27 August 2009: District 9 review

District 9 wallpaper

On Saturday, 22 August 2009, Janice represented the Animal Rescue League of Boston as a volunteer at the “Blues and Brews” festival in Westford, Massachusetts. I met Brian W. and a friend at the AMC Framingham cineplex to screen District 9.

We enjoyed the science fiction film, which was an overt allegory about apartheid (although some viewers seem to have missed that). Sharlto Copley plays Wikus van de Merwe, a clueless employee of a government contractor managing camps for extraterrestrial refugees nicknamed “Prawns.” The abject poverty, casual racism, and enclaved middle class are all the more believable because of the South African setting. Footage of actual riots is used for some scenes.

DirectorNeill Blomkamp poses the uncomfortable question of who are the monsters — the marooned aliens or ruthless humanity? Other movies, such as Alien Nation and Enemy Mine, have warned “civilized” audiences to beware of the brutality lurking just under
our skins. The first half of District 9 plays like a documentary, while the second half is more of an action/horror flick, similar to Aliens or The Fly.

Despite a modest budget, the special effects are impressive as van de Merwe inadvertently
becomes the center of attention by the government, the news media, the Prawns, and a criminal warlord. District 9 is rated R for graphic violence. This may explain why five of the six trailers we saw before the movie were for horror flicks, with the last one inexplicably for
Where the Wild Things Are.

Producer Peter Jackson, best known of the Lord of the Rings adaptation, no doubt helped this movie get a wider release, which it deserved. I’d give District 9 an 8.5 out of 10, or an A-. Despite Hollywood’s reliance on established franchises, it’s nice to see something relatively original.

Coming soon: Gaming, work, dining out, and superheroes!