movie thoughts: District 9 (2009)

When you take a close look at the story at the very core of ‘District 9’, there is really nothing new there – xenophobia has been a part of our world since the dawn of time.  ‘District 9’ does what any quality science fiction film would do; it takes issues in the real world, issues we have trouble dealing with face to face, and turning it into a story we can handle and process. 

The aliens never landed.  Their ship just hovered.  When humans finally made contact, the creatures inside the ship were ill and trapped.  In an effort to help them, the aliens were transported to the ground to give them a chance to recover.  But what was supposed to be a short-term operation has now lasted 20 years, and the compound has transformed into a slum.  Tensions between the aliens and the humans have reached an all time high, and the government has decided to move them.  Wikus Van De Merwe is in charge of a taskforce to get the “signatures” of the aliens living in District 9, a legal technicality that Multi-National United (MNU) needs to get by to move the aliens to District 10.  Like most humans, he likes to think he is treating the “Prawns” the way they deserved to be treated, but once he is inside the slums and sucked into their world, he slowly begins to rethink the way he has seen this creatures.

This is an intense movie.  I know I spent the last half-hour, maybe even more, sitting on the edge of my seat, ready to cringe/hide/cry/scream/emote at the screen.  The effects were seamless and you never doubt that the aliens are living among these people. 

It’s very smart storytelling too; there is very little handholding from the writer or director.  Either you’re able to keep up with their technique, or you’ll have to watch it again on DVD – they have no time to wait for you.  It’s this great mix of “archival footage”, documentary footage, surveillance footage, and then the movie stuff mixed in.  But I never felt confused by it at all. 

Very well done and worth seeing on the big screen.  

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