“District 9.” – Movie Review.

By Bob Zerull

5 Stars:

I had heard nothing but amazing things going into this movie. Some critics had called “District 9” the best movie of 2009. That’s pretty impressive praise, even if it’s from a fan boy critic. And this is with “Watchmen,” “The Hurt Locker,” and “Inglourious Basterds” all coming out this year. My expectations were high, but at the same time I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the feeling or mood of the film.

What really made me interested was the trailer. In the trailer there was a scene with an alien being interrogated. There were subtitles under the alien that said something like we just want to go home. The funny thing is that scene is not even in the movie, and it doesn’t even matter. Another fascinating fact going in was that this was a $30 million movie with no name actors in it. I’m sure this was due to Peter Jackson presenting the movie, but still what studio signs off on that?

“District 9” begins in documentary/mocumentary style. An alien spaceship is hovering above the city of Johannesburg in South Africa. The government goes in to check out this ship only to find thousands of malnourished aliens who are terrified of what might happen next. The government brings these aliens to Earth to house them and provide nourishment. They house these aliens in “District 9” which eventually turns to slum-like conditions.

Where there are slums there are crimes. After 20 years the people of Johannesburg want the aliens out of their city. The aliens become known as “prawns.” The government, led by the MNU (Multi-National United), proceeds to evict the prawns from “District 9” to a new district (known as District 10 - sequel anyone?). The MNU sends in Wikus Van De Merwe to give the prawns a 24 hour eviction notice. Wikus is a careless, screw-up of a leader. The only reason he was chosen to do the evictions is because nobody else wants to do it.

Wikus becomes exposed to the prawn’s biotechnology and the MNU turns on him. Wikus hooks up with a prawn named Christopher Johnson. Yes, the alien’s name is Christopher Johnson. Johnson had been working for 20 years gathering the biotechnology that Wikus ultimately gets exposed to, trying to make his way home. Wikus joins Johnson on a mission to find the biotechnology that is now in the possession of the MNU. What ensues is the exciting third act that leaves us with a wide variety of possibilities if they ever decide to sequel this.

“District 9” is one of the most original movies I’ve seen in a very long time. I have to agree with other critics and fans that “District 9” is the best movie so far in 2009. I would love to see a movie like this get some Academy Award attention. I doubt it will because of the Academy. It doesn’t like to recognize genre pictures. That said, this movie is beyond just a science fiction story. I would compare it to something like “Hotel Rwanda” with aliens. First time director Neill Blomkamp uses aliens as a metaphor much like Romero uses zombies, but Blomkamp takes it to another level. He’s using the aliens to represent the apartheid that has taken place in South America.

What’s good? The originality of the story still blows my mind. I don’t think any moviegoer is truly going to know what they are in for. This movie is definitely special. The performances are top notch. First time actor Sharlto Copley delivers the best performance I’ve seen so far this year as Wikus Van De Merwe. This movie is definitely a Sci Fi movie, so it has that element of excitement and entertainment, but at the same time it is like you’re watching a documentary on apartheid.

What’s bad? Not much. There are some pretty funny moments in the movie, but I don’t know if that’s bad or not. It’s not really out of place. Humor is a part of everyday life, so I guess I would still consider it good, but if anything is going to distract you from the plot it is the humor.

This is a fascinating movie. I highly recommend checking it out.


Bob Zerull is a frequent movie and concert goer who talks about his ventures to arenas and theaters more than any person should be allowed to do. Now, he puts them down on paper. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com. Visit: www.cadaverchristmas.com.

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