Saturday 11 September 2010

District 9 – review!

dist Naturally I had heard about this movie, but I was completely unprepared for what it was actually about! I had expected yet another documentary-style movie (which it is), but it is also so much more.

The film opens with a  series of interviews that introduce the story: twenty years earlier, an alien ship arrives above Johannesburg, South Africa. It hovers above the city for three months without any contact, but eventually humans go up and cut into the ship. They discover a large group of aliens who are malnourished and sick and they bring them down to a holding camp (district 9) which eventually turns into a slum.  Difficult relationships emerge between the population of Johannesburg and the aliens (which are referred to as ‘prawns’ by the locals.) Eventually the government bring in a task force to relocate the aliens to a different location, away from the city.

The head of the task force is Wikus van der Merwe. He is a type of bumbling geek (imagine a character from The Office, and you won’t be far off). He also has no respect for the 'prawns’, or their welfare. His only redeeming quality is that he has somehow managed to marry the beautiful daughter of his boss (which is also the only reason he was given the job).

While issuing eviction notices he finds a silver canister which then sprays him in the face with a black fluid. Immediately something is not quite right, and what follows is the district 9 type of transformation that takes place in the movie, The Fly. Wikus quickly gets sick and not long after discovers he has grown an alien arm.

Suddenly Wikus is the man everyone else wants. Because of his transformation he can work the alien weaponry that previously could only be used by the aliens, due to their DNA. He finds refuge in the only place he can, the alien slum. Here he strikes up a relationship with an alien called Christopher Johnson, who also has a small son.  Together they try to stop Wikus’s transformation and, in turn, find the fluid needed to get the aliens back home again.

I had expected this movie to be scary, but, even though it wasn’t (and wasn’t supposed to be), it was still a really good film.  I started the movie really disliking Wikus, but by the end I was really rooting for both him and the aliens.  The aliens at the start aren’t shown to be particularly intelligent or humanoid, but this is turned around by the introduction of Christopher and his son.  The bad guys are the government agency, and they really are horrible – conducting experiments on the aliens and even prepared to cut Wikus open while he was still conscious!

district At some point during the movie it stops being in a documentary style and is just normal ‘movie-style’, but I didn’t notice when this happened, so I guess it worked well enough!  The start is a little slow, but it quickly sped up and then it is fast paced right through to the end.  It was also a really original storyline, and, as I said, not what I had expected.  I guess I had expected something more like Cloverfield, but it was completely different!

As with all Peter Jackson films, the effects were really good, and towards the end I could even see a bit of Avatar influence on the effects creeping in.

Overall, District 9 is a really good movie - even if it’s not scary!  Something Wicked 8/10.




  1. Marissa, did my 16 year old send you some kind of note or something? He's been trying to get me to sit down for this film ever since he brought home the dvd. I have seen a few parts, while he was watching it one day, but have yet to se the whole thing. I guess the both of you are twisting my arm now.
    Thanks for the review, and I'll have to let you know what I think when I finally see it.
    Have a great weekend,

  2. I loved the review Marissa and agree with it 100%. As a South African I picked up on certain SA humour that was cleverly tucked away. Not forgetting to mention the familiar accent. I too thought it had an unusual beginning, but it sucked me right in. I must say this was truly "Something Wicked"
    Next one to watch is INVICTUS – Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman where amazing!!

  3. A good film which launched many "prawn" jokes in our house, i.e "Prawn Free", "Prawn Again". However it didn´t show South Africa in a very good light and as for the Nigerians wanting to eat the aliens. Well! I more or less agree with Marissa´s rating and comments a definite 8/10 and I was rooting for Christopher too. Is there a sequel proposed?

  4. LOL! Love the prawn jokes!
    Yes, I think there are talks about a sequel, to be called 'District 10'. No dates yet though, as far as I am aware.
    Anita - my husband is Kiwi, so we will be sitting down to watch Invictus some time soon!
    James - watch the movie! You won't regret it. I promise!

  5. I saw this one in the theater. I felt odd after watching it. It was shocking, disturbing, and I'm not so sure I would have been as kind in my rating.

    I blogged about it too, after I watched it. I think I'd give it a 6 or 7.

    Jimmy will have to weigh in after he watches it and let us know.