Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DISTRICT 9 (2009)

Written By Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell

Directed By Neill Blomkamp

Where & When: Vista Theater, Los Angeles, CA , August 18, 2009 4:15PM

I don't know really what to make of the sci-fi drama, "District 9". I certainly didn't hate it but I am not sure I can say I would recommend this either. It is set in a not so distant future and twenty years prior, an alien ship is hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa. I can say I love that it is not set in obvious locations like New York or LA. Anyway, the authorities have received no contact from the spacecraft, so they send a crew to investigate. Once inside, they discover millions of aliens inside dying and malnourished. They appeared to be stuck over our planet and unable to leave.

So obviously they bring the aliens to Earth and house them in an area called District 9. The area quickly becomes an alien slum and they are segregated from humans. The aliens are called a derogatory term "prawns" since they slightly look like one. The aliens also have a strange craving for cat food.

The aliens are no longer being cooperative and humans are feeling threatened so it is decided to move the aliens to a new, more secure location. This is where Wilkus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) comes in. He works for the MNU or the Multinational United which handles security and studies the aliens. He has been assigned to get each of the 1.8 million aliens to sign a notification of relocation and get them to move to the new area which will be called District 10. While this sounds a little complicated, Wilkus is up to the task and he and his small party begin the assignment.

Wilkus and his team stops at one shack belonging to an alien with the given name Christopher Johnson and his small "child." He soon discovers an elaborate laboratory inside of the dwelling. While investigating, Wilkus finds a canister and he accidentally sprays himself in the face with a strange black fluid. He takes the can with him as evidence of Christopher's illegal activities. Wilkus soon starts to not feel well. He starts vomiting and oozing a black liquid from his nose. Wilkus doesn't take himself to see a doctor as he's sure these symptoms will pass but he soon loses consciousness and is taken to a hospital. While there, it is discovered that one of his arms has turned into an appendage like the aliens.

He is quickly whisked to a secret location in the MNU where he is studied. The scientist discover that Wilkus's body is slowly morphing into one of the aliens. They also discover that Wilkus can fire one of the powerful alien weapons with the alien half of his body which humans are unable to use. It is decided to dissect Wilkus so they can study him. Wilkus is certainly not agreeable to this plan and manages to escape the laboratory.

The police and the military are searching for Wilkus and the only place he can hide is in District 9. He finds Christopher Johnson and demands to know what was in the canister. It turns out to be fuel and the shack is actually a small space craft they have been working on for the last twenty years. The goal is to get back to their mother ship so they can leave Earth and get help for the rest of the aliens trapped on this planet. Christopher will help Wilkus reverse the alien transformation if he helps him get the fuel back from the MNU. Wilkus agrees but how will the two of them be able to get in to the armed fortress? It will require them to work together to get in, fight off the military and get out in one piece.

I have to say that this has a clever plot and for a low budget movie it is very well made. This film cannot be so simply categorized and uses elements of several genres like science fiction, horror, social commentary, comedy and documentary style film making in creating one interesting mix. This works in part thanks to the first time film maker, Neill Blomkamp who with the help of producer, Peter Jackson and his work in many short films was confident enough to throw everything in to this and he came out with a pretty strong and visually stimulating film. I am looking forward to seeing what he does with his next project.

So I think that I admire the film more than I can say I really enjoyed it but I will say yes. . . go and see it. It is better than average and you won't feel ripped off at the end. One last thing that kinda of bugged me about the film although I understand it would have complicated the story. . . If this film really happened, there is no way the rest of the world and most especially the United States would not have gotten involved in all of this. I just found the idea that South Africa was the only country making decisions in regard to the aliens unbelievable and distracting.