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Science Fiction - District 9

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District 9
Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2009
112 minutes

District 9 is simply the best science fiction movie to hit the screens in my living memory. This comes from a Star Trek, Star Wars, Species, Alien fan who has read and watched more science fiction than most. My graduate work at university was in science fiction on the works of Frank Herbert in basic terms I know my SF better than the average reviewer and District 9 qualifies as a great piece of work.

From the very start of the movie we are put on a roller coaster of sympathy and disgust with both the Prawns (the term used to describe the aliens in District 9) and with the humans of Johannesburg. We meet the somewhat meek paper pusher Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) who works for the privately owned consortium MNU (Multi-National United) which also happens to specialize in weapons manufacturing.  The Prawns are aliens who have inadvertently been stranded on earth and have been corralled into a segregated shanty town called District 9. Wikus’ job is to relocate the Prawns to a new shanty town 200 kilometers outside of Johannesburg in an effort to placate the human population who see the Prawns as little more than subhuman scavengers who should leave the planet though they seem incapable of doing so.

District 9 is a complex story that deals with the impersonal greed of multinational corporation, human greed and prejudice, manufacturing consent, manufacturing scapegoats, disinformation campaigns and misunderstands. It proceeds at a brisk but easy to follow documentary style pace with a lot of hand held camera work and washed out colours.  The CGI in District 9 is as close to flawless as you will find in the movies today. The dialogue is believable and layered with foreshadowing and menace that few movies have managed to accomplish in recent years. Directed by Neill Blomkamp (who co wrote the movie) the style of the movie walks a thin line between docudrama and mainstream cinema with brilliance. From start to finish District 9 is a winner for movie goers who enjoy a good movie not just SF fans.  

Denis Bernicky

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