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Arhetton
20th August 09, 08:24 AM
District 9 is probably the best science fiction film to be released this year.

trailer (spoiler):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6PDlMggROA

Spoilers

The namesake of the movie is basically the refugee camp which has been set up to contain aliens which are stranded on earth when their spaceship comes to a halt above johanasburg south africa.

This is not an all out interstellar space shooter intense action movie, but rather focuses on intense action sequences that take place inside the slums of the district 9 area.

Disctrict 9 has been set up to contain the alien population. The aliens, known derogatively as 'prawns' seem to be unorganized, disruptive and incompatible with the local human population. Inseperable tension causes district 9 to be created and the main plotline of the movie is further evicting the aliens to district 10, a camp far away from nearby human civilization and the alien mothership.

http://www.blogiversity.org/blogs/cstanton/district-9-trailer.jpg

http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/geekworld/District%209%20prawn.jpg

One of the obivous themes of the movie is that of internment or refugee camps, or military occupation/oppression of ethnic groups.

The aliens seem to be disorganized and without leadership, and although they are clearly intelligent they are severly disadvantaged by their plight, also with very few political rights or representation, except by the involved human organizations. They can be violent, destructive, steal and are seen as incompatible with the local human populace, although there seems to be an internal organization within district 9 and the alien population. The local humans do not accept the alien presence.

The sprawling slum which contains the alien population becomes a nest of alien improvized technology, biological weapons and organized crime as locals attempt to manipulate and barter with the aliens for their technology.

http://www.blogiversity.org/blogs/cstanton/district9tease.jpg

http://www.wildaboutmovies.com/images_6/District9Poster_000.jpg

Political and corporate interests run the show, with the underground economy and criminal elements disrupting some of the official plans.

The protagonist of the film is a corporate yes-man who is basically promoted to his position because of nepotism. He is hard to outright dislike even though in the opening scences he displays some cruel and political tendancies - as the eventual hero of the story the character also displays some discomfort with the treatment of the aliens and empathy with some of their plight. His career has been built aroudn district 9 and he has significant understanding of the aliens compared to the other humans in the story, particularly the intolerant soldiers who wish mainly to kill the prawns because of their xenophobia.

The corporate interests (an organization known as the MNU) are in the alien technology - mainly the weaponry for some reason, although personally I felt that the interstellar spaceship would be a far more interesting prospect and worth immeasurably more than infantry based weaponry, which are the main improvisation of the aliens (handheld rifles). Their is also a strong emphasis on biotechnology, which I feel is probably more also more important above the alien small arms, with the unethical multinational conducting experiments on living and dead prawns. Having said that, the main corporate organization is an arms manufacturer - the largest on earth - so their interest in weaponry at least has some coherancy with their identity.

In the background of the story are competing political interests, expressed mainly through the 'united nations' - although if you use your head clearly this means every superpower with a stake in the fact that intergalactic extraterrestrials exist in a refugee camp in another sovereign country. Every country on the planet would have an interest in the technology and the species, and every country also has a stake in the consequences of the treatment of the prawns. Although left mostly unmentioned, this explains why the military cannot all out slaughter the prawns or perhaps even conduct experiments on the mothership - international pressure not to do so would be strong. There's no way the USA or Europe, China etc would let a south african country start an intergalactic war with an advanced civilization. So this explains why the MNU is clouded in secrecy and conducts its illegal programs underground.

The south african press also assists the local corrupt authorities by spreading propaganda and misleading reports about the true nature of district 9 and the prawns.

The movie is filmed with some ' handheld documentary' element, or as a companies 'internal training video', which is interesting and suits telling the story from Wikus (the protagonists) perspective.

During an accident evicting aliens from district 9, Wikus becomes infected with an alien biotechnological virus which is transforming his body into that of a prawn. He becomes able to use their technology which is otherwise disabled to humans. Every human organization is out to get wikus for unscrupulous purposes and he runs and hides from his contemporaries.

As the movie progresses wikus identifies less and less with his human adversaries and more with the prawns which he comes to know in district 9, one of which offers to heal him if wikus will help them return to the alien mothership to seek help for the prawns stranded on earth.


The movie is gritty and has some solid action sequences, some horrendous death scenes and is refreshingly original for its plotline, parallels with human political issues such as racism, treatment of refugees and political corruption.

Some of the things which are bizarre in the 'science fiction sense' are the similarity of the prawns to humans - two arms, two legs, two eyes, carbon based life form, DNA based life form, for some reason binary digital computers are compatible with some of the alien technology for programming their spaceship etc...

This is kind of forgivable in the sense that it does explain why they might visit earth - similiarity to their own home world, their own species or living environment, but it did seem a bit 'too human'.

Then again that could be one of the great unexplained conclusions of the film, of which their are many.

It seems that only two aliens escape earth and promise to return in 3 years time to help wikus and rescue the stranded prawns.

The alien population is growing exponentially and they are becoming a big problem for the local government. International pressure would be mounting, and tensions would be growing since the alien mothership has obviously left earth - where did it go? Will they be back? Will they declare war on humanity? etc. These questions are left hanging although the answers seem mostly to be tied to the fate of wikus, the hybrid who helped the prawns.

By the end of the film wikus appears to have fully transformed into a prawn without dying - including the transformation of his internal organs such as the heart and brain... although this is implied and not fully explicit in the last scenes of the film.

The film is obviously set up perfectly for a sequel, lets hope hollywood doesn't inject a brad pitt, or tom cruise leading star with a brittney spears female lead, and gay it up with general hollywood gayness. Fingers crossed.

Theres so much more that could be said, about the actors, the script, the content, but I feel like I've written enough and please add your own comments or review.

Personally I avoided the trailers for this movie and I didn't really know what was coming, and it was very surprising and refreshing to see a movie this good.

Also I took my mates along who are a bunch of knucklehead meatheads and they all thought it was awesome - so its being enjoyed by a wide swathe of viewers in my opinion.

If you like action movies, or you like science fiction movies, or you like humanitarian causes, you should see this movie.

Great film :)

boondock lee
20th August 09, 10:59 AM
^ Good review.

It was a well paced, great scif action film with social commentary that wasn't preachy.

Although I am a little reluctant for a sequel. It just seems good as it is and a sequel might potentially undermine the original.

danno
20th August 09, 09:33 PM
i don't want a sequel, but i'm sure there will be.

i'm going to write up a long winded rant about this movie when i get the time.

elipson
20th August 09, 09:41 PM
Some of the things which are bizarre in the 'science fiction sense' are the similarity of the prawns to humans - two arms, two legs, two eyes, carbon based life form, DNA based life form, for some reason binary digital computers are compatible with some of the alien technology for programming their spaceship etc...

I don't think its really that Bizarre (and not really a spoiler). Carbon is a very common and active element in the universe, and having two of everything I think is just evolutionary efficiency. One of stuff is not enough and three or more is a waste. You need two points of stability, two points of manipulation, two points of sight and hearing to judge depth. And I didn't see human computers interacting with the ship, but i might have missed it.


When I heard about this, i was really unsold on the concept. My exact words on the other were something like "why does humanity need an alien species to violate when we have a history full of us being assholes to other peoples?" However the movie really does an excellent job of really telling a moving story about oppression and atrocities. The movie does an awesome job of taking aliens, which are usually portrayed as scary and threatening, and making them pathetic and completely un-scary, and im sure this is intentional.

The protagonist is casted and scripted excellenty. His transformation from spineless civil servant to unlikely Rambo is believable and gradual and the actor does an awesome job in the portrayal.

There are a LOT of exploding bodies. They pop like balloons. Literally. It's pretty awesome actually.

Arhetton
20th August 09, 10:35 PM
Re: arms comment - the prawns appear to be some kind of arthropod

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthropod

actually come to think of it, the prawns did have four arms, two of them were vestigial little things embedded in their chest/abdomen.

There's nothing wrong with more than two of something, but yes things do tend to occur in even numbers and not in ones, threes, fives etc. Except for maybe your nose. And your penis. Unless theres something you're not telling us...

elipson
20th August 09, 10:56 PM
Multiple appendiges occur because you need opposing pressure to manipulate objects, multiple points of stability for movement, and multiple reference points for most senses. You could actually have two noses, but our noses aren't sensitive enough for that to matter in terms of direction finding.

I found it odd how the prawns were so easily pwned. They had superior strength, speed, and their technology seemed quite capable of blasting a hole in district 9 and finding there own way out.

partyboy
20th August 09, 11:27 PM
remember they were refugees and (supposedly) in no state to fight their way out of the system. plus it seems like only a handful of uber-tech was available, like how the command module (and its personnel) was able to disengage itself and hide for so long without any other tech/aliens being seen wielding that kind of tech. the other prawns also appeared to just be citizens (lulzy-prawns), ready to be enslaved/impounded

partyboy
20th August 09, 11:30 PM
plus... the protagonist'ss stalker stash is THE SHIT!!!

Ajamil
21st August 09, 12:42 AM
One of stuff is not enough and three or more is a waste.
This is determined by environment. Two is good for us, on Earth. Imagine a system where polar 3-D pinpointing was used, instead of two points and a rotating head. You wouldn't go with only two places on the body that have the sense of touch.


There's nothing wrong with more than two of something, but yes things do tend to occur in even numbers and not in ones, threes, fives etc. Except for maybe your nose. And your penis. Unless theres something you're not telling us...

Flowers and plant systems usually use sets of three and five.


You could actually have two noses, but our noses aren't sensitive enough for that to matter in terms of direction finding.

We have two nostrils.

danno
21st August 09, 09:40 AM
there are some movies that really grab my brain. when i walk out of the cinema the experience hasn't stopped - my footsteps sound different, sharper, clearer. the air smells different. it's almost as if the colours of things have changed, people have changed, i feel different. once that wears off, i'll still brood over the film for the next couple of days.

district 9 was one of those movies. it got me.

i'll start with the aliens. as usual, they're humanoid. and as is common in the past few years, they look like bugs and have dangly bits in their mouths. they communicate basically the same way humans do, and they make facial expressions the same way humans do. they even have sex, and do it in a similar way.

all this is fantastically improbable. and there is so much more that is pretty ridiculous, many leaps of reason. but it had to be that way. It’s the kind of sacrifice that must be afforded to art.

if the audience is to feel any empathy for these creatures, they need to be humanised. they achieved this, to the point where they're probably even more… human than the humans. especially in the charming scenes which show the interactions between a prawn father and son.

So basically, they're your typical looking aliens. but through the excellent work of the writers and animators they're quite artfully executed.

on to wikus. i'm generally pretty good at picking the lead bloke in a movie, but when i first saw him i had no idea. what an excellent job they've done. it's so refreshing to have such an imperfect protagonist, to see this story play out with him in the centre.

and he's not just a bumbling, loveable fool - he's selfish, too. wikus himself is an improbable exaggeration, but again this was necessary. he’s out there for himself, and like everyone else, is emotionally oblivious to the plight of the aliens, and does not relate to them at all despite being quite knowledgeable of how they live, breed etc.

which leads us to the central theme of the movie: humans are actually quite good at relating to, empathising with and understanding others. as long as they don't have conflicting interests. in that case, they're the enemy, they're monsters. in district 9, this is literally the case. and what would be considered injustice to one's own kind is simply par for the course against others.
and wikus, like most of us, is quite happy with that. he is a corporate pawn who seems oblivious to their suffering, interested only in career building. for someone like that, walking a mile in someone else's shoes might prove enlightening.

It’s dirty, it’s ugly, it never stops or slows down. It’s original and captivating, refreshing and thoughtful. And shit gets blown up. It’s the kind of film that just about everyone likes, and it’s going to be imitated for a very long time. so go watch it.

(btw, i reckon that the transformation scenes were inspired pretty heavily by the fly)

elipson
21st August 09, 07:07 PM
they communicate basically the same way humans do, and they make facial expressions the same way humans do. they even have sex, and do it in a similar way.

By communicate you mean by audible noises? That's not too improbable. The way they use rapid clicks is not really like human language at all... and I didn't notice the facial expressions. The sex thing was alluded to but not actually described in any meaningful way, although we saw that they procreate via eggs; nothing like people.

Minor points, but they bothered me.

The places in the movie that really stuck in my head were the interactions between father and son; Christophers reaction when he finds his friends body (and in the way he answered his son by simply saying "he's gone", it was strangely powerful yet very simple); and were Wikus tells them the tents are more like concentration camps and smaller than the sheds. For me that moment was the climax of his transformation and very memorable.

I kind of hope that in any sequel that the prawns return and put the humans into concentration camps as payback.

Doritosaurus Chex
21st August 09, 07:39 PM
A sequel set up is obvious, but I think this movie is best left as a stand alone. A cash in sequel to this will be what Book of Shadows was to the Blair Witch Project.

If there is to be a sequel, the prawns come back with diplomatic intentions. Coming back for revenge seems way too cliche. The atmosphere will have a cold-war type of tension with trust between prawns and humans being the main issue.

elipson
21st August 09, 09:10 PM
I would like the prawns to come back and forcefully remove all their people from earth. And have a motherships over several capital cities. And be broadcasting the movie "independence day" just to drive the point home.

danno
21st August 09, 10:50 PM
By communicate you mean by audible noises? That's not too improbable. The way they use rapid clicks is not really like human language at all... and I didn't notice the facial expressions. The sex thing was alluded to but not actually described in any meaningful way, although we saw that they procreate via eggs; nothing like people.

maybe audible noises aren't too improbable. they're obviously terrestrial animals that breathe similar gas on their own planet.

the facial expressions were definitely human. eyebrow movement, widening or closing of the eyes and so on. body language, too. basically they used the same expressive devices that are used to animate just about anything in modern western films.

the fact that aliens would have sex at all is a pretty big assumption, and that there are males and females.

do you remember the bit where they said inter-species prostitution was a problem? their sex acts must be pretty close to ours if that is the case.

they're so similar to life on earth that they'd have to have a common ancestor at some point in the past.

but like i said, all of this has to be ignored if you really want to enjoy the movie. suspension of disbelief has to play a part here or you won't get it.

to paraphrase one of my favourite artists - sometimes, by bending, stretching and abstracting reality, you create a concentration of reality.


The places in the movie that really stuck in my head were the interactions between father and son; Christophers reaction when he finds his friends body (and in the way he answered his son by simply saying "he's gone", it was strangely powerful yet very simple);

yeah. i really liked how he would be quite brisk with his son, telling him to shut up or stop playing when he was trying to do something important. and at other times he was so loving, obviously the kid meant the world to him.


and were Wikus tells them the tents are more like concentration camps and smaller than the sheds. For me that moment was the climax of his transformation and very memorable.

absolutely, a great moment.

danno
21st August 09, 10:51 PM
If there is to be a sequel, the prawns come back with diplomatic intentions. Coming back for revenge seems way too cliche. The atmosphere will have a cold-war type of tension with trust between prawns and humans being the main issue.

not a bad idea actually.

Ajamil
21st August 09, 11:52 PM
Saw it today. Well worth the ticket price.

Sometimes in movies my favorite parts are ones hardly anyone else catches. Aside from the horribly cynical delight in watching the egg popping scene (how enthusiastic and matter-of-fact he is about killing babies, have a souvenir!), the best part of the whole film for me was a brief audio while they were driving over to serve the "eviction notices."

"Always approach Prawns with a friendly attitude. Remember, a smile is cheaper than a bullet."

I cracked up and the people in front of me glared, at least until I threw bleach into their eyes.

resolve
22nd August 09, 12:58 AM
I was hyped to see this movie. It met and exceeded all of my expectations.

This is a film based off of a 10 minute sci-fi short film that was an artistic interpretation of apartheid. Alot of things that went down in apartheid aren't known by people outside South Africa. For an awesome reference see the movie "In My Country". Heck, even Samuel L Jackson plays a supporting role in it and doesn't feel goofy.

Actually... if they wanted to make a sequel powerful, they would do something like what happened with Apartheid with the healing and forgiveness campaign. That was some seriously powerful and real stuff.

One of the most interesting things and what I loved most about the film was the intense love between Wikus and his wife and how betrayal and all those other things works on their relationship. It was definitely a subtheme but like everything else in the movie it was well played.

I have a bunch of friends who I hang out with now who were born or raised in South Africa. I got them really hyped for this movie and I can't wait to hear what they think about it :)

OZZ
22nd August 09, 01:52 AM
Far from a typical alien movie..refreshingly different.
I liked it.

Odacon
22nd August 09, 11:22 AM
My fingers are crossed for a prequel. I'd love to know what their homeworld is like, what their ship was doing and why they were in the state they were in when they got here.

Arhetton
22nd August 09, 11:11 PM
i'm sure everyone has their ideas for the sequel :)

what if in three years, instead of an armada arriving its just christopher johnson and his son that return in a small ship? what if they abduct wikus from earth and take him to their world to act as ambassador for humanity? etc

what about the three years ' between' movies, what if wikus wife becomes obsessive and joins MNU to uncover the truth about what happened to her husband etc. What about wikus co-worker who has been arrested an impounded? What about the prawns in district 9 and 10, what about an underground resistance movement etc?

Perhaps the sequel becomes an exploration of the prawns social structure and perspective of events - especially if wikus is the protagonist again.

I'm looking forward to a sequel.

Steve
23rd August 09, 01:18 AM
Excellent film, not what I was expecting. Just like a good book, the best is left to the imagination. I hope they don't do a sequel/prequel.

BUT, if they did do one in exactly 3 years from the release date, I may consider watching it.

Ajamil
23rd August 09, 09:13 PM
BUT, if they did do one in exactly 3 years from the release date, I may consider watching it.

Didn't think of that; cool. My prediction is setup for third: Wikis leads underground movement and Christopher returns home and for some reason can't return to Earth until the end of movie.

Doritosaurus Chex
23rd August 09, 09:19 PM
Didn't think of that; cool. My prediction is setup for third: Wikis leads underground movement and Christopher returns home and for some reason can't return to Earth until the end of movie.

The reason why Christopher cannot return to earth and save his friend: Alien Bureaucracy.

Ajamil
23rd August 09, 10:40 PM
Ship breaks down, every part he needs "`s'gonna take'a bout'a three yerrs. Ta git herr."

Steve
23rd August 09, 10:44 PM
The thing is, I don't think that they could do a sequel without it turning into a giant war. And another special effects blow up movie is not what we need.

elipson
24th August 09, 02:23 AM
Wikus won't have a main part in the sequel/prequel. That story is over, its time for another story to be told. He should get a cameo, showing he gets cured eventually, but no more than that.

I think Christopher should be the main character. I'd like to see a prequel. The mothership was there for 20 years. That's a big story to tell right there. They need to tell the story of why the ship ended up there, and how things ended up getting so bad for the prawns. What happened to their leadership? Obviously Christopher was in that class, yet escaped the fate of their other leaders. Maybe he was a discharged officer?

partyboy
24th August 09, 06:28 AM
or they could just remake 'Aliens'...