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From producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and director Neill Blomkamp comes a startlingly original sciencefiction thriller that "soars on the imagination of its creators" (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone). With stunning special effects and gritty realism, the film plunges us into a world where the aliens have landed... only to be exiled to a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. Now, one lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology. Hunted and hounded through the bizarre back alleys of an alien shantytown, he will discover what it means to be the ultimate outsider on your own planet.
A provocative science fiction drama, District 9 boasts an original story that gets a little lost in blow-'em-up mayhem. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, District 9 begins as a mock documentary about the imminent eviction of extraterrestrials from a pathetic shantytown (called District 9). The creatures, it turns out, have been on Earth for years, having arrived sickly and starving. Initially received by humans with compassion and care, the aliens are now mired in blighted conditions typical of long-term refugee camps unwanted by a hostile, host society. With the creatures' care contracted out to a for-profit corporation, the shantytown has become a violent slum. The aliens sift through massive piles of junk while their minders secretly research weapons technology that arrived on the visitors' spacecraft.
Against this backdrop is a more personal story about a bureaucrat named Wikus (Sharlto Copley) who is accidentally exposed to a DNA-altering substance. As he begins metamorphosing into one of the creatures, Wikus goes on the run from scientists who want to harvest his evolving, new parts and aliens who see him as a threat. When he pairs up with an extraterrestrial secretly planning an escape from Earth, however, what should be a fascinating relationship story becomes a series of firefights and explosions. Nuance is lost to numbing violence, and the more interesting potential of the film is obscured. Yet, for a while District 9 is a powerful movie with a unique tale to tell. Seamless special effects alone are worth seeing: the (often brutal) exchanges between alien and human are breathtaking. --Tom Keogh
District 9 downloadables (Click for pdf file)
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I saw this movie when it came out in the theaters and was immediately struck with how remarkable the story turns out to be. It is the tale of aliens who are stranded on earth and are placed in "slums" in Johannesburg, South Africa. The living conditions are deplorable and the treatment of the aliens, in many ways, parallels that of refugees from many nations throughout the last 20+ years. Copley, the company man, finds himself in a situation that makes him change is views on the aliens. The film has action, science fiction, and is very thought-provoking as well. This movie continues to be one of my favorite science fiction films!
I recommend to alien buffs and yes, socially conscious individuals.
1) A compelling story: Filmed in part documentary/part action film style, the viewer is rapidly drawn into the story and the plight of the protaganist(s). A great story that keeps the viewer engaged with an adrenalin rush to the end.
2) Thought-provoking themes: Animal testing, racism and xenophobia, loyalties, the reach of big corporations, questions of humanity...and how do we treat others who look differently from us?
3) High quality production: No cheesy aliens-- it's entirely believable and fresh. The integration of the aliens and space ship(s) in the scenes are seamless, as well as the fight scenes.
One negative: I was disappointed only by the acting of the father-in-law. While his motivations were understood on the surface, very little substance seemed to be underneath-- which led me to feel the character was not well developed-- although he played a pivotal part in the protagonist's plight.
While some of the ideas are occasionally heavy handed or on the nose, it's so exciting to see a Hollywood action film that traffics in ideas,
that I'm willing to forgive the occasional 'I get it already' moment, or logic lapse, or easy coincidence, or mediocre supporting performance.
The story is simple. A million plus grotesque looking, starving and sickly aliens get stranded on Earth when they essentially run out of
fuel. And while at first humans try to reach out in friendship, before long corporations are trying to make money by exploiting their
technology (especially, or course, their weapons) and the aliens are herded into a 'district' and walled in. (That the film is set in South
Africa is one of those choices that feels like gilding the lily - even though that is the film-maker's home). And it's clear that progressing
from apartheid to Nazi style medical experiments and concentration camps is the next step.
While I wish the villains were less mustache twirling (some 'banality of evil' would have been even more chilling), the effects are great,
and it's a film that grew, not shrank as it went along. For the first third I thought it was OK, the second pretty good, and by the end I
loved it. And it's stuck with me.