Lex Petros: District 9

Saturday, August 22, 2009

District 9

Warning! May contain spoilers
(click on the movie poster to go to the official website)

"Technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching" says Rotten Tomatoes. I couldn't agree more. I had not been up-to-date with the ravings or critiques on the latest movies and District 9 was left on the sidelines until the day I stepped into the theater. The first ten minutes of the movie evoked a nostalgic feeling from the 80s' when "V", the sci-fi series on celestial television was playing on TV3, a story which saw the arrival of multiple flying saucers, hovering menacingly over the major cities of the world, vessels to an invading species of reptilian aliens, bent on depleting earth's resources which spelled the end of humanity. Incidentally, V will be reincarnated in a 2010 release.

The plot is simple. A 'mother ship' appeared over the skies of Johannesburg, South Africa in the early 80s. We discovered hordes of malnourished arthropod-like bi pedals which were soon after relocated to a facility known as District 9. As the years went buy, the D9 became an alien slum and the city was deluged by aliens, much like how the US perceived Mexicans at some point. As the story unfolded, you'd soon find out that at least some of these "Prawns", derogatorily referred to by humans longed for home and searched the slums to obtain a mysterious fluid capable of powering the command module which disassociated with the mother ship shortly after its arrival 20 years ago in an ambitious attempt to get home. These efforts pervaded the efforts to "relocate" the alien infestation to D10, a so-called better site for these creatures, spurned by human outcry and intolerance. The interplay between human tolerance for aliens and preservation of alien rights are clearly perceived in this movie.

My fellow blogger, Nick Leshi in his blog posting 'Top 5 Examples of Alien Bigotry' aptly surmised some of movie/TV history of alien marginalisation and the altruistic nature of humans when confronted with members of a different species.

At the heart of the movie are 2 individuals, a MNU (Mutinational United, a military contractor) field operative, Wikus Van De Merve and a compassionate and home-longing alien fondly referred to as Christopher Johnson. Wikus was tasked to serve eviction notices on 1.8 million Prawns and soon found himself a centre of attention after he was exposed to the "fluid" talked about earlier, at which point his biology begun to merge with the alien DNA. When he was discovered, he no longer was part of "us" anymore and found himself a fugitive. Apart from the fact he was becoming "alien", the MNU discovered he was capable of discharging the aliens' weaponry which were apparently bio genetically linked to the Prawns. Wikus soon became a target for vivisection and lost his right to life as a human.

Soon, it was apparent for Wikus to seek refuge in D9, the last place anyone would look for him. He forged an alliance with Christopher Johnson, whose only desire was to get the command module to reattach with the mother ship so that he could take his youngling home.

Between the storyline, there were a few good scenes. Although this film is rated R, do expect some gore and blood-splattering. I was in stitches, much to my darling's displeasure. Couldn't expect less since I conned her into watching this when she wanted a chick flick. I like the part when the MNU were incinerating a hive of baby aliens still in their cocoons, popping away like popcorn in the oven. A sadistic but hilarious way of depicting the lack of human regard for alien life.

The skirmishes at the end of the movie was just awesome. It's really fun to see them turn the slum into a warzone!

This movie caught me off guard totally. Directed by Neil Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy). This movie will make you think again about how you think you'd perceive alien presence.


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