Friday, September 11, 2009

An Accurate Look At: "District 9"

When I first heard of District 9, I thought it was a spin-off of and/or sequel to Banlieue 13. I couldn't have been more wrong. District 9 is a science-fiction film set in South Africa, and deals with themes of segregation, dehumanization, and oppression. I would make an "I see what you did there" comment, but I'm too awestruck to try to be witty.

District 9 is probably the best film I've seen all year. Yes, it's even better than my other favourite film of the year, Inglourious Basterds, though not funny nor hilariously entertaining. District 9 is very dark, very violent, and most importantly, very, very good.

20 years prior to the beginning of the film, an alien ship arrived on Earth. The extraterrestrial behemoth occupied the skies over Johannesburg. The world waited...

But nothing happened. The ship just floated there in the air. A piece fell off, but that was it. So, the humans decided to fly up to the ship in helicopters and open it up themselves. Inside were the aliens: insect-like and vaguely humanoid, they were suffering aboard their ship.

So, the humans housed the aliens in a place called "District 9," which soon became a shanty town. The aliens were not hostile, but were treated as second-class citizens and weren't welcome in the city. Tensions between humans and aliens rose, riots broke out, etc. The humans basically just oppressed the aliens, limited their breeding, and stole their technology. Alien weaponry requires alien DNA to use them, so the humans couldn't get their hands on advanced energy weapons and the like.

One day, the humans decide to relocate the aliens from their ghetto in District 9 to a new 'housing' area called District 10, which is really just a concentration camp. Multinational Union [MNU] officers go door to door tricking the aliens into signing their eviction notices.

But a recently-promoted MNU official gets in way over his head, and soon finds himself stripped of his position, hunted by the people he worked for, and at odds against Nigerian criminals.

Poignant social commentary, District 9 brings up issues like corruption, hate, and propaganda. The aliens are bizarre shelled bipedal insect-like crustaceans, dubbed "prawns." The art design in terms of the creatures and the alien technology is fantastic. The aliens look monstrous, but have gentle eyes. Their weapons and vehicles are very futuristic and cool. And one particular piece of hardware [which I hope they make a toy of!] is just incredibly badass. The visual effects are good too, and the audio aspect of the film is terrific. The aliens' sounds and language is great - sounds effects like tubes detaching, liquids spewing, and weapons firing were excellent. The music is terrific.

District 9 is not for every one. Some might be turned away due to the subject matter, and those are probably the people who should see this movie. There is also a lot of violence and gore, plenty of cursing, some frightening images, and a handful of particularly gruesome scenes. It starts out slow as a mockumentary, moves into more disturbing territory, and features an action-packed climax.

District 9 is dark, violent, and disturbing. It will thrill you, shock you, and make you feel like shit. Thought-provoking and touching, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and strongly recommend it.

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