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Movie Review: District 9 Is Seriously That Good

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So a lot of you are probably wondering if District 9 is as good as all of the early hype indicates, and the answer is an absolutely resounding yes.

What is most remarkable about District 9 is the way that producer Peter Jackson (Lord Of the Rings) and director Neill Blomkamp (directing his first feature here) achieved the feat of creating the big blockbuster feel of this movie — the special effects here are absolutely amazing — with a shoestring budget of about $30 million (if reports are to be believed) and a cast of largely unknown actors.

In watching movies about how we as a civilization might react to first contact with an extraterrestrial race — from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to Contact to Independence Day — I have rarely, if ever, seen a flick that nails it right on the head the way that District 9 does.

The added bonus is the fact that while telling a great story which serves as a rather obvious metaphor for human injustices ranging from the Holocaust to Apartheid, District 9 takes you on the thrill ride of a lifetime — particularly during the latter half of the movie.

First off, let's get a few things out of the way.

District 9 is not a metaphor for Area 51, or any of the other conspiracy theories about official government contact with aliens that have found their way into modern pop culture. If anything, the internment camp for aliens at the center of this film more closely resembles the sort of ghetto slum you might find in any major U.S. city, than it does some sort of super-secret government installation.

The fact that District 9 lies in Johannesburg, South Africa — with its obvious connections to the era of apartheid — is not entirely lost either. But rather than dwell upon that connection, District 9 is a film that instead, once those comparisons are established, soon commences to kicking some serious ass.

The basic story here is that, for reasons which are never established, an alien race parked a gigantic UFO over South Africa two decades ago, and that some one million of its inhabitants (who the locals refer to somewhat disparagingly as "prawns"), have since been quarantined in an area known as District 9.

When the predictable results of the slum condition — inter-species prostitution, alien gang-bangers getting high on cat food, and the like — arise, a public outcry soon demands that someone take control of the problem.

The person put in charge of this task, a guy named Wikus van der Merwe, is largely painted early on in the film as a complete idiot, and for good reason. As the representative of a corporate entity known as MNU, Wikus, a likable enough guy who has earned this job only by virtue of his marriage to the boss's daughter, is charged with the quasi-legal duty of moving the alien "prawns" into what is more or less a concentration camp.

But when Wikus, in the course of doing his job, is infected with a virus that slowly turns him into one of the "prawns" he has been charged to protect society at large from, all hell breaks loose.

I wont spoil the details here, except to say that from there the plot involves everything from South African gang lords lusting for the power of twisting Wikus' arm right off his body, to the corporate interests of the MNU group charged with harvesting the technology of the alien weaponry.

From there, lots of shit gets blown up (and it gets blown up real good), and any human standing in the way basically gets blown to bits. The special effects here are some absolutely dazzling eye candy, especially once the alien weaponry is finally put into play. It's the sort of thing that will glue you to your seat in the theater, no matter how badly the stale popcorn demands a trip to the bathroom.

So do the good guys win? Does the alien get off the planet with his son?

I'll never tell.

Just go see it. Seriously, District 9 is that good.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • ilovemovies

    WAIT A SECOND!!! HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD??? or just lost it’s sense of a “good movie”? the acting was crap, the script was complete garbage like something from a scifi channel movie that’s on @ 2am and the plot was not good to say the least. Not to mention none of it was believable as in “that is how it would really be if this happened” . bottom line: GREAT IDEA/HORRIBLE EXECUTION. this movie SUCKED!

  • ilovemovies

    By the way, in the event that aliens visit our planet, or anywhere outside their own solar system for that matter, WE would be the “prawns”. Us, the primitive humans. District 9 sucked.

  • larry

    are you crazy man district 9 was a good movie it was like the best scifi movie i have ever seen

  • WhatISagoodmovie?

    I am still trying to figure out why this was nominated in the Oscars. I dont go techie while watching movies n scrutinize screenplay, script and cinematography but c’mon! This was a mediocre Sci – Fi with a different approach to the story (depicting racism and the like and for a change shown from the alien’s side of sentiment)Tho, if observed closely the movie switches from a documentary style to a regular movie w/o u noticing it – Smooth! but other than that … lousy aliens (reminds u of the stupid creatures in Mar Attacks – only 2010 edition), kick-ass weapons from the cartoon series – Centurions, and Dexter’s Lab mutations! And the part abt getting the fuel back? JEZZ – One guy n one alien bust up a high security building kill all the dummy ‘for killing’ cops n SWAT and get away with it? 20 years of the alien landing n a single alien n a man can do that? Why didn’t they raid? Why did they take over? Its obvious they had better tech n god-awesome guns! And there was a bloody huge flying saucer under their feet n no one noticed it 20 years back when they landed it? …
    It might be a decent sci-fi movie (which means u dont ask too many questions abt aliens, guns and hidden saucers), but an OSCAR nom? THis is nothing more than ET spoof meets Ben 10!

  • vinny

    horrible movie. just horrible.. didn’t make any sense