Movie Review: District 9 (2009)
District 9 is a film that I really liked but wish I liked more.
Produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neill Blomkamp (previously best known for his 3D animations), the film has an original and fascinating premise with a political message – aliens stranded in Johannesburg, South Africa and segregated by an apartheid government into the titular District 9 (a reference to the infamous South African ‘whites only’ District Six of 1966).
However, the film was not as political as I expected – while it may have started off that way, before long it morphed into your more typical action sci-fi film, complete with an impossible mission, robots and alien blasters.
Stylistically, the movie was also somewhat uneven. It commenced with a documentary-infused style which utilises a mixture of news footage, interviews and a ‘live’, nausea-inducing hand-held cam (which made my wife ill). It was fresh but after half-an hour of it I was beginning to get sick of it (both mentally and physically). But as the film started to become more personal and action-oriented (and for where news cameras would not have been available), it started to return to more traditional film-making and story-telling techniques. Strangely, it was at this point that I began to really enjoy the movie. Perhaps it was because characters finally started emerging and plot started moving. Regardless, it was fun.
Speaking of characters, the human actors are largely unknowns (to me anyway), and they put in credible performances. The lead actor, Sharlto Copley who plays Wikus van de Merwe, really annoyed me at the beginning but he grows on you as the film progresses.
Needless to say, the special effects were seamless. So was the make-up. I especially liked the alien design, a far cry from your slim, grey-skinned extra-terrestrial with the big black eyes. They were funny (and provided much comic relief) but human enough for audiences to relate when required.
So overall, an unusual, solid film – one that I’m likely to remember a few years from now. There were some glaring plot holes and inconsistencies, but District 9 is impressive enough in most other areas for me to recommend it.
3.5 stars out of 5!