manager. Copley's performance is riveting, his commitment to his character's strange arc is nothing less than award-worthy. Wikus goes through an emotional and physical transformation and Copley conveys every change completely convincingly. And you would never know watching the film that Copley was most often acting opposite absolutely nothing. Never once does he waver from making this District 9 world feel like reality.
The Bottom LineBlomkamp chose to shoot much of the film documentary-style, using handheld cameras and telling the story from the filmmaker's point of view. Many scenes have a news scroll on the bottom portion, adding to the film's gritty realism. Blomkamp's visual style makes you believe this aggression between humans and unwanted alien visitors is going down right here, right now.
District 9 contains some of the most incredible CG creatures ever integrated into a film. These aliens speak using a series of groans and clicks, and look like huge ambulatory shrimp, yet Blomkamp manages to infuse them with individual personalities. The lead prawn, Christopher Johnson, is even more relatable and humane than Wikus.
District 9 doesn't skimp on the action, but it also doesn't sacrifice character development. Masterfully done and totally engaging, District 9 is the perfect finishing touch to the summer action movie season.
District 9 was directed by Neill Blomkamp and is rated R for bloody violence and pervasive language.
Theatrical Release: August 14, 2009