|Posted by Adam Krause on August 16, 2009 at 5:34 PM||comments (0)|
"There are a lot of secrets in District 9." And now, after months of those mysterious advertisements and all the positive buzz, the secret is finally out on the Peter Jackson produced sci-fi flick...and it's freakin' awesome! Even before its nationwide release this past weekend, District 9 was one of those rare films where I knew I was going to enjoy it before I even tore open my box of Milk Duds. With the movie's intriguing premise and that absolutely genius "Non-Human" marketing campaign, District 9 quickly became my must-see movie of the summer. And even though I was aware of the fact that I was going to dig this movie before I bought my ticket, I had no possible way of knowing that I would fall so madly in love with it. Never mind the fact that District 9 has quickly secured the top spot as my favorite science fiction film of all time (and I've seen some great ones), it might very well have become one of the greatest movies I've ever seen, period. Seriously, it's that good!
The film begins as sort of a mockumentary that brings viewers up to date on the film's alternate world where we learn that an alien spacecraft appeared in South Africa 28 years ago and apparently broke down right over the city of Johannesburg. With the ship suspended over the city showing no signs of life for three months, human beings decide to take it upon themselves to make their way into the ship in an attempt to make first contact. What they found was millions of malnourished members of an alien race on the verge of death. With no other choice, humans transport the extra terrestrials down to earth and move them into a squalid, overcrowded slum in the Johannesburg area that government officials call District 9, so the name of the film isn't just a clever title.
The aliens, or "prawns" as they're referred to in the film, are stranded on earth with no way of getting back to their home planet and quickly become a nuisance to the human residents of Johannesburg. The government contracts the zillion-dollar corporation Multi-National United (MNU) to relocate the 1.3 million prawns to the new but far from improved District 10. Heading the operation for MNU is the educated dimwit Wikus Van De Merwe, the film's ultimate protagonist, who believes he has the giant task under control. But after foolishly exposing himself to a biological alien chemical, Wikus's DNA becomes infused with that of the alien race's and he slowly begins to transform into a prawn. Desperate to stop the transformations, Wikus must seek refuge in District 9 where he befriends an intelligent prawn who holds the key to curing Wikus's anomalous condition.
With the orgy of unnecessary remakes, boring sequels and franchise reboots that Hollywood has been partaking in for the last few years; District 9's most refreshing attribute is the film's awe-inspiring originality. Neil Blomkamp, the director and co-writer, is simply astonishing with his feature-length debut and will no doubt be finding plenty of work in Hollywood for years to come. The 29-year-old (only three years older then me, which thoroughly bums me out) who is actually from Johannesburg, South Africa, seamlessly weaves both the documentary and traditional narrative styles of camera work together, with no apparent pattern or motivation, to create an absolute thrill ride of a movie unlike anything you have ever seen.
Now, if originality is the film's most refreshing attribute, then the story it has to tell is its most powerful. It does not take an advanced intellectual brain to realize that there are some serious political undertones to this movie. There is a specific message that this film wanted to get across, but it does so by not once preaching to the audience. Instead, it keeps everything within the confines of the sci-fi action realm by making entertainment the primary objective and let's viewers interpret the message for themselves. And the end result to this method is simply fantastic.
The characters (both human and alien) of District 9 are just one more positive element that this film has to offer. Wikus, who is played perfectly by newcomer Sharlto Copely, is a humorous office drone that you love one minute and a despicable human being that you despise the next. His prawn confidant, the aptly named Christopher Johnson, is a tough-as-nails alien who is sickened at what his people have been subjected to on earth and just wants to get him and his young son back to their home.
This movie is not War of the Worlds. It's not Independence Day. It's not like anything you've ever seen before, which is a key reason why it's so great. It takes place in a realistic world with believable situations and outcomes. It's only been two days since I saw District 9 and I am no doubt in a honeymoon period with the film. It's all I have thought about since I left the theater and I will most definitely be checking it out again shortly. I feel I've done a pretty good job on informing you just how amazing I found this movie. But who the hell am I, right? If you like smart science fiction with balls-to-the-wall action and breathtaking special effects, see District 9 and gauge an opinion for yourself. The movie will most likely go down as one of the best movies of 2009. And if you're like me, it will seriously make you reconsider your best movies of all-time list. I'm telling you, it's that good!