What if we had to help aliens in a humanitarian gesture, only to be rewarded with an even more trouble than it’s worth? In the case of Johannesburg, South Africa, this strange story becomes a reality. In the early 1980s, a mysterious and enormous spaceship hovers over the city, seemingly unable to move. A private military organization, Multi-National United, explores the ship and finds a race of unhealthy aliens. MNU offers assistance and a protected living facility known as District 9. Over time, the aliens and humans begin to conflict with one another, prompting MNU to evacuate District 9 inhabitants to District 10, some 200+ km outside of Johannesburg. What happens when newly-appointed program director Wikus van Eckert begins handing out evictions is nothing short of alien. The film itself is very unique. The camera work is jerky, grainy, and distracted, much like it would be as if there was a camera crew filming the action on scene. It is almost documentary in style. The distinctive South African accent and the sprinkling in of the native Afrikaans language can be hard to decipher for the first few minutes, but you adjust and start to understand what is going on a little bit more.
District 9 itself is a breeding ground of crime, violence, and destitution. The area has become unruly and difficult to contain. Crime has spread outside its tall, concrete walls. People are constantly fighting with ‘prawns’, the derogatory name given to the aliens.
As Wikus, an average office worker at MNU gets a new assignment to go into the field and begin to deliver eviction notices to the millions of residents in District 9, which has essentially become a prison camp for the aliens.
As the evictions are handed out, Wikus comes across a clandestine lab in one of the alien’s homes. He confiscates a device that he labels as ‘dangerous’, but while he holds it in his hands, a strange black substance is sprayed on him, causing some interesting problems later.
As Wikus is affected by this strange substance, he soon learns the reality of MNU’s reason for keeping the aliens under constant control and oppression – their weaponry. The alien weapons can only be operated by aliens, and MNU wants to control the powerful devices and make them usable by humans. The weapons could make MNU even more powerful to anyone who wants to purchase such raw power. It’s corporate greed in the worst possible way.
Overall, District 9 was a fantastic film and I personally can’t wait for a sequel, which has not been formally announced but is rumored to be in production within the next two years. It was also a creative allusion to the pain and violence of apartheid in South Africa.
Platinum Squid Rating
A Fantastic, yet eerily relatable Sci-Fi movie!