The Honest review of Neill Blomkamp District 9. The film focuses on the encounters between a group of alien refugees. The ship arrived in the skies above Johannesburg over 20 years ago. Wikus van der Merwe the local friendly bureaucrat then becomes the center of the story. As a film crew follows and document him throughout his day, events happen to change his life forever. 15 cert, 118 min. Dir Neill Blomkamp; starring Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope.
It is over twenty years since the aliens, cockroach-like creatures nicknamed the “The Prawns”, landed. Since then, the area they settled in has become an inner-city ghetto. The powers that be have decided to relocate all the aliens to a new camp outside the city. A local bureaucrat named Wikus van der Merwe played by Sharlto Copley, has been appointed by whose MNU to ensure the operation goes as smoothly as possible.
The opening 30 minutes of the movie follow Wikus as he and a travelling film crew document the process of handing out eviction notices to the shack dwelling “Prawns”. These encounters can go smoothly but can also end badly as the police escorts tend to be quite trigger happy. More than one of the aliens end up splattered against the walls. The rawness of the camera work and the matter of fact way procedures are followed are an obvious hint at the politics of the movie. The simple message of the treatment of refugees around the world and Africa.
It is during Wikus’s work that we stumble upon Christopher, played by Jason Cope. He is a clever alien who is in the process of constructing a means to escape and return home when his plan is discovered by Wikus. However, during a routine eviction Wikus gets sprayed with an alien liquid and slowly begins to transform into one of the creatures. The film crew then follow Wikus as he deals with the fact that his transformation will take away everything he has.
The outstanding performance in this film is undoubtedly Wikus, played by Sharlto Copley. He begins as the weak nerdy bureaucrat who just wants to do his job.
Watching as he descends into the life of the alien “Prawns” he shows every emotion you can think of. His relationship with his wife also displays him at his best and the sadness of the loss of his previous life is excellent.
Here come the Prawns.
The direction by Blomkamp is excellent. He manages to create an entertaining sci-fi film and push his political message. The use of humor is expertly handled and because of that it makes the film a lot more enjoyable. The sets are very convincing. The shacks and the look of the ghetto show the conditions that the aliens now must face.
The Effects are handled expertly and while this is not a large budget movie, they are convincing and help set the tone. The exposition is kept to the minimum required and the dialogue mix’s the humour and the message perfectly.
The cinematographer Trent Opaloch and the dazzling special-effects crew creates the aliens with detail and believability. They are freaky and alien looking but also possess the character that aliens rarely receive on the screen. The sound editing is excellent too. in particular, the level of detail and the realistic voices of the “Prawns” impressing.
In conclusion, I would recommend this film highly. While there are some flaws in the narrative and some of the scenes are a little contrived, there is much to admire here.
Much of the appeal of this film centres around the social commentary and because the theme of the film is executed perfectly. In particular, the use of the documentary film crew to chart the everyday problems of the “Prawns”.
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