District 9 (15)

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District 9

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Sep 1 2009

Science-fiction and politics used to be inextricably intertwined, with sci-fi shedding light on contemporary issues through the construction of fantastic, allegorical worlds. Blame George Lucas, blame the studio money men, but sci-fi has become a largely escapist genre: dime store romance for white males. Not that there’s anything wrong with escapism, as Neill Blomkamp demonstrates in the latter half of his debut feature, ‘District 9’. But he sets up his political agenda first, and the result pays dividends both as ideology and entertainment.

The place is present-day Johannesburg, a recognisably gritty, crime-filled metropolis on the brink of permanent collapse. But in Blomkamp’s South Africa there’s a new underclass: a race of immigrant aliens known as ‘prawns’, survivors of a dying planet searching for a new home. Our guide into this world is Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a self-satisfied middle manager for shady global corporation MNU, whose task is to contain the prawns within their hastily constructed inner city slum, District 9.

It would have been easy for Blomkamp to play the film as a straight Apartheid metaphor, a blunt but rather outdated critique of inequality. But ‘District 9’ has a more pressing and timely agenda: it’s about the legacy of that hateful regime, how its insidious influence has produced a country where the previously disenfranchised black citizenry are beginning to turn on an even more deprived social group: immigrants. And so the film becomes a portrait of cyclical segregation, with the prawns as a catch-all metaphor for displaced asylum seekers worldwide.

But ‘District 9’ is no dry socio-political treatise. The opening scenes use newsflashes, ad breaks and to-camera interviews to set up the complex backstory, but these distancing techniques fall away as our focus narrows on Wikus, who is beginning to experience grotesque bodily transformations after accidentally ingesting a mysterious alien fluid. The climactic sequences – as MNU’s hunt for the renegade Wikus causes widespread and violent disruption – eschew subtext entirely in favour of nailbiting, brain-splattering action, but it’s unlikely many viewers will begrudge Blomkamp’s decision to cut loose.

With the film’s finale – and Stateside success – leaving the stage set for a potential ‘District 10’, perhaps we’re witnessing a new dawn for politically engaged sci-fi and horror, with Blomkamp as a latter-day George Romero. Either way, this is a stunningly impressive debut.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Sep 4, 2009

Duration:

112 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:15
  • 4 star:15
  • 3 star:6
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|60
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Jason

Ignore some of the morons on here. This is an exceptional film. Highly recommended!

Jason

Ignore some of the morons on here. This is an exceptional film. Highly recommended!

Martin

A truly great sci-fi with amazing CGI, loved it. definetly one of the years best films.

Martin

A truly great sci-fi with amazing CGI, loved it. definetly one of the years best films.

Mae

Absolutely BORING! I can only describe it as a combination of the 'the blair witch project' (hand held camera angles which makes you want to vomit), 'terminator' (alien technology), and transformers (some of the fight scenes). Lame storyline and incredibly SLOW........

elfonzo bonzo

People, Watch this film!! There's a new talent on the block. his name is neill Bloomkamp and he's made a Sci-fi film that feels fresh and original. Also give the lead actor an oscar. he grounds the film with such a wonderful versatile performance. Don't watch crap like Saw 6. Watch this instead.

elfonzo bonzo

People, Watch this film!! There's a new talent on the block. his name is neill Bloomkamp and he's made a Sci-fi film that feels fresh and original. Also give the lead actor an oscar. he grounds the film with such a wonderful versatile performance. Don't watch crap like Saw 6. Watch this instead.

_Matt_1977_

A very solid, thoughtful, sensitive and entertaining film, if a mite predictable from time to time. The best of a trio I've seen recently (Pandorum, Dorian Gray, District 9). Never thought you could develop an emotional attachment to a 7 foot prawn in a waistcoat? You can.

rick

Poor Jenny. The hand-held camera made her sea-sick so she didn't bother to watch the rest of the movie. Stay away from the cinema, Jenny. (And the Time Out comment pages as well, for that matter). There are plenty of soap-operas on TV ideally suited to your short attention span. Jeesuz, how do these morons manage to dress themselves each morning?

Jenny

All the hand held camera angles made me feel seasick, I had to leave the cinema. So sit a long way away if you suffer from motion sickness. From what I saw, up to about 3/4 hour the film was pretty slow but had it s moments.

Justkirkers

Superb film. One main plot flaw. The (spectacularly powerful) alien weapons couldn't be used by humans because they were biologically activated and only worked with alien genes. So why didn't the prawns just take the weapons, storm into Joburg and just take over for gods sake instead of languishing around in District (?

Justkirkers

Superb film. One main plot flaw. The (spectacularly powerful) alien weapons couldn't be used by humans because they were biologically activated and only worked with alien genes. So why didn't the prawns just take the weapons, storm into Joburg and just take over for gods sake instead of languishing around in District (?

OlivierAime

Excellent movie, obviously flawed in some corners but a pleasure to watch with its refusal to go down the obvious routes of the '4th of July' type of movies. Best action/thriller/scifi movie in a long while.

Phil Ince

The cold-blooded industrialist was an old cliche and the wife's role seemed just to sob and 'do' guilt. I didn't get why the arms people bothered waiting for the mutant hero to operate the guns. What did they hope to gain?

Johnny Aids

I liked the bit when george bush gets willied by e.t. Rite it the tucas. tonnes of alien and rape references, my kind of flick. trontastic!

Johnny Aids

I liked the bit when george bush gets willied by e.t. Rite it the tucas. tonnes of alien and rape references, my kind of flick. trontastic!

SilverSaffa

Great movie, Sure it had the odd cliches and the occassional lapses in logic (none critical, importantly) but it was cerebral, funny (as a local, some parts are quintessential South African) and it got you capitvated from beginning to end. The technology was fresh while the bleached-light, bleak Johannesburg township experience was spot on. It took on directly major issues such as ethnicity, human greed, arms dealing, evil, Afrikaans accents and fear of hospitals. For someone who is only 29, this is a fantastic first go.

rafe Jaffrey

Netta, perhaps you are right, maybe I am being too critical, but I think I could have done better actually by focusing more on the social and political aspects of the story and not the special effects. That is where I think U.S cinema often lacks imagination and ends up producing a very "samey" product that fails to say anything original, and also at $30 million it wasn't that cheap to produce. When my daughter read my review she pointed out that the hero wasn't a policeman but a company man and she said that I had not concentrated properly while watching the film. I did like some aspects of it especially the whole evil arms industry portrayal so perhaps I should give it a second chance viewing, although I still think they should have hidden that precious liquid in a better place!

Netta

See if Jaffrey could do better,it is ,when all is said and done a low budget film I love American films with all that goes with them,but this was interestingly different.Yes there were plenty of questions,but I'd like to watch more of this guys work.

rafe Jaffrey

District has an interesting premise but ultimately the film is a failure because it does not explore or develop it's own themes well enough but relies too much on the special effects, which although very good are no substitute for a real story line. Some of it's glaring faults are: The film moves in and out of the documentary format in a way that is confusing. There are no racial tensions between different human groups, only between aliens and humans. Although the aliens seem technologically advanced they are socially completely backward and unable to organise themselves in any way. On the other hand they are not addicted to alcohol or drugs which would have been good to include as part of," the aliens are really deprived migrants" theme. The film is also very sloppy on detail. Why for example is it beyond the wit of the humans to find the missing spacecraft using ground sonar when it is only a few metres below ground? Equally why don't the aliens hide the craft in a better way and why are there no alien power struggles centred around this craft? Out of nearly two million aliens the attempt to get the hell off Earth revolves around two adults and one child: this is very silly! It takes the aliens twenty years to collect enough special liquid to power the small craft but instead of hiding it somewhere in that craft (which is hidden) they leave it in a drawer in a shack above in District 9 which they know is being raided! Come on, talk about hostage to the plot! The accusation of racism can also be leveled against the film for making the District 9 Mafia, Nigerians. Why could they have not just been generic Mafia types? The film degenerates into the ludicrous in the final scene in a showdown between our hero the policeman and the "over the top" evil military commander. Although the policeman is armed to the teeth with alien fire power and kills everyone in sight the commander alone survives and proceeds to mash up our hero calling a"halfbreed" because he is mutating into an alien. Again come on, this the torrid racist language of nineteen fifties Western films and in any case the ending is the wrong moment to be exploring themes of racism. All this is a pity because properly developed District 9 could have raised some interesting and relevant issues around migration and oppression. As it is this fails to happen and it is ultimately quite one dimensional and poor.

mato

great movie,great story,one of the best movies now.. realy pleasure to watch.

mato

great movie,great story,one of the best movies now.. realy pleasure to watch.

Jim

This film had serious generic problems. I concluded a few minutes in that it was a spoof. On those terms, it was pleasing enough. But there was some uncertainty as to whether the film actually knew it was a spoof. The premises were not inherently ridiculous. Something could've been made of them. But the aliens, their behaviour, the humans, and especially the lead actor, were all very silly. The love theme was risible. The last scene was pure brainless nonsense. There is no reason to take this film seriously ... unless on its own terms; but then it's unclear what those are.

AnitaBee

What a refreshing change. For the first twenty minutes or so, I kept thinking blimey this film's very ODD indeed. I was laughing a lot but not sure if it was supposed to be funny. As the story progressed and I got used to the style, the accents, the lack of any recognisable actor and the very un-American-ness of it, I started to really enjoy it. Initially, I couldn't believe that Wikus could pull if off as the lead character... but he did (but, boy, did he like to say 'foook' a lot)! Excellent.

AnitaBee

What a refreshing change. For the first twenty minutes or so, I kept thinking blimey this film's very ODD indeed. I was laughing a lot but not sure if it was supposed to be funny. As the story progressed and I got used to the style, the accents, the lack of any recognisable actor and the very un-American-ness of it, I started to really enjoy it. Initially, I couldn't believe that Wikus could pull if off as the lead character... but he did (but, boy, did he like to say 'foook' a lot)! Excellent.

Tony B

For a while, for a very short while, we thought, ah, at last a grown-up film, a serious subject. But what was the subject? And what was the genre? The director seems unsure as evidenced by the final (so long, so cliched, shoot-out). We couldn't wait to get out. Three stars at most, and that's being generous.

Badben

I'll go for 4 stars. I've been looking forward to this a lot, having seen it I'd have to say that it's something of a missed opportunity. I enjoyed it, the effects were seamless and well designed, the acting (particularly the physical and mental transformation of Wikus) was good, but when a film has such a compelling back-story, and so much potential comlpexity, there is more scope for asking difficult questions of it. I couldn't come up with satisfactory answers to all of these questions. The different requirements of a complex social parable and a summer blockbuster seemed to be pulling the film off kilter, it didn't seem fully to know what it wanted to be. I wanted to love this film, I only liked it which left me somewhat disappointed. I'll be catching District 10 though...

violetta

At least a million bipedal aliens with cute skinny waists end up stranded for two decades over some SA township where they are kept in isolation by a state that apparently has no interest in their culture, well being, technology or future. The aliens are a drain on resources, don't contribute more than fishy trafs to the local economy, much to the ire of the locals who want shot of them. The job is outsourced to a mega-corporation who's key intent is to move the aliens on, at least cost, to a tent city out in the bush. The aliens for some unknown reason seem to actually like the tin and cardboard shanty town they reside in and don't want eviction on any terms - then the fun starts.

nelson mandela

This is one of the longest Van de Merwe jokes ever - there's no allegory here just a clueless slope following orders. The prawns seem just as daft spending 20 years on earth probing about in rubbish tips rather than using their technology to leverage advantage from their human hosts.

The Prawn

As a prawn myself, visiting earth over the weekend, I thought that we were portrayed very negatively in the film. We do more than just eat cat food. That aside I this was an interesting attempt to present something outside of the same old, same old mainstream productions. The plot was rather lame. basically substituting prawns for blacks in the apartheid era type scenario. The alien costumes and spoken language were kinda laughable (and perhaps intentionally ) bit like slightly sophisticated Dr Who creatures (but perhaps intentionally so I think). But this together with the special effects worked in a wierd sort of comical, thriller, social commentary kind of way. I am taking the DVD back to show the prawns at home. 4 stars for daring to be different and kinda succeeding

dragster

I enjoyed this. For once a decent SF-allegory story which maintained my interest. At the start I thought that the prawn were too humanoid in concept and that the failure to explain their arrival was a total cop-out. As the film progressed it became obvious that they had to have humanoid strengths and failings to elicit character sympathy and make the allegory obvious and an overall humanoid build for the the metal-gear section at the end. My criticisms on the film making side is a general plea to avoid the continuing fad for shaki-cam, it does not add to the drama, what is it supposed to imply, that there is a news crew at the site? (so the search team around the shack has a problem locating the fugitive? look at where the boom-mike is pointing, simple!). My criticism of the plot is that the prawn had made no real plan to exploit their technology and that there were so many questions left unanswered. It must be said however that the prawn promise to return in 3 years was laboured to such an extent that perhaps things are running for a sequel in 2012. If so then I am in favour, perhaps we will find out whether it was an exploratory, prison or colonisation ship and what went wrong. As it is this film has enough going for it to become a classic, it won't be to everybody's taste but that is as it should be. As a final comment I would add that for the past year or so the fewer A list (british viewpoint) actors a film has had the more I have enjoyed them, Copley's performance works very well.

dragster

I enjoyed this. For once a decent SF-allegory story which maintained my interest. At the start I thought that the prawn were too humanoid in concept and that the failure to explain their arrival was a total cop-out. As the film progressed it became obvious that they had to have humanoid strengths and failings to elicit character sympathy and make the allegory obvious and an overall humanoid build for the the metal-gear section at the end. My criticisms on the film making side is a general plea to avoid the continuing fad for shaki-cam, it does not add to the drama, what is it supposed to imply, that there is a news crew at the site? (so the search team around the shack has a problem locating the fugitive? look at where the boom-mike is pointing, simple!). My criticism of the plot is that the prawn had made no real plan to exploit their technology and that there were so many questions left unanswered. It must be said however that the prawn promise to return in 3 years was laboured to such an extent that perhaps things are running for a sequel in 2012. If so then I am in favour, perhaps we will find out whether it was an exploratory, prison or colonisation ship and what went wrong. As it is this film has enough going for it to become a classic, it won't be to everybody's taste but that is as it should be. As a final comment I would add that for the past year or so the fewer A list (british viewpoint) actors a film has had the more I have enjoyed them, Copley's performance works very well.

Gobinder

One of the best films of the year! Great story, fantastic special effects, can't wait for the sequel! Brilliant!

Gobinder

One of the best films of the year! Great story, fantastic special effects, can't wait for the sequel! Brilliant!

usman khawaja

Holocaust comes to South africa from outer space - There is no doubt that science fiction is a genre but District 9 is more than just a science fiction as it is a moralist thriller as much as a satire on the modern news media and their narrative styles . It utilizes a starving ,exploited alien race that has been forced to take refuge in Johannesburg as their space ship runs out of fuel ,the event itself is a media haven which exploits it till every drop of news is extracted from this bewildered alien race . But the director also uses the news footage to force his message home in an intelligent way without dictating the ceremonial propaganda about racial bigotry ,though there are stereotypes here as well but they serve a purpose to eradicate the notion that aliens will exploit the humanity as cultivated in popular art until today by hollywood itself . The aliens here are guised as crustaceans with half robotic and semi-human appearances as metaphorical symbols of the species that we are currently eradicating in the name of industrialization on earth itself,and they are apparently intelligent though they are preys to the corporate greed of human lust for biological experimentation on other species in horrendous detail . The organisation responsible is named as MULTI -NATIONAL UNITED -MNU -which is rather a hilarious travesty for the obvious and it is responsible for every heinous act possible to these rather sinister but peaceful intelligent species from committing genocide to mass evictions in the name of counter terror in a tale similar to modern day palestine and creation of gitmo bay itself . The human executive responsible for this rather uncivilized act of eradication and eviction, as narrated on media as a beneficial and productive act of mercy to the alien victims ,is the whiningly diplomatic, van de merwe-a south african white male in a brilliant act which initiates guised as dark humour and ends in a seriously pensive sensitive mode with surreal overtones . he serves the prawns as the aliens are called by humanity in sheer contempt with eviction notices and accidentally becomes a contaminated victim himself in a freak accident . The narrative from here onwards is fascinating as we see themes of hypocrisy ,media blackout and administrative lies fill the screen with massacres and necrophilia which is macabre and harrowing but reminds us of what we have seen in the last decade on our television screens itself . Also merwe himself becomes a collector's item which everyone on the planet wants to harvest as a biological wonder and curiosity . This is where Bloekemp has given his movie a soul and a spirit which profoundly moves the human conscience as a rough justice is served though it still remains ironical and grey and the subtlety never gives way to ordinary mayhem despite the realistic action pieces and inventive special effects . This is a maverick director at work and the cast of the bio-mechanical aliens almost becomes human in their plight and empathy which defines the marvel of movie making as an art without any conspicuous gimmicks or megastars . The parts played by south africans and Nigerian warlords could be termed racist but since the setting is similar to Apartheid and the shanty towns of Soweto this becomes an ironical fable and the Nigerians almost become both victims and perpetrators reminiscent of the European colonists and this becomes a triumph as it avoids pushing the the obvious stereotypes in your face but rather works in your subconscious where you are strangely but strategically affected in the last half an hour in a mystical manner itself .

Dieter

I dragged my girlfriend with me to see this last night. Sci-fi is not something she is too fond off but she enjoyed this film. The alliens are the most realistic I have ever seen and because the story has a very big heart it transcends the sci-fi devide quite well. I'll definately get it on Blueray!!

Dieter

I dragged my girlfriend with me to see this last night. Sci-fi is not something she is too fond off but she enjoyed this film. The alliens are the most realistic I have ever seen and because the story has a very big heart it transcends the sci-fi devide quite well. I'll definately get it on Blueray!!

Paul C

I went with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised at a good story line and relevant use of CGI. For those who got hot under the collar about Transformers, this is a good counter-example of a film made to entertain adults rather than boys. Obvious links to The Fly but some ironic touches with the Nigerians and the local Afrikaans famed for their tolerance. An interest night out and worth seeing

Ant Man

Don't bother with this film. Laughable. South Africans turning into Aliens or Prawns at they call them...Rubbish but very funny rubbish!

Paul A

Thought this was one of the best films I've seen for a very long time. Amazing writing and acting for the lead character.

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