August 14, 2009 District 9
Studio: Tri-Star Rating: R for bloody violence and pervasive language.
An alien race shows up in ship which hovers over South Africa. But they're not here to conquer or to save us. They're stuck.
That's the setup for "District 9," which explores what might happen if extraterrestrials visited us but under very different circumstances than what we usually see in the movies.
The aliens are called prawns, because they look like seafood with a touch of insect. After relocating them from their disabled ship to a shantytown on the ground, the government decides to move them far away from a fearful population. But the aliens aren't eager to leave.
Sharlto Copley stars at Wikus. He's an obnoxious bureaucrat who is put in the charge of the relocation. But an accident infects him with an alien virus and may make him the only person on earth who can use their technology. That make Wikus a target and he disappears into the shantytown where unlikely allies await.
Director Neill Blomkamp has given us much more than a standard alien "bug hunt" type of movie. Shot in the style of a documentary it takes a hard look at how we treat beings who are different than us. And it shows how fear and greed can bring out the worst in the human race.
It's no accident that South Africa is the setting. A country with its history of separation is the perfect place to explore the types of issues "District 9" delves into.
This film uses a thoughtful and sharp approach to a story in which we are not necessarily the good guys.
On my rating scale, "District 9" earns a HOME RUN. It reminded me of some of the great science fiction films I've enjoyed, like "Blade Runner" and "Aliens."