Review: District 9

District 9 Poster

District 9 Poster

Director: Neill Bolmkamp
Producer: Peter Jackson
Writers: Neill Bolmkamp
Terri Tatchell
Cast: Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley)
The rest are unimportant

First of all, you must know that District 9 was made on a measly budget of $50 million (thats about Rs. 144 Crores) only, which is about 4 times lesser than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen‘s budget of $200 million (Rs 962 Crores. Yikes). And, District 9 is approximately four times better than the latter. It puts big-budget films like Transformers to shame, with a cast and director not widely known at all.
District 9 is a movie based around an alien invasion. It’s not at all like your stereotypical alieninvasion film. In fact, it stands out distinctly. District 9 is does not focus on the alien invasion itself, but on the way it affects the entire society. But first, I must tell you about the simple, yet gripping plot.
An alien ship arrives in the 1980s, hovering over Johannesburg (South Africa), but instead of launching a hostile attack, it simply stays there.
The "prawn" spaceship hovering in Johannesburg

The "prawn" spaceship hovering in Johannesburg

Further observation within the ship reveals that it consists only of a number of malnourished aliens (nicknamed “prawns”), who are too weak to attack. The SA government decides to throw them in some camp in Jo’burg, which eventually turns into a slum, courtesy MNU
Fast-forward to present day South Africa. People accept them as a part of their lives and (dis)integrate them into their society, and you often catch glimpses of hilarious signs, which is an obvious indication of the mindset of the people – Chuck. Prawns. Out.
Signs of Their Times

Signs of Their Times

Multinational United (MNU) has been put in-charge of the aliens, although the name sounds more like a soccer club. MNU is responsible  for turning District 9 into a slum. And now, things get sinister when Head of Operations Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) gets infected, and begin transforming into a prawn. Superbly directed by Neill, District 9 always keeps you on the edge of your seats, even when the entire cinema hall is empty and the popcorn tastes revolting (I was a victim). It is clear that all humans want from the aliens is their sophisticated weapons, which work only with their DNA, where renders any human incapable of operating it. MNU uses employee Wikus to their own advantage – to operate weapons, and rip apart his heart and bone marrow to transfer the DNA to other individuals.

I don’t want to reveal any more of this plot, but I can safely say that basing this film in South Africa was very ingenious indeed, as it reminds you of the apartheid system. Aliens bound in chains by the MNU and the government, who rip apart their houses at will. Of course, there is a message from the movie, but unlike others, you grasp it without it being dinned into your head.

Also, the way the characters are written also makes the movie an engaging watch. Look out for Copley, who acts superbly as Wikus. The pain he has to go through is so severe and so well depicted, that you feel it too. Watch out for the alien scientist Christopher as well, and the odd bond which develops between Wikus and Christopher. Director Neill Bolmkamp has also paid great attention to detail, showing how the crime never stays clear of slums, and how locals take advantage of the aliens, by enticing them with their favourite cat food.

However, you will never miss the action and violence. There is plenty. A lot of heads are severed from the bodies and crushed upon my walking people. Aliens and humans are electrocuted alike, with blood and flesh falling on camera.

Of course, District 9 does have its fair share of worries. But the best part is, they may never seem to intrigue you. The film starts off more like a documentary, which may lead to slight boredom. Also, the ending of the film may not please you, as Wikus is stuck as a prawn forever. (Did I mention a spoiler warning?)

In the end, District 9 turns out to be an excellent film. See it for sure, as it is a mixture of a superb plot and stunning visual effects as well as sincere acting. Most of which other big budget films lack.

Plot: 9
Acting: 10
Visual+Sound Effects: 9
Direction: 9
Screenplay: 8

Rating: 9/10 (Brilliant!)



  1. Tapas Trivedi · September 25, 2009

    Nice one. . . see how superficial movies get cult followings ??

    Some like Cloverfield sometimes shook my immense faith in absence of E.Ts . . .

  2. Aditya · September 25, 2009

    Gee. Never heard of Cloverfield. Will try to see the movie as soon as possible.
    Thanks for the compliment!

  3. Pingback: Review: Avatar « Shadow Line

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