Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, twenty years after an alien ship arrived to hover over the city District 9 is a shanty town that has grown up to accommodate the displaced and unwanted alien population.
The film centres around Wikus Van De Merwe (Copley) a company man, married to the bosses’ daughter who is given a promotion and asked to take a team into the lawless District 9 to serve eviction notices on the alien ‘prawn’ population, a population the whole world views with distain.
After a series of events and Wikus becomes the only man capable of using the much superior alien weapons technology and therefore a huge price is placed on his head. He forms an alliance with one of the ‘prawns’ Christopher Johnson (Cope) and begins to work with him to clear his name while Johnson seeks to free his people and get help from home.
District 9 is based on a short film (Alive in Joborg) by South African born first time director Blomkamp and is produced by Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame). It is no surprise from a director who grew up in a segregated county that District 9 gives the audience a new perspective on the film concept of aliens. The aliens are segregated, hated, vilified and condemned to live the life of scavengers hunting for everything they can. They are not wanted – a displaced race, refugees, and the government just wants to move them away from the city to a new camp which to me resembled a prisoner of war camp or even a death camp, away from the city out from under the general population’s nose. After doing some research I found out this is a parallel to an actual incident in South African history when in the 1970’s over 60,000 inhabitants of an area known as District Six (in Cape Town) were forcibly removed because of the colour of their skin.
It’s a great film, there is great splatter effects when the alien weapons get fired up, cringe worthy scenes when Wikus begins to loose his nails (ouch) and also a strong (but not forced on you) story of how the ‘civilised’ population deals with displaced populations, along with good effects and believable ‘prawns’. Copley is the centre of the film, the rather cowardly Wikus unwillingly forced to take a stance and help a population he previously treated with contempt and it is surprisingly a ‘prawn’ Johnson who provides the humanity and moral compass for the film.
It’s a great debut, I can’t wait to see future offerings, I hope they are as clever and treated in a similarly unique way.
Director Neill Blomkamp
Sharlto Copley – Wikus Van De Merwe
Jason Cope – Christopher Johnson (and others)
Robert Hobbs – Ross Piennar
Vanessa Haywood – Tania Van De Merwe
Read more at: Nerve Curve