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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.
I've never seen anything like it, and what I saw was a delightful, fresh story about aliens stuck on a planet they had not intended to visit. Major kudos to the whole movie team for telling a difficult story, shot through with human insight and sensitivity, set in the political hotbed of Johannesburg, South Africa, without succumbing to a political agenda.
Weta Digital continued its firmly established track record of producing special effects so outstanding that they are completely invisible. Those aliens are _real_; you'll have to watch the production clips to confirm otherwise. This was after they did King Kong (2005) but before Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).
The film was produced by Peter Jackson's Wingnut team, with credits for Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. (I will confess that it was because of their names and of course Weta Digital that I even noticed the movie.) It was director Neill Blomkamp's first feature film, and even allowing for the fact that he stood on the shoulders of these titans of the modern film industry, he did an outstanding job.
It was also the first feature film for the star, Sharlto Copley, but you'd never be able to tell that he was a rookie from his performance in District 9. His Wilkus van der Merwe character is as polished and believable (even in such an outlandish setting) as anything you'll see coming from Hollywood.
Of course, there's always something to whine about. The ending is somewhat satisfying, but the film stops short of the complete story, leaving unresolved plot elements open. That was a disappointment, but not quite enough to take away a star from the rating.
The basic plot element of a big defense company wanting to use alien DNA so they can make the aliens work is really implausible. Putting on my aerospace engineer hat, I have to note that if you demonstrate to us monkey boys that a system does work and put a working model into our hands, we'll figure out how to build it without need for extraterrestrial DNA to unlock the toys.
But my major whine is aimed at Sony Entertainment's production of the actual DVD; they loaded it down with so many previews that it took 15 minutes just to get to the point where I could view the actual movie. And what the heck was a Michael Jackson video doing in the startup for "District 9"? Maybe they just wanted to show another version of an ugly alien life form, but, seriously, never put an image like that in my had again.