When I first saw District 9 it was at the urging of my brother (who hates sci-fi movies). He said he had never seen an alien movie quite like this one, and thought I needed to watch it. He was right.
I was actually reminded, in a vague sort of way, of the ‘80s movie “Enemy Mine”. Just make it a lot darker.
Both movies take direct aim at mankind’s prejudices, District 9 however doesn't sugarcoat them at all. It lays them bare in an ugly yet truthful light.
If you have any heart at all, this movie is hard to watch. It will make you uncomfortable. You will shift around in your seat not knowing whether to root for the “hero” or not. This is not a feel good movie to sit down with a soda and popcorn and hoot and holler at the explosions. I found myself completely silent throughout the entire movie, and taking deep breaths at the end.
The storyline: 20 years ago, aliens (cruelly nicknamed Prawns for their appearance or their bottom-feeding ways) crash-landed on Earth, in Johannesburg, South Africa. These were not the all powerful, benevolent creatures that mankind had come to expect. They were starving, near death, and in our eyes, ugly. They were also very violent beings, taking delight in explosions of every kind, casually killing each other and us – it was not an alliance that any government wanted. Yet they could not leave our planet, so the Prawns were soon rounded up and given their “own” land, District 9, a place that was to be kept separate from humans for the safety of all.
Yet even this area has become too volatile, so the corporation MNU (Multi-National United) has been charged with evicting the Prawns and moving them to District 10. The man in charge is Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley). It is during this eviction that we see how truly appallingly the aliens are treated. They are considered dumb animals to be tricked and forced. They have no rights. When Wikus meets up with a truly intelligent alien, Christopher, he is stumped and resorts to threatening the alien’s child in order to get what he wants.
Through a series of events Wikus is exposed to an alien substance, however, that fundamentally changes him. He begins to mutate and he discovers himself just how few rights the aliens truly have. His own corporation wishes to do experiments upon him in order to secure weapons that they have been unable to access in the past (as they only work for the Prawns). Wikus finds himself turning to the very same alien for help that he was just the day before blackmailing.
This movie pushes what mankind is capable of, good and bad. We see it every day on the playground and in the workplace; when backed by a mob, people can be cruel and even evil. Yet when faced alone a sole person can have the backbone to stand straight and do what is right and be kind and caring.
This is ultimately what this film is about, although it is a sad commendation on how long it takes the hero to get there.
District 9 is Rated R for bloody violence and pervasive language. When it says “pervasive language” – it really means it. I think the “F” word is used in every other sentence. I definitely would not recommend this for younger teens, but if you have older teens and are willing to watch it with them, this film will give you an excellent opportunity to talk about prejudice, cruelty, and bullying.
I purchased this DVD with my own funds.