Neill Blomkamp simply stuns by cleverly blending action, science fiction, and social issues in his first film, District 9.
For years filmmakers have brought forth creations that are concerned with the idea of man making first contact with aliens. Whether it be aliens seeking peace or destruction, Hollywood seems to be clinging to the obsession of humans meeting forms of unearthly life. District 9 is a brilliant science fiction film that implements social issues, creating a scenario that isn’t man vs. alien, but something a little bit more complicated.
In 1982, an alien ship appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Inside was an alien race that was suffering from malnutrition, so they are taken from their ship, and taken to a government camp called District 9. After about 20 years, much has changed, as the aliens now live in slums, a private military contractor called MNU are now in charge of policing and relocating the aliens, and the people of South Africa want the aliens off their land. MNU has assigned Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) to command the relocation of the “Prawn” (Derogatory name given to the aliens). Unfortunately for Wikus, he gets into contact with an alien substance that causes him to start transforming “prawn”, making him one of the most wanted and valuable fugitive in the world. Friendless and left with no where else to go, Wikus then hides in District 9, where he hopes to stop the transformation before it takes full effect.
The acting of Copley as Wikus is outstanding, as he cleverly portrays an ignorant bumbling, if reasonable, worker. It is evident in the first few scenes, that Wikus dislikes the aliens, but eventually grows to understand their predicament once he discovers the awful crimes that his own organization has committed towards the creatures. Wikus’s character is very interesting, and seems to grow more unique as time passes. If their is one flaw, it would be the script Copley is given. While it is solid, it seems that every second Wikus yells seem to be the F-word, almost as if he loves the verb. While the F-Bomb can be entertaining and bad-ass at times, it does get extremely annoying when used as the second word to come out of the characters mouth. Wikus calls everyone he meets an “F-er” and seems to have no regard for a persons feeling at times. In fact, that may be the reason why everyone wants to kill him.
While in most “first contact” films, the basic theme usually is man VS. alien. District 9 is a film where the protagonist and antagonist is left for speculation. The aliens do commit crimes and kill innocent people , the humans oppress the prawns, even going to the extent of eating them in hope of retaining the “power” of the extra terrestrials.
The clever use of the camera is evident in the first few scenes of the cinematic experience. Mixing documentary style footage, with security tapes, and standard third person footage, the film does a great job of making this seem like an actual event. It also adds some little touches, such as blood splashing on the camera, that give this film a very brutal, and real feel.
The action scenes also stand out, as they contain fast paced shooting, extremely cool and creative weapons, remarkable special effects, and the coolest deaths I have ever seen. Whether it be people simply blowing up, in a bloody if oddly clean way, to their arms and heads being blown up one by one in the same manner, the death scenes are gruesome, shocking, and very fun. The weapons range from your simple AK-47’s, to mecha soldiers that seem to be inspired from the gundams, leading to many battles that make Michael Bay’s work seem very uneventful.
Niell Blomkamp has done an outstanding job, as it surprises me how a filmmaker with such a small track record could create such an outstanding film. If you are looking for a film that is fun, brilliant, and provokes much post-movie discussion, than District is one that must be watched.