As usual, my reviews will contain some spoilers, but assuredly nothing that will really affect your movie experience. I still do not recommend reading the review if you have not watched the movie – I watched it without even seeing the trailer!
Peter Jackson returns to produce District 9 and what more can we expect from the man who gave us Lord of the Rings. Neill Blomkamp (originally the writer of the canceled Halo movie) bases this movie off his short film entitled Alive in Joburg. This low-budget ($30 million) film surprisingly surpasses all expectations whether low or high. It makes you wonder as to whether or not if the budget was higher, there would just be too much Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) to ruin it all (thanks, Transformers).
The symbolism of District 9 is pretty straightforward and in your face when the entire movie takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa and involves cruelty to Aliens. This reflects similar issues going on in South Africa, today. This not-so subliminal message is constant throughout the film aiding in both character and plot development.
There are a number of characters all of which you will never get to know except the main protagonist, Wikus and his alien sidekick, Christopher. Personally, Wikus never really gained my respect. Throughout the movie his image is thrown between likeable and hated until finally there is realization. However, what bothered me the most was that at the end of the movie I just never cared much for his relationship with his wife. Yes, he shouts and cries a lot about how much he wants to be with her again but that’s just it. The relationship between Christopher and his son is a lot more cared about as you see the son hopelessly pointing to the roof of the ship and calling for his father who is stuck outside – this one scene gave me a real sense of relationship. In contrast, everytime the Wikus’ wife called him I would assume she was on her father’s side trying to extract information out of him. This could possibly be attributed to poor acting of his wife but I never actually pinpointed this and it could have been the writers’ faults instead.
District 9 does a great job in making the aliens seem lovable and pitiful despite the ugliness of their exterior. This is probably due to the way their eyes are so freakin’ big (seriously). Anyway, unlike most sci-fi movies out there, this really was not what I had expected – It also allows us to look at the symbolism behind it and realize that people were/are being treated similarly in South Africa.
The plot is straightforward with minimal twists and carries our characters through several obstacles. There is always suspense as we are accommodated to movies these days (where it is possible for anyone to die) and thus we continue to wonder who will survive throughout the movie. There are many times where the impossible is presented so well that the audience too believe this – This is when the writers do well and show how the characters get around these obstacles.
Although many other reviewers question the aliens’ fuel’s DNA rewriting, I do not – It is unexplainable but still believable. For us to compare their fuel with human’s petrol is like comparing Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker (fail joke). Just taking into consideration that if they can fly to Earth and we cannot fly there, obviously our fuel is nowhere near the technological level as the aliens’ fuel.
The CGI is constantly of great quality. It has not been overdone to more than meets the eye and is enough for the audience to fully engage with the sequences. Christopher’s facial expressions are easily read (thanks to those big eyes!) and we are treated to the special effects of several jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, drool-making, eye-opening, rib-tickling, heart-stopping weapons that really should have had their own movie made about them. The documentary-style was effective in allowing the audience to realize the proportions of these aliens and also the ideas and perspectives of different parties about them.
I can confidently say that District 9 is probably the best sci-fi action film out this year. Although there were some character development issues, the movie does well as a whole.
Below is the short film, Alive in Joburg that District 9 was based off. Enjoy!