This is a review of the 2009 movie District 9 starring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and Luis Minnaar
Plot Summary: An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.
Me: District 9 is the debut science fiction film from South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp, and I’ve got to say he really hit a home run on his first trip to the plate, so to speak.
The Honeybee: Well, I never heard of him. But the story was really good.
Me: I bet you never heard of any of the actors either.
The Honeybee: Should I?
Me: Not unless you happen to be a fan of the South African movie scene – although as I understand it this was the big screen debut of Sharlto Copley, who played the film’s protagonist, Wikus Van Der Merwe.
The Honeybee: Gesundheit!
The Honeybee: Before you get too under-the-weather, you really should give a quick run-down of the storyline.
Me: Okay. In 1982 a gargantuan spaceship comes to rest over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa – but the expected invasion never materializes. After awhile, it becomes apparent that something is wrong and so a team of humans breaks into the apparently disabled ship and discovers a population of emaciated and stranded alien creatures. The aliens, nicknamed prawns by the humans because of their appearance, are soon thereafter put into a refugee camp in Johannesburg known as District 9, and it quickly becomes a slum-like no-man’s land similar to the Big Apple in Escape From New York. Cut to the present day, where a defense corporation known as Multi-National United (MNU) is contracted to move the alien population from District 9 to fresh new digs further from the city, and Wikus is put in charge of the forced-relocation operation. Unfortunately for Wikus, during the opening phases of the campaign he is exposed to a hazardous alien liquid.
The Honeybee: “Unfortunately?” That’s an understatement, don’t you think? That liquid ends up reacting with his own DNA!
Me: That it does. Soon after his exposure, Wikus begins undergoing a hideous Fly-like transformation. Making matters worse, MNU realizes that his transformation will give them the ability to crack the code that has previously prevented them from using the aliens super-weapons.
The Honeybee: That’s when they begin a massive manhunt to capture him.
Me: With his body gruesomely sprouting alien parts, Wikus quickly finds himself to be a human outcast. His only hope to save himself is to return to District 9 and work with the prawns on their terms. It is here, in the final 45 minutes of the film, where the movie really shines. The story becomes a gripping race against time, and is bolstered by some absolutely terrific action sequences.
The Honeybee: The visual effects were awesome!
Me: I agree. Dare I say they were right up there with Star Trek? They were so good that I find it hard to believe that this movie was made on what today is considered a shoe-string budget of only $30 million. What’s even more remarkable is that unlike most movies that have a lot of special effects, this movie actually tried to make a point.
The Honeybee: What do you mean?
Me: What do you mean, “what do you mean?”
The Honeybee: I’m sorry – am I speaking an alien tongue here? You know what I mean when I say “what do you mean.”
Me: No need to get mean. It’s pretty obvious that District 9 was a platform for political commentary regarding Apartheid using the man versus alien story line as an allegory.
The Honeybee: Unlike our last movie review for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, I’m glad you’re actually reviewing this film, but would you do me a favor?
Me: What’s that?
The Honeybee: Please don’t turn this review into an English lit class.
Me: Sorry. So, did you like District 9 or not?
The Honeybee: Weren’t you listening to me? I just told you a minute ago that I thought the story was really really good. And you are right: the special effects were awesome – especially in the last half of the movie when we saw the power behind those alien weapons.
Me: Was there anything you didn’t like about the movie?
The Honeybee: Oh yeah. I thought the story was totally unbelievable.
Me: This from somebody who can’t wait for the next Harry Potter movie.
The Honeybee: Come on. I mean really. Aliens living in a refugee camp in Africa? They want me to believe the aliens could jump 10 feet in the air but yet couldn’t escape from a refugee camp that was surrounded by a flimsy fence made of barbed wire? Please. And then what about all those crazy alien weapons: Why didn’t the prawns use them on the humans to escape and take over the world?
Me: So you liked the story even though it was unbelievable – and you enjoyed the movie anyway?
The Honeybee: Yep. I really enjoyed it! I rate District 9 “a buy.”
Me: As do I. So tell me: Does it bother you whenever you watch a Harry Potter movie that he rides a broom and can conjure up magic spells?
The Honeybee: Harry Potter is a fantasy movie. District 9 is sci-fi.
The Honeybee: Hey, don’t start getting philosophical again with me.
Me: Fine, I think we’re done here. But I wouldn’t necessarily classify District 9 as “sci-fi.”
The Honeybee: Then what would you call it?
Me: Well, since you asked, I’d classify it as “hard-core prawn.”
The Honeybee: Oh, God. You’re not going to print that are you?
Me: Not me.