For the most part, science fiction is formulaic and predictable. We go off to some far-off future place (even if it was “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way) with crazy technological spectacle and curious alien life and just . While District 9 has both technological spectacle and curious alien life, it’s anything but formulaic.
It seems very rare that sci-fi movies are also thought-provoking (unless you’re a sci-fi nerd like myself and you spend plenty of time afterwards studying the theories set forth). This particular science fiction movie feels like it could easily become science fact.
Using a great deal of social commentary, Neill Blomkamp says a lot about how we treat people (human or not) who may seem different. Setting the film in Johannesburg, South Africa, an area that is familiar with many issues similar to the segregation dealt with in D-9, Blomkamp uses some pretty amazing computer animation and documentary-style storytelling to tell the story of a rather unique alien “invasion.”
The short version, 20 years ago an alien space-ship appeared in the skies over Johannesburg and lost it’s command module. This stranded the aliens on Earth. The government eventually boarded the ship to discover a whole host of “prawns” (the derogatory term for this race) and moved them down to the surface. The “prawns” quickly began to adapt to their surroundings and mimicked most shanty-town, poverty-stricken cultures. Certain criminal elements moved in to gain access to the advanced technology the “prawns” possessed.
The shanty-town, called District 9, is governed by a company called Multinational United (MNU). The movie is the story of MNU’s efforts to evict the aliens from District 9 into the newly sanctioned “District 10” lead by MNU employee Wikus van der Merwe. A documentary crew follows Wikus and the rest of his team through their day evicting “prawns”. Along the way, we see interviews with MNU employees and specialists in various aspects of alien life.
The first half of this movie truly does have a documentary feel to it. It seems like this could actually be happening right now.
District 9 is in the same category of Blade Runner and Children of Men for emotionally-charged, thought-provoking science fiction that truly feels like it’s right around the corner from actually happening. One of the initial goals of science fiction was to show us the error of our ways by presenting a unique world-view.
District 9 delivers on that goal and is simply amazing to see.
See this movie! It’s a must.
William, the Movie Nerdfighter
who may be going to see this movie again before it leaves the theaters.