Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.
Is it good movie?
I admit, I thought that this movie suffered from a little too much hype. All I heard was that it was the greatest movie ever and that I needed to see it right away. So, I will admit that while I'm not one of the ZOMG DISTRIK 9 4 LYFE guys, that doesn't mean that this isn't an excellent film that's worth your time. The first part of the film plays a bit like a dramatic and comedic mockumentary, while the second half becomes a nail-biting thriller.
It all has a pretty distinct message and a relatively simple plot- aliens are treated like scum. They're not evil monsters but helpless creatures who are poor, lonely and frightened due to being essentially stranded on our planet. We set up these big, filthy camps, give aliens stupid human names and watch as they become a colony of violence among themselves. Then, a stupid government agent bumbles around and gets sprayed by alien technology, which slowly turns him into one of the 'prawns'.
The plot is the reason why District 9 works. Most "Sci-fi" movies these days have no plot and are just about things blowing up in space. District 9 is smart because there's a lot of great action, but it serves to further the story. This flick does what any good zombie movie or sci-fi movie should do- it turns things back on us, forcing us to look at ourselves. Adding in the dude who gets turned into an alien and his realistic plight is sheer brilliance, as it forces us to be empathetic where we may have been pig-headed without him.
This is a movie that will definitely keep you watching. From the outset when the dude gets sprayed with the weapon, you know things are going down in a bad way. The government chase scenes, the brutality between the prawns and the alien weaponry are all things that just glue you to the seat. There's a lot of action and the scenes are extraordinarily well filmed for a flick that was made with such a low budget.
District 9 is simply a unique film that once again shows casual audiences that creativity and originality are not completely dead and can still make a difference.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 1.85.1 widescreen and looks really good. The lighting is great and the effects come through great on DVD.
Audio design is great too, with the 5.1 mix showcasing sound effects and dialogue really well.
First up are some deleted scenes, about 25 minutes worth which were pretty informative but would have drug the movie out a bit. My favorite was the bit about how the prawns reproduce!
There's also a 35 minute documentary called The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker's Log and it's great stuff, with honest and candid interviews with the cast and crew. I don't usually like fluff pieces like this, but this is better than most.
Neill Blomkamp also shows up for a commentary track which is great- the guy goes into good amounts of detail about the various levels the film can be taken on and his experiences in South Africa.
District 9 is one of the better films of 2009 and can be taken on several levels. It's got action, laughs and enough drama to keep you interested. What are you waiting for?