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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 38.24%
Average: 10.78%
Pretty Bad: 1.96%
Total Crap: 4.9%

6 reviews, 66 user ratings

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District 9
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by brianorndorf

"The alien nation from 100 perspectives"
4 stars

An electric brew of “Alien Nation” and “The Fly,” coated with a viscous layer of social commentary, “District 9” is a volatile action/horror picture with a stupendous visual fingerprint. A barnstorming combat film with flashy weaponry, alien mysteries, and goopy body trauma, the film is destined to become a cult classic -- a largely unapologetic statement of hysteria, flanked by large deposits of geek Spanish fly. However, while there’s astounding visual reach, “District 9” is riddled with inconsistencies and a confusing point of view, reducing the heat on this ambitious film, robbing it of a lasting power it should rightfully own.

20 years ago, a massive alien mothership appeared above Johannesburg, South Africa. Inside was a race of dying creatures, soon brought down to Earth by local government and forced to live in a walled off section of the city, dubbed District 9. As the aliens, nicknamed “Prawns” due to their vaguely crustacean appearance, grow in numbers and hostility, the task of relocation to a concentration camp has been handed to the Multi-National United Corporation and its head field operative, Wikus (Sharlto Copley). Entering the vile shantytown, teams of soldiers find the Prawns concocting a secretive plan of attack, with Wikus coming into contact with a mysterious black liquid. Forced to flee when he learns his superiors want to tear him apart for examination, Wikus heads back to District 9, befriending an intelligent Prawn named Christopher.

Based loosely on the events of District Six that occurred in South Africa in the 1970s, “District 9” collects bits of history, sci-fi, and action to build itself a story of man hating alien. An unusual visitation tale, the film seeks to reimagine the ravages of apartheid with an otherworldly angle, positioning the Prawns as the abused culture, separated from the general public, finding their rights refused in the name of governmental protection and handed a war zone for a home. The political and social overtones of “District 9” are straightforward and vividly distributed, integrated cleverly by director/co-screenwriter Neill Blomkamp, who conjures a horrific atmosphere of violence and humiliation as man finds renewed purpose keeping the Prawns at bay.

How this story is captured is where my head starts to spin. Introduced as a documentary, “District 9” is ostensibly telling the story of Wikus and his company man efforts to get the Prawns to their new, vaguely threatening home. Blomkamp arranges faux news footage of the District’s violence and community filth, while “interviewing” Wikus’s closest associates and superiors. Following the action into the District as Wikus and the soldiers go from door to door to con the residents, the film finds an incredible stride of intrigue and discovery, with Blomkamp parading around some of the finest special effects work of the year to merge the real and the unreal into a singularly disturbing, unsettling event.

The feature soon rudely breaks away from the factual perspective, morphing into direct fiction, as Wikus’s accident with the black goo becomes a living nightmare. From there, Blomkamp juggles back and forth between shaky-cam documentary footage and traditional dramatics. It’s a hazy perspective that cheats the film out of a compelling identity, making the intention of the footage confusing -- a needless distraction in the middle of overwhelmingly grungy eye candy. Is this a documentary? A dramatization? Blomkamp doesn’t answer the questions, leaving various plot-holes behind as he starts to scratch his geek itches.

Adapted from Blomkamp’s short film “Alive in Joberg,” “District 9” doesn’t feel like it was sufficiently inflated to fill a feature-length running time; instead, Blomkamp spackles the cracks in the story with explosions and the grisly wonders of alien machinery, taking an already violent film to the extreme for the final showdown. Bodies are torn apart, Blomkamp’s “Aliens” fixation is satisfied, and bullets of every design zip around the frame. Perhaps a majority of the audience won’t mind the way “District 9” hops on one foot, as long as the pyrotechnics display is appropriately blinding and the creatures are cool. And they are. Wonderfully so. Blomkamp is a filmmaker to watch, with absurdly precise visual instincts. But “District 9” is his first film and it shows, bloating a fascinating fable to a point of collapse.

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originally posted: 08/14/09 23:08:12
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell boring overrated crap 1 stars
4/26/15 Terror One of the greatest movies ever made 5 stars
3/24/15 the truth Stay the Fuck away from ALIEN, Neil! 1 stars
3/11/15 Joe This is great 5 stars
12/06/13 terra c One of the greatest sci fi films ever made 5 stars
1/18/13 austin great movie 5 stars
9/22/12 austin awesome. one of my favorites. 5 stars
4/19/11 Chris F complete and utter trash 1 stars
3/01/11 brian Sci-fi noir comedy. Hmm. 5 stars
1/14/11 dude I love this movie 5 stars
10/30/10 R.W. Welch Imaginative, if not terribly logical. Impressive acting. 4 stars
4/18/10 Ionicera Great movie overall, could have used a litle more setup initially 4 stars
3/28/10 Shaun A Realistic, satiric first half. Compelling second half. 5 stars
3/22/10 Stanley Thai It's a fresh and unique take with aliens coming to Earth. 4 stars
3/19/10 mr.mike So good I watched it twice. Beginning is a turnoff,tho. 4 stars
2/15/10 Simon Hokey story/writing by the end indeed, but Blomkamp's direction and creativity is promising 4 stars
1/25/10 LynchFan Wildly uneven!Really shitty first half(Blair Witch camera is tired)then good 2nd half.Weird 3 stars
1/21/10 daveyt loved the mix of styles and storytelleling, not highbrow- just entertaining!! 5 stars
1/10/10 Jeff Wilder More intelligence than most sci-fi films. 4 stars
12/30/09 randy todger awesome better than usual hollywood shit 5 stars
12/17/09 Mess Well-made science fiction full of quality moments, Blomkamp a rising star 4 stars
12/13/09 mwilde Not for the dim witted. 5 stars
12/05/09 pin very well done 4 stars
11/29/09 Aaron Commareri Refreshing Sci-Fi 5 stars
11/28/09 matt way more violent than i expected, but hugely entertaining 5 stars
10/23/09 Tessa Showed Apartheid in a light that would have not been allowed in a documentary. 5 stars
10/04/09 Rastafarian Bad ending----useful only to set up a sequel. 3 stars
10/04/09 Joseph The story itself sucked...action was good...but plot, story, etc...horrible! 1 stars
9/26/09 av_rated Unaware of the goal, the "more human than humans" angle was sold to perfection. 5 stars
9/15/09 ES Empathy; if you felt nothing during this movi you do not possess it. 5 stars
9/04/09 othree Convincing main character, I liked that, techo efx, bonus 4 stars
9/03/09 The Grinch Kicked more ass than Charles Bronson 5 stars
9/03/09 Gordon Slow and stupid story - Stunk; got my money back 1 stars
9/03/09 David A couple plot holes, but it's story was still interesting and the actrion kicked ass. 5 stars
9/01/09 KingNeutron Kind of shocking in parts, very thought-provoking 4 stars
9/01/09 DarkKnight77587 Can't wait to see Blomkamp's interpretation of HALO! This film was the spring board for it! 5 stars
8/31/09 Omar One of the best films I saw this year. 5 stars
8/30/09 MVC Definately a must see on the big screen 5 stars
8/27/09 R. G. Ranade Perfect first hour, still entertaining but not as great typical-action-movie second hour 4 stars
8/25/09 damalc not nearly what i expected, but not quite as good as many reviewers are saying 4 stars
8/24/09 gc Finally a summer movie with interesting characters and a unique plot, visuals awesome too 5 stars
8/21/09 Arturo Great movie, the final scene is so powerfull, can't wait to see the conclusion. 5 stars
8/20/09 DiamondJoe The mistress likes Aliens so it was good 4 stars
8/19/09 Night1836 Great graphics and it even had a plat! LOL! 5 stars
8/19/09 Slee Fresh and unexpected. Not perfect but darn good! 4 stars
8/19/09 action movie fan one the right track but hard to follow-aliens seem silly-still good 3 stars
8/19/09 FrankNFurter Shitty shaky-cam ruins the film, like in Cloverfield, Quarantine, Blair Witch, etc. 3 stars
8/18/09 Overrated It's "E.T." with explosions. Nothing unique about the story at all. Rent "Alien Nation" 3 stars
8/18/09 JB I agree, the very last scene is so very powerfull and full of depth- a sequel please 5 stars
8/18/09 Phineas Whites: no more 'sensitivity' to aliens that only want to destroy our culture AND US. 4 stars
8/18/09 Jack Teeple Best Sci Fi since Dark City 5 stars
8/18/09 BC Good Sci-Fi but be warned, very graphic 5 stars
8/18/09 veddermatic Wow, good Sci-Fi without a tacked on "happy" ending. Great, great film 5 stars
8/18/09 SueR A terrific movie that has it all--great acting, script, message, and special effects 5 stars
8/17/09 Sully Well worth 100 can of cat food! 5 stars
8/17/09 Quigley An amazing, mind-blowing and suprisingly emotional sci-fi tale. A new classic has been born 5 stars
8/17/09 Flounder A rare combination of gritty sci-fi and food for thought. Best sci-fi flick since the 80s 5 stars
8/17/09 chiyoko Loved this intelligent, emotional sci-fi end-of-summer movie. A stunner! 5 stars
8/17/09 Social studies loco I really didnt want to see this movie at first, glad i did bcuz it is one of the best films 5 stars
8/16/09 The Great Lee Card My heart was pounding because it was so f-ing epic. 5 stars
8/16/09 Obi Wan Great Sci Fi Movie....story was on point! 5 stars
8/16/09 Darkstar Tied with Star Trek for my favorite movie of the summer 5 stars
8/15/09 sleestakk Blomkamp explained the Nigerians during my Q&A. Definitely pre-existing problem in S.Africa 5 stars
8/14/09 steve best movie of the summer 5 stars
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  14-Aug-2009 (R)
  DVD: 29-Dec-2009


  DVD: 29-Dec-2009

Directed by
  Neill Blomkamp

Written by
  Neill Blomkamp
  Terri Tatchell


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