Review of District 9

November 2, 2009

This review is…


TAKE 1: Wow this is really sensitizing me to aliens. So, this is how the E.T. generation felt!

Near perfect CGI juxtaposed with shaky, embedded-reporter-style camerawork makes District 9 (lovingly: D-9) a cinematographic hallmark with the alien presence looking and feeling real. I heard whimpers from the crowd when the lead actor Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) was insensitively killing infantile aliens to collect souvenirs.

On my way to Broadview station on the 87A I saw a streetcar crossover and go downhill with the “Non-humans banned” D-9 advertisement flat across its belly – the red-white color combination of the billboard matching the Toronto streetcar seamlessly. This epitomizes the charisma of D-9! District 9 is an event; it is not a film alone.

D-9 sets the notion of the other (aliens) in perfect harmony with the notion of the known (humans) by creating a distance from the conventional alien movie setting (using Jo’burg as opposed to NYC or Chicago). Moreover, the introduction of a sensitized third party – aliens – makes the political statement on the other stand out vividly.

Possibly a classic of our times, District 9, will stay in the memories of moviegoers, critics, filmmakers. artists and social thoughtspeople for a long time coming. As a genre film it is the new benchmark in science fiction. D-9 with its simple plot appeals to the widest and most universal audience and might make life very difficult for B-rated sci-fi makers. The weakest point of the script is the pivot of the storyline, when Wikus mutates and gets an alien arm.  This having said, many sub-plots and sub-themes texture the film tastefully. Wikus’ character development is thorough with ups-and-downs and ranges from thoughtful and warm to cold and self-centered. The projection of his character also varies from farcical to intense and back.

TAKE 2:  What is Borat doing in a serious, thought provoking alien film with territorial allegories, which everyone is talking about?

Debutant director Neil Blomkamp makes the important choice to give the lead actor Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) a comical, thick Afrikaans accent to match his borderline comical Afrikaans name. The accent is a relief considering Wikus’ dialog-driven role. But Sharlto Copley does give away his Sacha Baron Cohen influence at times.

More importantly, Neil Blomkamp leaves well-known faces out of the film as that would have definitely spoiled the imaginative process and challenged the film’s hallmark status.

TAKE 3: This is a brilliant platform for the next big first-person-kill-em-all video game.

This production is not a film alone. It’s advertising, branding, promotional website altogether makes it a complete entertainment product. I suggest you check out to get a taste of D-9’s holistic play on reality.


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