District 9 - An Unorthodox, Unique Sci-Fi Movie

                             Nowadays, very few sci-fi genre movies leaves any imprint. The sci-fi genre is especially dominated by the bloated and ear-splitting meaninglessness movies like Transformers, Resident Evil. Sci-fi movies are not just about aliens and spaceships, it's all about the way they use these devices to illustrate some greater truth. Neill Blomkamp's 'District 9' is one of those smart sci-fi movies, which also serves as a sociopolitical allegory. It is a unforgettable, monstrous fable that's consistently gripping. 

                             Preconception or prejudice is one of the loathsome disease of human mind in which we project our feelings of self-disgust, rage, alienation, and paranoia on others whom we perceive to be different. All over the world, hatred of certain humans is eating away at respect for the ideals of ethnic and religious diversity that traditionally have animated our pluralistic society. "District 9', set in South Africa, functions as a metaphor for a million South African blacks still live without basic human services, two decades after the end of apartheid. But, it's also not too hard to draw parallels with the ghettos of Nazi Germany, America's inner cities, and all of those other places where unwanted, powerless peoples have been herded off far from the backyards of the ruling class. 

       District 9 takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa, where a massive spaceship have descended from the sky and stalled there before 20 years. The ship's dwellers look like crustaceans; quickly dubbed "prawns" by wary humans, and they're shunted off to the shantytown of the title. When the film opens, there's been a wave of unrest in the refugee camp, which is a sun-scorched slum overrun with crime lords who exploit the prawns’ relatively meek nature and craving for cat food. 

                 The government reconsiders its alien policy and moves them further away from the human population to an even more remote tent camp called “District 10.” Multinational United (MNU), a massive private military contractor is hired by the government to relocate 1.8 million aliens. Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) -- a not very bright corporate lackey hose wife (Vanessa Haywood) happens to be the daughter of MNU’s cutthroat CEO -- is in charge to handle the operation. 

                 The first 30 minutes shot in documentary-style shows the arrival of MNU soldiers and Wikus to roundup the prawns for their relocation. Things doesn't go exactly as planned for Wikus, and at the end of the first day he ends up in a hospital, and that's where his personal nightmare begins. 

                South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has designed a griping sci-fi tale that accurately reflects the paranoia and xenophobia that is sweeping the globe.With the support of his mentor and producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) and co-writer Terri Tatchell, Blomkamp fills "District 9" with some of the most edgy, and most unsettling, thrills, also retaining his faux documentary style and hand-held cinematography.

Neill Blomkamp and Copley
                  Copley (who is not a professional actor) is stunning in his first film role and gives an amazingly naturalistic central performance, which very much remains us the Robert De Niro 's performance in King of Comedy. Copley gives Wikus a poignancy that somehow makes you feel for him despite everything. Wikus is transformed from a inhumane rank specimen into a tragic character, ultimately a hero, and Copley hits every note perfectly. Christopher, the giant alien (performed via motion-capture by actor Jason Cope) and his young child, who speak in subtitled clicks and grunts are as real as Wikus, and even more sympathetic. The special effects, created by WETA Workshop (co-founded by Jackson) is responsible for the movie's seamless blending of worlds. 

                  In reality, there was a District 6 in Cape Town that served the same function for human beings as this movie's District 9 does for computer-generated. The sci-fi adventures, shoot and splatter scenes somehow affect the poetical nature and fails to evoke that real tragedy, but the last image is haunting, certainly, and it makes us want to see what this filmmaker does next. To our delight, Blomkamp is now working on another sci-fi project 'Elysium', with Matt Damon and it is slated to release in March, 2013.

                "Hospitality" is the true way we come out of ourselves. Through hospitality we can turn a prejudiced world around one heart at a time. District 9 reminds the desperate need of hospitality in such a fearful and tense time. Watch District 9, because it is a clever, provocative, exciting feature film, and a movie not based on any violent video-game.


District 9 - IMDb


Amit Singh said...

It was a different experience to watch this movie. Not like other science fictions... Nice review

Arun Kumar said...

@Amit, Thanks for the comment. Yeah it's not our regular sci-fi alien movie.

SJ said...

District 9 is a fantastic sci fi artwork movie.
Thanks for this blog!!