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District 9: An Alien Film Worth Watching

Posted on 14 August 2009 by Tim

Ever since I heard about District 9, from a preview during another film, I have been very excited to see it. I thought it looked great and the concept (and location) was unique. After I launched Talk with Tim in July, I got to thinking…I should talk to someone about the film. Luckily, I received a response! As some of you may have seen, I interviewed Nathalie Boltt about her role in District 9. She plays a sociologist named Sarah Livingstone and you’ll see her quite a bit in the film. Read my interview with Nathalie for more.

Anyway, I made it a point to make it to the opening of the film – 12:01 AM at Regal Cascade 16 in Vancouver, WA. I arrived early to the theater, bought my ticket, munched on some free popcorn and kicked back in the nearly sold-out audience to enjoy the show.

“We’re at the breaking point. People are living in fear.” – Sarah Livingstone (Nathalie Boltt)

District 9

The film starts out documentary style, introducing the main character Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) who comes off as a dipstick. Although you kind of like him ’cause he says some funny stuff, he treats the alien race – dubbed prawns – like crap, so you don’t like him too much.

The story is moving along nicely at this point but after Wikus accidentally sprays himself with an unknown alien substance. That’s when it gets crazy and the action picks up big time!

There are a couple scenes where I squirmed a bit (and I wasn’t alone) seeing and imagining the position Wikus is in. Seriously, doctors and scientists are creepy. If watching stuff blow up is your thing, there’s plenty of that in District 9! The action sequences are gnarly.

District 9 Movie Poster A couple of the prawns play a big role in the film and I ended up liking them quite a bit. The father-son dynamic was unique and made the alien “Christopher” seem more likable. Most of the prawns are portrayed as kind of dumb and aggressive. But still, I felt a bit sorry for them. Like the feeling you get when you leave the humane society…all those sad, lonely animals acting crazy because they’re caged up even though deep down you know that, under different circumstances, most of them are nice.

Not surprisingly, I quickly came to despise MNU, or Multi-National United, the for-profit outfit in charge of this cluster. Like all corporations, MNU is simply motivated by the money regardless of the moral or ethical cost. The segregation of the alien race is meant to evoke parallels to apartheid but it also reminded me of our horrible treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The Verdict: Guilty of Goodness

District 9 is a visual treat built on a strong story with deep roots. I like that it’s set in a new location. It’s not the typical New York City flick where the Statue of Liberty gets destroyed or San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge collapsing.

So far this year, this is the best movie I’ve seen in the theater. The special effects were excellent, I didn’t notice any parts where I thought, “Oh, that’s clearly CGI.” Everything looked believable. All the actors did a great job, especially Sharlto who really sold me on his character’s struggle. Neill Blomkamp’s film is way ahead of Harry Potter, Ice Age and even The International, which was surprisingly good. Other movies may have been hyped way more (think G.I. Joe), but none have delivered like District 9.

What did you think of the film? Tell me in the comments below.

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