Movie Review – District 9

Plot: It’s been almost thirty years since an alien race crashed landed on Earth.  Their ship is damaged making it impossible for them to return home.  They live in terrible conditions in a place called District 9 in South Africa.  When the government tries to relocate them to a new facility, something goes terribly wrong with one of the government officials.

District 9 is a damn good movie, but I think people need to calm down.  It’s not one of the greatest movies ever made.  It’s getting a little more praise than it deserves.  Make no mistake though; it is something that should be seen.  I have to admit that when I saw the trailer, I thought it was just some gimmick like The Blair Witch Project, one of my least favorite movies of all time.  “Oh, so it’s an alien movie, but shot like a documentary.  Yeah, we’ll see how this one turns out.”  Sure, I was a regular Sammy Skeptic, but I thoroughly enjoyed this.

There are only two great characters, but it’s enough.  The government official, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), is very likable at the beginning.  The movie does a great job of getting the audience on his side.  This is good because bad stuff starts to happen to this guy, but he also has some questionable actions.  Copley gives an outstanding performance here, probably the best acting I’ve seen so far this year.

Unfortunately, the human antagonists are pretty ‘meh.’  This hurt the movie a little bit.  I would have liked to have known more about the bad guys.  The other great character is Christopher Johnson (one of the aliens).  He’s one of the few aliens you get to know.  You really feel for this guy and that’s credit to the great direction.

Neil Blomkamp is the director.  This is his first movie, and boy does he have a bright future.  Some of the tension he creates had me sweating bullets.  Easily the best scene for me is when there is a huge standoff in a government building.  There are a lot of realizations about what’s been happening to some of the aliens that come to a head here and the character interaction was gut-wrenching.  It’s one of my favorite scenes so far this year.  The beginning was also great, as we watch the back and forth between the humans and aliens as they argue about being relocated was fascinating.  It was a very strong first half.

The special effects also need to be mentioned.  A lot has been said already about how good they look, and they do look really good.  The amazing part is the budget was about $30-35 million, yet they look so much better than some of the big budget movies like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  There are so many special effects these days that look like a Saturday morning cartoon, but these actually look real, dammit.  But the special effects are nothing if it’s a sub-par story, and District 9 is very strong in that area.

Unfortunately, there were some elements that bothered me.  The last third of the movie drags on forever.  This really knocked it down a few pegs.  The climax keeps going and going and going.  There are too many character twists.  Enough already, just get to the ending.  I think it was wrapped up nicely and I like the ending a lot, it just takes forever to get there.  It gets so long that it starts to feel like a ‘meh’ sci-fi action flick.  This hurt some of the tension in the end, but you still get the emotional impact you crave.

So all in all, an impressive movie, but it’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.  I think people are overrating to it because of the way it was made.  Yes, it was very original, and we’ve never seen anything like it done before, but I’m not going to give it 500 points just for that.  The Blair Witch Project was original and different too, but that movie had crappy characters and an even worse plot.  District 9 has a great story, and pretty good characters.  Definitely a must see, but let’s calm down.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

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