Saw District 9 over the weekend and I loved it. It’s the best Sci-Fi film I’ve seen since the first Matrix movie. Like the Matrix it used familiar themes and took them in a different direction, and the result is something that seems unique and extraordinary. It’s stunning that this film only cost $30 million to make.
The premise is akin to the 1988 movie, Alien Nation: aliens are marooned on earth in the past in a major city. In Alien Nation, the extraterrestrials were marooned in L.A. three years prior and were humanoid. In District 9, however, the city is Johannesburg, the aliens arrived 20 years ago, and they look like giant crawfish (hence they are referred to by the derogatory name “prawns”). Plus, the prawns live in absolute squalor in a shanty town.
Newcomer Sharlto Copley plays the main character Wikus Van De Merwe, a bureaucrat from Multi-National United (MNU) which is in charge of District 9. Wikus heads a task force assigned to relocate the 1.8 million aliens (originally 1 million arrived but multiplied over the years) to a new “District 10” camp located 240 km from Johannesburg. While District 9 is a slum, District 10 is little more than a concentration camp. While Wikus goes about his mission in an inefficient and callous way, something goes horribly wrong and he becomes the subject of a harrowing man hunt.
I don’t want to give away more of the story without ruining District 9 because while there are no “twists” per se, the joy is in the journey. The movie is not predictable and the viewers won’t have a true idea where the film is going, but in the end it makes all the sense in the world. First time director Neill Blomkamp (who also co-wrote the film) has done a masterful job and hopefully audiences worldwide will enjoy it.