Saturday, January 30, 2010


DISTRICT 9's debut on DVD has been highly anticipated by sci-fi fans for months ever since the movie debuted in theaters back in mid-August. And it's well worth the wait. This very unique science fiction drama is shot largely like a news documentary in many ways, where a giant space craft of one million insect-like outer space aliens breaks down and hovers over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. There is never any attack on Earth by the aliens, yet they appear as a giant cost and social problem for the people of South Africa. Both the world community and a corrupt weapons technology company vie for how to deal with the aliens as well.

The aliens soon find themselves rounded up in camp very similar to the Warsaw ghetto of the Nazi era, where they live in extreme poverty in terrible conditions. And the aliens love of cat food only leaves them exploited by small-time ripoff merchants and other traders. In many ways, the film is a very intelligent look at the evils of racism and racial discrimination. Interestingly, it is also the Black residents of South Africa who mistreat the aliens as well, where they become the new underclass in this society. In many ways, the film seems to be greatly inspired by the difficult times that once took place in Cape Town during the worst days of apartheid. The aliens are even negatively referred to as "prawns" by the residents, which becomes a new sort of species slur.

Some might say that this film is merely a rip-off of ALIEN NATION. Yet this story goes in unique directions, and has much to say about the terrible apartheid era of South Africa. The special effects are very good as well for a film with a mere $30 million dollar budget. The film returned more than $205 on that investment worldwide.

The movie isn't perfect, though. And some critics like Roger Ebert felt rather unfulfilled by the movie's "third act". And the movie has some other critics for sure. But overall, the film does what a great sci-fi classic really needs to do; it established an intelligent storyline that spurs the viewer to think. And the film more than succeeds on that level.

The bottom line: DISTRICT 9 is very intelligent film on many levels, but perhaps not as great of a film as THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL or other top-tier sci fi classics by any means. +++(three stars out of four)


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