Guest Author - Gail Kavanagh
Set in South Africa, District 9 is not your average scifi/aliens movie. There are no handsome heroes, no mystic music, and no shiny space ships. Instead, the hero is a bumbling clipboard clutching geek, and the aliens live in a Jo'burg slum and eat cat food. In short it's wonderfully realistic, and frequently disgusting.
The premise is that in 1982, a huge spaceship stopped dead over Johannesburg. On board were a bunch of pitiful alien creatures, starving and frightened. They were brought down to earth and placed in a slum called District 9. For 28 years, they have remained there, until South Africa calls in Multi-National United to evict them forcefully to a new location.
In charge of this operation is Wikus van de Merwe, played by Sharlto Copley. He is even more repellant than the aliens are believed to be. They are somewhat unattractive, it's true, and are scornfully referred to as 'prawns', but they don't run around with clipboards gleefully killing alien eggs and throwing humans out of their homes.
They do, however, deal with 'Nigerians' who sell them cat food and pimp prostitutes in District 9 - though what happens there we are thankfully not told. This is definitely not cute E.T. stuff. One of them also has the command module of the spaceship (still hanging in the Jo'burg sky like bricks don't)and when Wikus stumbles into its experiments, he gets covered in alien fluid and you almost feeling like cheering. Serve the dope right.
But he soon starts to notice some weird effects of being doused in alien goo - he is turning into a 'prawn', and while humans scientist have appeared to leave the aliens alone because they have nothing of interest to us, Wikus does have something of interest - he can kill with his alien arm. So he ends up in a lab and finds lots of sneaky stuff going on.
Director Neill Blomkamp's film is a wild and crazy ride through all levels of human nuttiness, apathy, prejudice and just plain stupidity, but he hitches most of it to the more than capable shoulders of Copley, who is magnificent, even improvising most of his dialog. Though not a sympathetic character, Copley's portrayal of this sad loser is so deft and masterful that in the end we do even feel sympathy for him.
Producer Peter Jackson (yes, THE Peter Jackson) offered the finance for this movie to Blomkamp as compensation for the disappointment of not being able to make a movie version of Halo, the video game. Jackson must feel it was money well spent, for this far more satisfying.
I paid for this DVD with my own fnds.