Movie Review: District 9

Movie Review: District 9

Summary: Aliens land in Johannesburg, South Africa over two decades ago.

Published August 14, 2009

district91Summary : Aliens land in Johannesburg, South Africa over two decades ago. They are here not to attack Earth, but refugees from another planet.  Humans must interact with the extraterrestrials, which are relegated to the slums. Chaos ensues as the aliens are evicted and a human field operative, who is managing the eviction, is infected with an alien virus.

Review : For fans of sci-fi, District 9 is a highly anticipated film. It’s the debut movie from Neill Blomkamp and presented by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings ). But, this flick falls shockingly short of sci-fi greatness. Even with its big explosions, solid special effects and campy punch lines like "alien sex," District 9 is tasteless, soulless and common.

The first five minutes seem hopeful, filmed in documentary-style, which uses real footage from Johannesburg, South Africa. I don’t mind the Cloverfield and Quarantine -style filmmaking, as long as it’s done well. In the beginning, the presentation is engaging, almost feeling like an episode of Frontline . Then, the story kicks in and all things fall apart.

Blomkamp’s take on aliens invading our planet clearly uses the blueprint for an awful time in South African history – Apartheid. It is aliens-versus-humans met with a corrupt government. The aliens even have a slur: "prawns."  However, District 9 might’ve been more effective if the racial history of South Africa wasn’t such a crutch. If the audience has a basic history of South Africa then District 9 comes across as indulgent, historically incorrect and laughable. Moreover, the movie might’ve had some life if it wasn’t for the pronounced plot holes, melodramatic acting and character choices that are ridiculously implausible. I truly wanted to enjoy it, but the spiritless script got in the way.

I am sure some will be offended by the handling of color and the racial imagery of Black Nigerians -- who are alien-eating, voodoo-practicing witchdoctors that are more uncivilized and heartless than the actual aliens. However, I wasn’t insulted; the flick was too vapid for me to be offended or even care.

Overall, with aliens that look like a crossbreed of roaches and lobsters, District 9 is a bad episode of Star Trek meets an insipid Apartheid mini-series.  This was one disappointing sci-fi spectacle.

District 9 is in the theaters today.

Written by Clay Cane

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