Friday, August 14, 2009

District 9

District 9 - review by ZackRelease Date: August 14th, 2009

Click here for the District 9 Trailer.

28 years ago an alien space craft landed over Johannesburg, South Africa. The craft floated in the sky with the human race waiting for first contact or even an attack. When nothing at all happened, the humans decided to cut their way into the ship and investigate. Inside the ship, the humans found millions of alien refugees starving and dying of malnutrition. The aliens appeared to be only workers with their leadership mysteriously gone. Seeing the terrible state the aliens were in, the humans decided to transport them from the ship to a special camp set up for them. At the camp the humans gave them shelter and food, with the aliens developing an addiction to cat food. The world's most powerful nations argued over what should become of the aliens and when patience ran out, they put the Multi-National United (MNU), a private weapons manufacturer, in charge of the aliens. The camp the aliens were in eventually became a fenced in slum with the aliens living shacks. The area, under heavy surveillance, became known as District 9.

MNU, who is in charge of the aliens, cares nothing for the safety or well being of the "Prawns", which is the derogatory term given to the aliens by the humans. The only thing MNU is interested in is the alien weaponry the Prawns brought with them. For years the humans have tried to used the alien technology to no avail. The humans can not use the alien weapons because the alien weapons only respond to alien DNA. If MNU can make the advanced weaponry work, they stand to make a tremendous profit. While MNU is working to figure out the weapons, the citizens of Johannesburg are becoming increasingly hostile towards the Prawns and the Prawns are starting to riot in the streets. When the citizens have had enough, they demand that the Prawns be moved. To comply with the demands of the people, MNU creates a team to serve eviction notices to the Prawns and force them to move to a new area, named District 10, which is located 240km outside of Johannesburg.

MNU field operative Wikus van der Merwe(Sharlto Copley) is put in charge of moving the 1.8 million Prawns to the new District 10. The legality of the eviction notice says that MNU must give the prawns 24 hrs notice before evicting them but MNU is trying to fool them and do it immediately. With help from a private military corporation working for MNU, Wikus goes into District 9 to begin the evictions. While evicting the residents of District 9, Wikus and his teams come across many illegal human and non-human weapon's caches hidden in the Prawn's shacks. While Wikus and his team are evicting the aliens, a Prawn named Christopher Johnson is searching through debris with his son Little CJ and Christopher's friend. Christopher is looking for any piece of alien debris that could house a special type of fluid they can use as a fuel source. Little CJ finds what they are looking for and the three of them go back to the friend's house to use it. While there the MNU agents arrive. Christopher tells his friend to hide the canister the fuel is in and to be polite to the agents so they don't get suspicious. When the Prawn answers the door he slams it in there faces which causes the MNU agents to break in and discover his "chemistry set" he was using to harness the fuel. While searching the shack, Wikus finds the canister. Believing it to not be a weapon, Wikus messes with it and accidentally releases the fluid directly in his face.

After the incident, Wikus became very ill and sustained a serious injury to his left arm. While back at work, Wikus starts to feel the effects of the incident more heavily. He starts having serious stomach cramps and some of his fingernails even start to fall off. When he returns home, he finds a surprise party celebrating his promotion ti head of the eviction team. while at the party, Wikus becomes even more sick and passes out. His wife takes him to the hospital where the doctors remove the bandage on his arm. when they do, it is revealed that Wikus' arm has transformed into a claw exactly like the Prawns have. MNU takes Wikus into custody and begins to perform tests on him. During the tests, it is revealed that Wikus can use the alien technology since his DNA is now infused with the alien DNA, making Wikus the most valuable human in the world. The scientists discover that Wikus' DNA is now in perfect harmony with the alien DNA and decide to cut him up and harvest him for biological material so they can attempt to replicate his ability to use the alien weapons. Before the scientists can begin, Wikus grabs a scalpel and takes a doctor hostage which allows him to escape.

On the run, Wikus goes to the one place he knows MNU won't go looking for him, District 9. While hiding out there, Wikus stumbles into the shack of Christopher. Christopher is initially unaccepting of Wikus and tells him to leave until he sees his arm. Christopher knows that Wikus' condition is a result of the device Wikus confiscated from Christopher's friend. Christopher tells Wikus that if he can get to the mothership then he can fix Wikus. But in order to do so he needs the cylinder that MNU now has in their laboratory. Wikus tells Christopher that going there is a suicide mission and leaves. That night, Wikus talks to his wife who tells him that she still loves him and still wants to be with him. After hearing his wife say this, Wikus is determined to fix his arm and return his life to normal. He goes back to Christopher and agrees to help him break into MNU but first they need weapons. Wikus goes to a local gang leader who was trading cat food to the Prawns in exchange for alien weapons. The gang leader is trying everything he can to get alien DNA so he can use the weapons and take over Johannesburg. Wikus offers to pay for the weapons but when the gang leader sees his arm he becomes infatuated with it. He believes the only way to get the alien powers is to eat Wikus' arm. When the gang tries to kill Wikus, he grabs an alien gun and fights his way out, taking more weapons with him.

When he returns to Christopher, the two of them stage their assault on MNU. They blast there way into the building and head down to the lower levels where the lab is. When there they begin looking for the device when Christopher sees how MNU has been chopping up his people and using them as experiments. When the security force comes down to kill Wikus and Christopher, the two blast their way out. When they get back to Christopher's shack, Christopher reveals a ship that is buried under his shack and tells Wikus that it is the way he is going to get up to the mothership. However, Christopher says that it will take around three years for him to fix Wikus, saying he needs to save his people first year. Outraged by the amount of time it will take, Wikus knocks out Christopher and goes into the ship with Little CJ. Wikus, using his alien arm, flies the ship out of the ground while the MNU army force comes to arrest them. The security force shoots one of the engines off of the craft, forcing it to crash. The security team begins to move to that location as the gang in District 9 does the same. A huge firefight breaks out between the security force and the gang members with the gang members capturing Wikus and taking him back to their boss. While there, Little CJ takes remote control of a mechanized battle suit and frees Wikus who enters the suit and goes to find Christopher. Christopher is about to be killed by the security team until Wikus attacks them telling Christopher to go to little CJ and the shuttle while he fends off the attackers. A tractor beam lifts little CJ, Christopher and the disabled shuttle into the mother ship as Wikus' mech suit is disabled and Wikus is released from it.

As Wikus crawls away he watches the mothership slowly start to fly away while the security chief approaches ready to kill Wikus. As he stands over Wikus, four Prawns, seeing what Wikus did, emerge from the shacks and tear apart the security chief, allowing Wikus to escape. The last known footage of Wikus is the scene of the security officer's death captured by security cameras set up in District 9. Christopher leaves in the mothership with Little CJ promising that in three years he will return for Wikus so he can help him become human again.

It is surprising that a movie made by a director/writer that not many people have heard of and starring a cast full of actors and actresses that nobody really knows would be one of the best movies of the summer. In fact, the only big name attached to this film was the name of producer Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings). This film is based off of the short film Alive in Joburg which was also directed by Neil Blomkamp, Sharlto Copley, Simon Hansen and Shanon Worley. If there is one thing this movie has it is originality and uniqueness. We have all seen alien movies in the past but this one is unlike anything ever attempted.

This differs from most alien movies in several key factors. First of all it takes place in South Africa where the ship landed. A majority of alien films take place in big American cities like New York, L.A. or Washington D.C. They even make a point in the movie to mention how most people would expect the ship to land in one of those places. Another way it differs is the circumstances by which the aliens arrive. They arrive as refugees, starving and on the verge of death. There is no first contact or war or anything. This movie also differs in the treatment of the aliens. The aliens are set up in a concentration camp-style housing situation and are treated like second class citizens. This movie brings an entirely new meaning to the term racism. The aliens, for the most part, just try to make it through their lives but the humans treat them like animals. It really added to the originality of the movie. In almost all alien films, the aliens are higher beings and are portrayed to be so much more wise and better than the humans. However in this film, they were beneath humans. In some ways, the aliens acted just like humans in the way they lived and talked. It seemed sometimes the only difference was how they looked.

The way this movie was shot was also very unique. The beginning of the film was set out to be a documentary/interview following Wikus van der Merwe and his eviction of the aliens from District 9. It had shaky camera angles and realistic actions as if an actual person was holding the camera. It reminded me a lot of movies like Cloverfield and Quarantine, both of which had the same feel to them. Once Wikus escaped and was on the run, the camera switched to a more stationary angle.

The main genre of this movie is a sci-fi drama. However, it adds in a bit of humor and a lot of action towards the second half of the film. From the trailers, you really do not know what to expect from District 9. You think it is just about alien abuse and how humans are dealing with aliens however the nice twist thrown in gives you more than you were expecting and possibly leaves room for a sequel. The biggest problem people will have with this movie is the beginning. The movie starts off very slow which could deter you and make you loose interest before the great aspects of the film can take hold of you. If I can give you any piece of advice on seeing this move it would be to watch all of it and give it a chance. If you do you will experience a film whose originality and unique theme is something that does not come along very often.

This truly was an incredible film. The aliens looked very realistic in how they reacted with the environment and other things in the world. It really seemed like an actual documentary about real aliens living amongst us. A brave film indeed and one that took a big risk. But with big risks comes big rewards and District 9 is already well on it's way to becoming the most popular and best movie of the summer. I give District 9 10 Alien Concentration Camps out of 10

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review. I am convinced to watch this movie after reading your review as all my friends do have a negative response. Thanks for pointing the highlights as they made me crazy for this movie.