UFO Digest Movie Review: An Insight into District 9

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Sam Willey's picture
Prior to witnessing District 9 on the big screen for myself, I had read a number of reviews with regards to the movie which hit cinema screens in the UK, on September 4th. All reviews seemed to point to District 9 being a five star, two thumbs up performance. Naturally I therefore had high expectations and left the cinema moderately, yet not fully satisfied. The movie is most certainly one to watch but I believe the hype surrounding this production was most definitely exaggerated to a certain extent. On the day of the movie release British newspapers were taken over by five star reviews of District 9, it was put forward as an epic and certainly not a movie to be missed. The hype surrounding this movie was at the level of last year?s release of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight.
 

 

 

The story surrounds an arthropod-like alien race whose mother ship stops seemingly stranded above Johannesburg, South Africa in 1990. The story itself actually takes place 20 years after the arrival of the aliens in 2010. The human population welcome the aliens at first but 20 years on tensions become high and the population becomes sick of the stranded visitors, being held in a refugee camp which soon turns into a militarized ghetto. Multi-National United (MNU) are called in to forcibly evict the alien population and move them to another location away from the human populous. Operative Wikus van der Merwe is put in charge of the operation; soon Wikus is exposed to an unknown alien element and soon becomes a fugitive on the run. The story is adapted from a 2005 short film directed by Neill Blomkamp entitled Alive in Joeburg. The story was also inspired by historical events that took place in South Africa during the apartheid and the social segregation involved. It is thought the movie makes reference to District Six, an inner-city residential area in Cape Town that was declared for ?whites only? by the government in 1966.

The aspect of this movie that immediately grabbed my attention was the way in which the movie is so uniquely presented. The way this movie is shot really breaks the mould as far as science fiction movies go. A documentary style of filming is used; interviews of main characters are presented as well as interviews with people on the ground witnessing the events. Furthermore footage seemingly being shown by news companies is also thrown in the mix; this does not exclusively stay within local media but flicks to a variety of stations worldwide. This unique element adds a factor of realism to the entire District 9 experience, at times you feel you are fully engaged with what is happening. From my point of view if you had no contact with the outside world from 1990 until 2010, then watched the documentary portions of the movie you would actually believe what is going on in the movie as reality.

Other science fiction movies such as War of the Worlds and Independence Day seem fixed on the whole idea of aliens invading the planet. District 9 takes a different approach which also adds to the uniqueness of this movie. I found this a fresh change from the usual run of the mill science fiction, at some stages I felt sorry for the alien race. The human beings in the movie were certainly the main aggressors, not running from the aliens but in a way hunting them down and telling them what to do, such as evicting them from District 9. It?s like the game of cat and mouse being the aliens wiping out humans has been reversed.

One of the aliens in the movie has a small son, this truly shows that though the aliens are different from human beings they are not necessarily cold hearted, invaders from outer space. I saw past the fact that the aliens had an appearance resembling a large prawn and saw the values the aliens were portrayed as having, such as the desire to return home and away from the foreign environment and the need to look after their young. This brings up another interesting aspect of this movie being how different the appearance of the aliens is compared to human beings. In past science fiction movies the aliens have been portrayed with many human qualities as far as appearance is concerned. Most movies show aliens as greys, a race of ET?s who have reportedly been involved with real life abduction cases. The greys tend to have large heads but human-like bodies, a total difference to the large arthropod-like creatures in District 9.

 

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