District 9


(out of 5)

A giant spaceship from another planet flies to Earth, stops above the city of Johannesburg and remains there for months without event. When soldiers finally break into it and meet its inhabitants, they find a large population of sickly, starving aliens who are quickly move to a fenced-in compound on the surface which becomes, in no time, a crime-ridden slum. It eventually becomes necessary to destroy the cesspool of a neighbourhood that these “prawns” (the aliens resemble shellfish) live in and move them to a new one, which is the job that bright and dedicated office worker Wikus Van De Merwe () has been assigned to oversee. Unfortunately, his time behind the wires doesn’t go as planned and our protagonist finds himself getting much more than he bargained for out of this sudden promotion. After years of treating these creatures as second-class citizens, Wikus is given a terrifying glimpse of life on the other side. Neill Blomkamp’s debut feature, adapted from his own short, is not in any way subtle with its Apartheid allegory, but it is a reminder that, even years after the Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearings, there is still a severe disparity between privilege and need in South Africa (not to mention the continent or, for that matter, the world). Obvious as it is, however, this ultraviolent film, which will not suit all tastes, doesn’t feel like a lecture in politics because the effects are fantastic (they never even look like effects) and the acting is superb. Most of it is shot like a news documentary and, for the most part, it feels genuine, making the science-fiction elements that much more effective both in their sense of wonder and creepiness.

TriStar Pictures, Block / Hanson, WingNut Films, Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, Covert Media, Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa, District 9, Majority Entertainment, New Zealand Post Digital and Visual Effects Grant, Province of British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit

USA/New Zealand, 2009

Directed by 

Screenplay by Neill Blomkamp,

Cinematography by

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by 

Film Editing by

Academy Awards 2009

Boston Film Critics Awards 2009.  

Golden Globe Awards 2009

National Board of Review Awards 2009.  

Online Film Critics Awards 2009.   

Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2009.

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