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The Anatomy of ‘District 9′ – Eric’s review

by Eric Melin on August 14, 2009

in Print Reviews,Reviews

Neill Blomkamp‘s feature-length directorial debut does what really good science fiction does—it makes you think about the world you live in.

It also does what mainstream crowd-pleasing sci-fi does and entertains with a lot of well-designed action scenes and classic Hollywood tropes.

Using a stranded and impoverished alien race as a stand-in for the apartheid world that he grew up in in South Africa, Blomkamp (who co-wrote the film with Terri Tatchell) fills “District 9″ full of real-world parallels.

But what starts out as a heavy-handed—if not very clever—social lesson (under the guise of a film cobbled together by news cameras and TV reports) ends up a rousing chase picture with some unexpected emotional twists and turns.

I’ve attached a slideshow that I made minutes after watching the movie last week as a tribute to its influences. I tried not to get too specific, but as I was watching the movie, there were moments that reminded me very much of other iconic scenes.

To his credit, Blomkamp (who expanded the movie from his 2005 short “Alive in Joburg”) reappropriates these old ideas to make something new and fresh.

I’ve always admired how “Cloverfield” used it’s single-camera storytelling device as a way to cut back on budget and employ the less-is-more approach to special effects, but keeping all the action confined to one single viewpoint was sometimes quite limiting (not to mention hard to stomach, thanks to a huge amount of shaky-cam).

“District 9″ grounds us in the reality that aliens have lived among humans in Johannesburg, South Africa for 20 years. They are confined to a makeshift slum that bears the movie’s title and are treated with open derision and hatred—their shrimp-like features earning them the nickname “prawns.”

district 9 2009From this simple high-concept premise, Blomkamp starts to tweak things just slightly. Our hero is a bureaucrat named Wikus van der Merwe (played by Blomkamp’s childhood friend Sharlto Copley), who heads up a mission to evacuate the aliens to another camp. It’s a big performance for Copley, whose character undergoes a physical and mental readjustment that will drastically change his life in a matter of days.

There are powerful images of black people calling for the segregation and elimination of the prawns throughout the movie. There is a kind of lost hopelessness that permeates these early scenes—mostly shot by “news cameras”—and everyone who is interviewed is talking about Wikus as if we already know what happened to him. This creates a sense of dread and mystery that lasts throughout the movie.

The script takes swipes at the military and the government and the cinematography—some of it washed out in a blur of simulated VHS—enhances the reality and smooths out the CGI so it blends seamlessly.

Aaron Weber from Transbuddha has an expanded rave review here, while contributor Trey Hock offers a counterpoint here. Check them both out for more takes on this fascinating movie.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Trey August 14, 2009 at 10:23 am

I just wanted to leave a comment so I can follow the discussion.

Reply

2 Trey August 14, 2009 at 10:23 am

I just wanted to leave a comment so I can follow the discussion.

Reply

3 RCM August 15, 2009 at 1:06 am

Okay, I just got back from this and I’m really conflicted. It was close, but I think that I’m going to say no to “District 9″. Your almost right Eric, it would fall in line with a long list of fantastic B movie-type productions like “Starship Trooper” and “Day of the Dead” if there weren’t too many parts throughout where I felt like it was asking me to take it too seriously. Not always, sometimes it knew exactly what it was and what it should ask of it’s audience (the humorous, gratuitous violence and great action) and then other times when it actually seemed to think that the obvious, prosaic “critiques” of our culture where some kind of truly challenging, sociopolitical interpretation that should be pondered on like some legitimate form of academic expression. And what’s worse, tons of people will want to indulge this movie in being just that. The thing about films like “Starship Troopers” is that they can make their amusing, manipulative, metaphorical critiques without ever being insulting since they don’t for one second ask you to over-think them. There were parts I really liked, but the execution was just a little off. Normally that could be forgiven, but not when the initial concept is this high and absurd.

Reply

4 RCM August 15, 2009 at 1:06 am

Okay, I just got back from this and I’m really conflicted. It was close, but I think that I’m going to say no to “District 9″. Your almost right Eric, it would fall in line with a long list of fantastic B movie-type productions like “Starship Trooper” and “Day of the Dead” if there weren’t too many parts throughout where I felt like it was asking me to take it too seriously. Not always, sometimes it knew exactly what it was and what it should ask of it’s audience (the humorous, gratuitous violence and great action) and then other times when it actually seemed to think that the obvious, prosaic “critiques” of our culture where some kind of truly challenging, sociopolitical interpretation that should be pondered on like some legitimate form of academic expression. And what’s worse, tons of people will want to indulge this movie in being just that. The thing about films like “Starship Troopers” is that they can make their amusing, manipulative, metaphorical critiques without ever being insulting since they don’t for one second ask you to over-think them. There were parts I really liked, but the execution was just a little off. Normally that could be forgiven, but not when the initial concept is this high and absurd.

Reply

5 finley August 15, 2009 at 1:47 pm

it was crap

Reply

6 finley August 15, 2009 at 1:47 pm

it was crap

Reply

7 Eric Melin August 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm

RCM- “Starship Troopers”’s “amusing, manipulative, metaphorical critiques” DO work, but it has nothing to do with the fact that Verhoeven isn’t asking us to over-think them. The audience is free to take in the subtext or leave it alone and see another hollow 90210 action spectacle. If they settle for that, they are only using 1/2 of their brain.

“D9″ worked without being a parody. Although I agree it was heavy-handed at first, and it did switch to a more Hollywood style of storytelling in the 2nd half, it never abandoned its convictions from the opening socio-political parallels. In fact, it wove them subtly into the action plot. (Wikus acts selfishly, his wife abandons him, etc.) I think for many people that came down on the negative side of this movie that maybe the second half seemed too cliche. Watch it again and notice how just as many cliches are subverted as they are being embraced.

Reply

8 Eric Melin August 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm

RCM- “Starship Troopers”’s “amusing, manipulative, metaphorical critiques” DO work, but it has nothing to do with the fact that Verhoeven isn’t asking us to over-think them. The audience is free to take in the subtext or leave it alone and see another hollow 90210 action spectacle. If they settle for that, they are only using 1/2 of their brain.

“D9″ worked without being a parody. Although I agree it was heavy-handed at first, and it did switch to a more Hollywood style of storytelling in the 2nd half, it never abandoned its convictions from the opening socio-political parallels. In fact, it wove them subtly into the action plot. (Wikus acts selfishly, his wife abandons him, etc.) I think for many people that came down on the negative side of this movie that maybe the second half seemed too cliche. Watch it again and notice how just as many cliches are subverted as they are being embraced.

Reply

9 David Bruce Murray August 20, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I found myself comparing this to films ranging from _Cloverfield_ to _Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen_ for various reasons…and I preferred _District 9_ considerably over those films.

I did find a few aspects of the film to be annoying, but by and large, I liked a lot more than I disliked.

I liked the fact that the aliens were on the screen at the beginning of the film. It wasn’t 60 minutes of tease up front before we got to see the creatures. This was necessary, I think, because the viewers are naturally disgusted by the appearance of these creatures at first. The only way to build sympathy for them was to introduce them early.

The mech warrior fight made the stuff in Transformers look absolutely pathetic.

I liked the ending…a satisfying conclusion, but with a few loose ends…and not so obviously advertising the possibility of a sequel…just an ending that resembles what could have happened if this were all real.

I didn’t like the attempt they made to keep the documentary element going. It was fine for the opening scenes, but it lasted a little too long.

The whole parallel with real life…people being abused due to race, etc…helped this film, in my opinion. The director wasn’t overly preachy with his message…not to the degree of, say, _Blood Diamond_. It was more a film that said, “Here’s what the majority of culture does with what they find to be disgusting. Make of it what you will.”

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10 David Bruce Murray August 20, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I found myself comparing this to films ranging from _Cloverfield_ to _Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen_ for various reasons…and I preferred _District 9_ considerably over those films.

I did find a few aspects of the film to be annoying, but by and large, I liked a lot more than I disliked.

I liked the fact that the aliens were on the screen at the beginning of the film. It wasn’t 60 minutes of tease up front before we got to see the creatures. This was necessary, I think, because the viewers are naturally disgusted by the appearance of these creatures at first. The only way to build sympathy for them was to introduce them early.

The mech warrior fight made the stuff in Transformers look absolutely pathetic.

I liked the ending…a satisfying conclusion, but with a few loose ends…and not so obviously advertising the possibility of a sequel…just an ending that resembles what could have happened if this were all real.

I didn’t like the attempt they made to keep the documentary element going. It was fine for the opening scenes, but it lasted a little too long.

The whole parallel with real life…people being abused due to race, etc…helped this film, in my opinion. The director wasn’t overly preachy with his message…not to the degree of, say, _Blood Diamond_. It was more a film that said, “Here’s what the majority of culture does with what they find to be disgusting. Make of it what you will.”

Reply

11 Xavier August 24, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I don’t think it was as bad as trey makes out but I’m leaning towards his view of district 9. For me I didn’t see too many typical hollywood conventions being subverted and the mix of things that were original and interesting and things that were so typical and rehashed was not a good mix. I think it was struggling to decide whether it wanted to be an intelligent, thought-provoking, story of how humanity treats foreigners or if it just wanted to be a fun action film with cool aliens, and again the mix of the two was not good. I did love the visual style and aliens etc, but I think I would prefer to see Neill Blomkamp direct something other than something he wrote as I found the storyline poor and fairly typical and the dialogue in some points almost cringe-worthy.

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12 Xavier August 24, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I don’t think it was as bad as trey makes out but I’m leaning towards his view of district 9. For me I didn’t see too many typical hollywood conventions being subverted and the mix of things that were original and interesting and things that were so typical and rehashed was not a good mix. I think it was struggling to decide whether it wanted to be an intelligent, thought-provoking, story of how humanity treats foreigners or if it just wanted to be a fun action film with cool aliens, and again the mix of the two was not good. I did love the visual style and aliens etc, but I think I would prefer to see Neill Blomkamp direct something other than something he wrote as I found the storyline poor and fairly typical and the dialogue in some points almost cringe-worthy.

Reply

13 S. Wolf August 24, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Your reviewer must have seen a different version of DISTRICT 9 than I did, because the one I saw made no sense whatsoever.

I know, it’s a take on the evils of Apartheid. Apartheid = bad. I get that.

But we’re expected to believe that intelligent aliens possessed of interstellar and other technologies would just be herded into ghettos and left to rot? Ridiculous!

We’re expected to believe the U.N/Americans/Russians/Chinese wouldn’t have at least a huge presence on board that alien ship? Nonsense.

We’re expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

We’re expected to believe that, at the end, they shoot down the shuttle with ease, yet appear to forget they’ve done it as they don’t attempt to do so again when it starts to limp up to the main vessel — in spite of all the TV cameras reporting this is happening. What? No one in command is paying attention? Good Grief.

We’re expected to believe this company (where’s the real army?!) stores alien weapons of possibly enormous destructive capabilities in a DOWNTOWN building? With no more security than a few rent-a-cops? Say what?!?!

We’re expected to believe that the city has had this enormous vessel hanging over it for TWENTY YEARS yet no one has had the brains to think that, just maybe, at some point the batteries will run down in the thing and it’ll faww down, go BOOM? I know I’d move my business out from under. Yet these people don’t think this might be a good idea? This redefines stupidity.

I could go on, but this should suffice to show how unbelievable it is that the same man who gave us the beautifully crafted LORD OF THE RINGS adaptations is guilty of this piece of crap.

Reply

14 S. Wolf August 24, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Your reviewer must have seen a different version of DISTRICT 9 than I did, because the one I saw made no sense whatsoever.

I know, it’s a take on the evils of Apartheid. Apartheid = bad. I get that.

But we’re expected to believe that intelligent aliens possessed of interstellar and other technologies would just be herded into ghettos and left to rot? Ridiculous!

We’re expected to believe the U.N/Americans/Russians/Chinese wouldn’t have at least a huge presence on board that alien ship? Nonsense.

We’re expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

We’re expected to believe that, at the end, they shoot down the shuttle with ease, yet appear to forget they’ve done it as they don’t attempt to do so again when it starts to limp up to the main vessel — in spite of all the TV cameras reporting this is happening. What? No one in command is paying attention? Good Grief.

We’re expected to believe this company (where’s the real army?!) stores alien weapons of possibly enormous destructive capabilities in a DOWNTOWN building? With no more security than a few rent-a-cops? Say what?!?!

We’re expected to believe that the city has had this enormous vessel hanging over it for TWENTY YEARS yet no one has had the brains to think that, just maybe, at some point the batteries will run down in the thing and it’ll faww down, go BOOM? I know I’d move my business out from under. Yet these people don’t think this might be a good idea? This redefines stupidity.

I could go on, but this should suffice to show how unbelievable it is that the same man who gave us the beautifully crafted LORD OF THE RINGS adaptations is guilty of this piece of crap.

Reply

15 Eric Melin August 24, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Xavier- A perfect example for me of how the film avoided or subverted cliche is the development of the love story. Unlike most movies, it took up about 5 minutes of screen time and was more deeply felt because of it. The final kiss-off was heartbreaking.

S. Wolf- I agree that good sci-fi has to make enough (good, common) sense to work, but I think you are being making too much out of little details that are really extraneous to the theme. For this to work as an allegory, it requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’re missing out on a rare chance to engage the right side of your brain. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Reply

16 Eric Melin August 24, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Xavier- A perfect example for me of how the film avoided or subverted cliche is the development of the love story. Unlike most movies, it took up about 5 minutes of screen time and was more deeply felt because of it. The final kiss-off was heartbreaking.

S. Wolf- I agree that good sci-fi has to make enough (good, common) sense to work, but I think you are being making too much out of little details that are really extraneous to the theme. For this to work as an allegory, it requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’re missing out on a rare chance to engage the right side of your brain. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Reply

17 Trey August 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

Eric,

I gotta back up S. Wolf a bit, Eric.

“I think you are being making too much out of little details that are really extraneous to the theme. For this to work as an allegory, it requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’re missing out on a rare chance to engage the right side of your brain.”

You’re right. Suspension of disbelief is necessary, and getting bogged down in the details will ruin almost any movie going experience, but I think you and many are missing S. Wolf’s point. This film makes it very difficult to let go, because of all the things that don’t make sense or don’t work.

To put a fine point on this I will reference the best action/sci-fi movie of the summer, Star Trek. If we nit pick this film, we can break it. Red Matter? Time travel? Meeting one’s older self? What the f**k? But I didn’t care. Why? Because Star Trek was a great action film that coupled well developed characters, with an interesting and pretty well developed story, and with stunning action sequences.

D9 is like a cell phone/web browser/digital camera–mobile device. It gives you a lot of different things, but it’s each of those things is mediocre to terrible, and there is a device (film) out there that takes each one of those things individually and does it really well.

This could have been a great funny, chophouse gorefest. It wasn’t.

This could have been an interesting political thriller. Not that.

This could have been gripping personal drama. Nope.

It tried to be all of these things and failed to a large extent at all of them.

And the love story was a yawn worthy aside, not a gripping, touching personal moment. Can you really back up the overly cliched ending of Wickus making trash flowers on the trash pile? Really? The most tacked on “touching” ending I have seen all year. Heartbreaking? Yes, perhaps, but only because it was greenlit by the production company.

Reply

18 Trey August 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

Eric,

I gotta back up S. Wolf a bit, Eric.

“I think you are being making too much out of little details that are really extraneous to the theme. For this to work as an allegory, it requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. If you’re not willing to do that, then you’re missing out on a rare chance to engage the right side of your brain.”

You’re right. Suspension of disbelief is necessary, and getting bogged down in the details will ruin almost any movie going experience, but I think you and many are missing S. Wolf’s point. This film makes it very difficult to let go, because of all the things that don’t make sense or don’t work.

To put a fine point on this I will reference the best action/sci-fi movie of the summer, Star Trek. If we nit pick this film, we can break it. Red Matter? Time travel? Meeting one’s older self? What the f**k? But I didn’t care. Why? Because Star Trek was a great action film that coupled well developed characters, with an interesting and pretty well developed story, and with stunning action sequences.

D9 is like a cell phone/web browser/digital camera–mobile device. It gives you a lot of different things, but it’s each of those things is mediocre to terrible, and there is a device (film) out there that takes each one of those things individually and does it really well.

This could have been a great funny, chophouse gorefest. It wasn’t.

This could have been an interesting political thriller. Not that.

This could have been gripping personal drama. Nope.

It tried to be all of these things and failed to a large extent at all of them.

And the love story was a yawn worthy aside, not a gripping, touching personal moment. Can you really back up the overly cliched ending of Wickus making trash flowers on the trash pile? Really? The most tacked on “touching” ending I have seen all year. Heartbreaking? Yes, perhaps, but only because it was greenlit by the production company.

Reply

19 Joe34 August 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm

s.wolf
Almost all the grips you had with the movies plot are were kind of explained or not really all that hard to rationalize. Here’s how I though of it.

we’re expected to believe that intelligent aliens possessed of interstellar and other technologies would just be herded into ghettos and left to rot? Ridiculous!

They go out of their way to explain that only a few of the aliens are from the command module that dropped off and later one of these remaining commander s and his son try to fly back to the ship. The rest of them are not exactly, scientists, engineer s, pilots ect but genetically engineered workers or grunt level solders. It’s not hard to believe an alien race that appears to have been practicing genetic based manipulation and bio technology could have bred and been transporting a dumb worker class with a skeleton crew.

We’re expected to believe the U.N/Americans/Russians/Chinese wouldn’t have at least a huge presence on board that alien ship? Nonsense.

The ship was not in international air space and they only show a brief clip of the first UN team to board it then fast forward 20 years later so who says the US didn’t send experts there to study it. When you see a UFO crashed in the US type movie do you ask hey where are the Chinese ? Given that it was a burden not a boon and no one wanted to have to deal with them once it was determined that they were dumb as rocks and their guns not usable it seems passable that other countries grabbed a some prototypes to experiment on via the black market and then after a decade said yeah those two million roach like aliens, that’s all you.

We’re expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

Not foreign warlords , this is set in South Africa. If they were foreign where would they be from Canada ? Yeah war lords in the rural parts of some third world country running around with guns doing things that should be illegal, that could never happen. You’d think it was supposed to be shot in parts of south Africa or something..oh wait a minute. Besides those energy weapons were banned and humans could not use them anyway. So I guess banning and confiscating weapons in some corrupt third world ghetto should have meant that no weapons were ever circulating?

We’re expected to believe that, at the end, they shoot down the shuttle with ease, yet appear to forget they’ve done it as they don’t attempt to do so again when it starts to limp up to the main vessel — in spite of all the TV cameras reporting this is happening. What? No one in command is paying attention? Good Grief.

Actually I think the idea was that one engine was blown out and the human with the help of the kid was not able to pull it out of a tail spin and fly it half busted up. The alien who knew what he was doing barely managed it , slowly in fact. Didn’t you notice that the soldiers were trying to shoot it down again the whole time? This was the whole point of the Mech battle in fact to cover the escaping ship and he even had to intercept an RPG and put up a hell of a fight as I recall. This is a third world country a small UN task force and a team of independant military contractors deployed and 20 years after the aliens and ship are no big deal and rather routine.

We’re expected to believe this company (where’s the real army?!) stores alien weapons of possibly enormous destructive capabilities in a DOWNTOWN building? With no more security than a few rent-a-cops? Say what?!?!

Real army ? This is South Africa aside from the UN task force working with that company (think Halliburton) the real Army there probably was the war lords.

Actually it was a locked down bunker in a research facility, the main character knew the layout before hand, and if you recall they had to fight their way through using the alien tech and then almost got wasted by a fire team in the first few minutes they were in the LAB. This was a private independent contractor facility that had been doing it’s routine futile research on old alien guns they can’t use, or figure out and alien autopsies for about 20 years in the middle of a burg in south Africa . Not exactly area 51.

We’re expected to believe that the city has had this enormous vessel hanging over it for TWENTY YEARS yet no one has had the brains to think that, just maybe, at some point the batteries will run down in the thing and it’ll faww down, go BOOM? I know I’d move my business out from under. Yet these people don’t think this might be a good idea? This redefines stupidity.

I think this probably was concern for about ten years or so and after that they just kept the aliens underneath and hoped it would squish them someday. I’m guessing they didn’t know how to move it and didn’t want to blow it up (radiation?) and it was not that high up that it would have destroyed the nearest city if it fell on the rural area.

Reply

20 GeeEm February 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Joe34- Do your research. The warlords WERE foreigners- they were Nigerians, and being a South African citizen I can assure you that Nigeria is not in South Africa. Stop pretending to be an expert on the state of South Africa’s army either, you are clearly ignorant.

Reply

21 Joe34 August 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm

s.wolf
Almost all the grips you had with the movies plot are were kind of explained or not really all that hard to rationalize. Here’s how I though of it.

we’re expected to believe that intelligent aliens possessed of interstellar and other technologies would just be herded into ghettos and left to rot? Ridiculous!

They go out of their way to explain that only a few of the aliens are from the command module that dropped off and later one of these remaining commander s and his son try to fly back to the ship. The rest of them are not exactly, scientists, engineer s, pilots ect but genetically engineered workers or grunt level solders. It’s not hard to believe an alien race that appears to have been practicing genetic based manipulation and bio technology could have bred and been transporting a dumb worker class with a skeleton crew.

We’re expected to believe the U.N/Americans/Russians/Chinese wouldn’t have at least a huge presence on board that alien ship? Nonsense.

The ship was not in international air space and they only show a brief clip of the first UN team to board it then fast forward 20 years later so who says the US didn’t send experts there to study it. When you see a UFO crashed in the US type movie do you ask hey where are the Chinese ? Given that it was a burden not a boon and no one wanted to have to deal with them once it was determined that they were dumb as rocks and their guns not usable it seems passable that other countries grabbed a some prototypes to experiment on via the black market and then after a decade said yeah those two million roach like aliens, that’s all you.

We’re expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

Not foreign warlords , this is set in South Africa. If they were foreign where would they be from Canada ? Yeah war lords in the rural parts of some third world country running around with guns doing things that should be illegal, that could never happen. You’d think it was supposed to be shot in parts of south Africa or something..oh wait a minute. Besides those energy weapons were banned and humans could not use them anyway. So I guess banning and confiscating weapons in some corrupt third world ghetto should have meant that no weapons were ever circulating?

We’re expected to believe that, at the end, they shoot down the shuttle with ease, yet appear to forget they’ve done it as they don’t attempt to do so again when it starts to limp up to the main vessel — in spite of all the TV cameras reporting this is happening. What? No one in command is paying attention? Good Grief.

Actually I think the idea was that one engine was blown out and the human with the help of the kid was not able to pull it out of a tail spin and fly it half busted up. The alien who knew what he was doing barely managed it , slowly in fact. Didn’t you notice that the soldiers were trying to shoot it down again the whole time? This was the whole point of the Mech battle in fact to cover the escaping ship and he even had to intercept an RPG and put up a hell of a fight as I recall. This is a third world country a small UN task force and a team of independant military contractors deployed and 20 years after the aliens and ship are no big deal and rather routine.

We’re expected to believe this company (where’s the real army?!) stores alien weapons of possibly enormous destructive capabilities in a DOWNTOWN building? With no more security than a few rent-a-cops? Say what?!?!

Real army ? This is South Africa aside from the UN task force working with that company (think Halliburton) the real Army there probably was the war lords.

Actually it was a locked down bunker in a research facility, the main character knew the layout before hand, and if you recall they had to fight their way through using the alien tech and then almost got wasted by a fire team in the first few minutes they were in the LAB. This was a private independent contractor facility that had been doing it’s routine futile research on old alien guns they can’t use, or figure out and alien autopsies for about 20 years in the middle of a burg in south Africa . Not exactly area 51.

We’re expected to believe that the city has had this enormous vessel hanging over it for TWENTY YEARS yet no one has had the brains to think that, just maybe, at some point the batteries will run down in the thing and it’ll faww down, go BOOM? I know I’d move my business out from under. Yet these people don’t think this might be a good idea? This redefines stupidity.

I think this probably was concern for about ten years or so and after that they just kept the aliens underneath and hoped it would squish them someday. I’m guessing they didn’t know how to move it and didn’t want to blow it up (radiation?) and it was not that high up that it would have destroyed the nearest city if it fell on the rural area.

Reply

22 Joe34 August 25, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Oh also as cool as the alien weapons were I think there weren’t a whole lot of them , and human weapons still got the job done too so they weren’t nessasarily like an atom bomb and not a huge threat so they banned and confiscated them knowing humans couldn’t use them and the worker aliens were so dumb they traded them for cat food or threw them away.

As cool as the Mech was it took only a platton of solgers and a couple RPGs to wipe it out.

Reply

23 Joe34 August 25, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Oh also as cool as the alien weapons were I think there weren’t a whole lot of them , and human weapons still got the job done too so they weren’t nessasarily like an atom bomb and not a huge threat so they banned and confiscated them knowing humans couldn’t use them and the worker aliens were so dumb they traded them for cat food or threw them away.

As cool as the Mech was it took only a platton of solgers and a couple RPGs to wipe it out.

Reply

24 Xavier September 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm

@Joe34 the rest for me was explainable but the one I kept coming back to was how did the aliens manage to get themselves thrown in camps in the first place, even if they weren’t proper soldiers they still had kick ass weaponry and Wilkus wasn’t a soldier either and didn’t even have the apparent alien speed and strength (yes i know the aliens were malnourished when they arrived but they still were 20 yrs later in the camps) yet he and 1 alien were able to stand up to a hell of a lot even though they were eventually taken down, you still have to see that they were only 2 people. All the explanations to the plot holes still don’t explain the cliches, similarities to other movies that have used the same concepts a lot better, poor dialogue and unfocused nature of the story.

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25 Xavier September 2, 2009 at 3:54 pm

@Joe34 the rest for me was explainable but the one I kept coming back to was how did the aliens manage to get themselves thrown in camps in the first place, even if they weren’t proper soldiers they still had kick ass weaponry and Wilkus wasn’t a soldier either and didn’t even have the apparent alien speed and strength (yes i know the aliens were malnourished when they arrived but they still were 20 yrs later in the camps) yet he and 1 alien were able to stand up to a hell of a lot even though they were eventually taken down, you still have to see that they were only 2 people. All the explanations to the plot holes still don’t explain the cliches, similarities to other movies that have used the same concepts a lot better, poor dialogue and unfocused nature of the story.

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26 Xavier September 2, 2009 at 3:58 pm

and eric i did feel that the love story was a bit tacked on, almost an afterthought and was not incredibly gripping/moving

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27 Xavier September 2, 2009 at 3:58 pm

and eric i did feel that the love story was a bit tacked on, almost an afterthought and was not incredibly gripping/moving

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28 Eric Melin September 2, 2009 at 4:25 pm

ARGH! What I liked about the love story is that it was hinted at, and partially because of that, more powerful. And it was barely in there, but it made an impact. It certainly didn’t take up enough screen time to be objected to too strongly.

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29 Eric Melin September 2, 2009 at 4:25 pm

ARGH! What I liked about the love story is that it was hinted at, and partially because of that, more powerful. And it was barely in there, but it made an impact. It certainly didn’t take up enough screen time to be objected to too strongly.

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30 Xavier September 3, 2009 at 5:43 am

I guess we can agree to disagree on that it clearly made an impact on you, it didn’t for me, besides the love story was not part of the conventions and cliches that annoyed me

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31 Xavier September 3, 2009 at 5:43 am

I guess we can agree to disagree on that it clearly made an impact on you, it didn’t for me, besides the love story was not part of the conventions and cliches that annoyed me

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32 Chris September 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Just one thing, you said they get there name “prawns” cause of there shrimp like qualities?
Wrong, the name is from a type of grasshopper found in southafrica/nigera called the prawn

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33 Chris September 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Just one thing, you said they get there name “prawns” cause of there shrimp like qualities?
Wrong, the name is from a type of grasshopper found in southafrica/nigera called the prawn

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34 Matteo October 13, 2009 at 11:52 pm

>>We’re expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be >>allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring >>dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

>Not foreign warlords , this is set in South Africa. If they were >foreign where would they be from Canada ?

The Warlord is from Nigeria, so yes, he’s a foreigner in South Africa. The movie was actually banned in Nigeria due to the bad image it was giving of the nation (you can check this if you don’t believe me!).

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35 Matteo October 13, 2009 at 11:52 pm

>>We’re expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be >>allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring >>dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

>Not foreign warlords , this is set in South Africa. If they were >foreign where would they be from Canada ?

The Warlord is from Nigeria, so yes, he’s a foreigner in South Africa. The movie was actually banned in Nigeria due to the bad image it was giving of the nation (you can check this if you don’t believe me!).

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36 Sean October 14, 2009 at 8:11 am

I thought it was pretty good actually…

Great CGI and not completely without disengaging the brain by using a real world parallel.

But seriously people – “Starship troopers”? These movies are right down there, coming in 2nd only to the incredibly cringeful “Highlander 2″

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37 Sean October 14, 2009 at 8:11 am

I thought it was pretty good actually…

Great CGI and not completely without disengaging the brain by using a real world parallel.

But seriously people – “Starship troopers”? These movies are right down there, coming in 2nd only to the incredibly cringeful “Highlander 2″

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38 Eric Melin October 14, 2009 at 9:24 am

Sean-
Try “Starship Troopers” again with this new perspective. It’s whip-smart satire.
Matteo-
Interesting about Nigeria. It’s such a hard thing in movies when the “bad guys” are obviously one culture of people. Does it have to reflect badly on the entire population?

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39 Eric Melin October 14, 2009 at 9:24 am

Sean-
Try “Starship Troopers” again with this new perspective. It’s whip-smart satire.
Matteo-
Interesting about Nigeria. It’s such a hard thing in movies when the “bad guys” are obviously one culture of people. Does it have to reflect badly on the entire population?

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40 Trey October 14, 2009 at 9:30 am

Gotta back Eric up in “Starship Troopers”. I think that it is so smart it most people either completely overlook it or cheer unknowingly for the victory of the “Nazi” humans. Don’t force it though. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. One more viewing would be worthwhile though.

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41 Trey October 14, 2009 at 9:30 am

Gotta back Eric up in “Starship Troopers”. I think that it is so smart it most people either completely overlook it or cheer unknowingly for the victory of the “Nazi” humans. Don’t force it though. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. One more viewing would be worthwhile though.

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42 Someone January 2, 2010 at 7:45 am

Trey, you kinda set yourself a trap. Lets play devil’s advocate.

You said.

“…”Starship Troopers”. I think that it was so smart it most people either completely overlook it or cheer unknowingly for the victory of the “Nazi” humans. Don’t Force it though. If you don’t like it, you don,t like it.”

What if District 9 is more than just a repeat of human history in Africa? Sure, it shows how unaccepting humans generally are, however it also shows that we humans don’t accept things with reason. The first half of the movie explained that the aliens imposed on us and because we couldn’t understand their disregard for ownership, we complained that they steal and we seperated them from us. It reminds me of simpler societies like the natives in Tahiti, who didn’t have the concept of ownership.

It also shows that intellegence is seperate from aggressivness in a society. Some of the smartest people in the world are very passive. Perhaps this alien race is a symbol of what humans would be like if we stopped fighting each other and focused on, harmony, space and science. (Atlantis?)

I am only scraping the tip of the iceburg here when I draw these parallels. I am sure more can be drawn with deeper thought. I wasn’t even trying hard to come up with any of this.

You say the plot is cliche? How many movies show an alien race that is weak, malnurished, and in need of OUR help despite their extreme contrast in technology. Think about older sci-fi frankinstein plots like I-Robot, or the classic aliens attack plot like Star Ship Troopers, and War Of The Worlds. I find this movie a wonderful break from canned re-used plots. I have never seen or heard about a movie or book where smarter aliens need HUMAN help, let alone one that is mainstream.

I find the plot different in that it is non-linear. Even when the plot focused on Walus and his alien buddy, it jumped around and kept me interested rather than focusing in one area. It takes some shallow, pragmatic, linear thinkers to see no value in this movie. (Which by the way, I mean that last sentence in the most logical sense).

Honestly, ive been waiting for a sci-fi plot that is different from, aliens attack, humans win. The classic frankinstein, we invent something that kills us all, was getting old too. Ever since “A Boy and His Dog” we were beating a dead horse with Legend, 28 days later, I-Robot, etc.

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43 Someone January 2, 2010 at 7:45 am

Trey, you kinda set yourself a trap. Lets play devil’s advocate.

You said.

“…”Starship Troopers”. I think that it was so smart it most people either completely overlook it or cheer unknowingly for the victory of the “Nazi” humans. Don’t Force it though. If you don’t like it, you don,t like it.”

What if District 9 is more than just a repeat of human history in Africa? Sure, it shows how unaccepting humans generally are, however it also shows that we humans don’t accept things with reason. The first half of the movie explained that the aliens imposed on us and because we couldn’t understand their disregard for ownership, we complained that they steal and we seperated them from us. It reminds me of simpler societies like the natives in Tahiti, who didn’t have the concept of ownership.

It also shows that intellegence is seperate from aggressivness in a society. Some of the smartest people in the world are very passive. Perhaps this alien race is a symbol of what humans would be like if we stopped fighting each other and focused on, harmony, space and science. (Atlantis?)

I am only scraping the tip of the iceburg here when I draw these parallels. I am sure more can be drawn with deeper thought. I wasn’t even trying hard to come up with any of this.

You say the plot is cliche? How many movies show an alien race that is weak, malnurished, and in need of OUR help despite their extreme contrast in technology. Think about older sci-fi frankinstein plots like I-Robot, or the classic aliens attack plot like Star Ship Troopers, and War Of The Worlds. I find this movie a wonderful break from canned re-used plots. I have never seen or heard about a movie or book where smarter aliens need HUMAN help, let alone one that is mainstream.

I find the plot different in that it is non-linear. Even when the plot focused on Walus and his alien buddy, it jumped around and kept me interested rather than focusing in one area. It takes some shallow, pragmatic, linear thinkers to see no value in this movie. (Which by the way, I mean that last sentence in the most logical sense).

Honestly, ive been waiting for a sci-fi plot that is different from, aliens attack, humans win. The classic frankinstein, we invent something that kills us all, was getting old too. Ever since “A Boy and His Dog” we were beating a dead horse with Legend, 28 days later, I-Robot, etc.

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44 Someone January 2, 2010 at 7:56 am

Oh ya, and here is the devils advocate I promised. I think District 9 was so smart, perhaps etherially, that either people completely overlooked the potential symbolism, and future predictions. They thought of it as another “humans take advantage of anything.” movie. Don’t force it though, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it.

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45 Someone January 2, 2010 at 7:56 am

Oh ya, and here is the devils advocate I promised. I think District 9 was so smart, perhaps etherially, that either people completely overlooked the potential symbolism, and future predictions. They thought of it as another “humans take advantage of anything.” movie. Don’t force it though, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it.

Reply

46 Trey January 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Dear Someone,

In order to respond to your comment I have quoted from your text.

“The first half of the movie explained that the aliens imposed on us and because we couldn’t understand their disregard for ownership, we complained that they steal and we seperated them from us. It reminds me of simpler societies like the natives in Tahiti, who didn’t have the concept of ownership.”

Where in this film did ownership and a ownership society as a major theme? If you did, it was because you brought it into the theater with you, not because it was in the film. These aliens were oppressed and discriminated against because they were galactic refugees, not because they didn’t understand ownership.

“Perhaps this alien race is a symbol of what humans would be like if we stopped fighting each other and focused on, harmony, space and science. (Atlantis?)”

Someone, this is a cute concept, but I think that you forget the MASSIVE amounts of alien weaponry that is stockpiled in the shanty town and in the central building of the security force. The aliens are no more peaceful than us. They are us. That’s the point.

“I wasn’t even trying hard to come up with any of this.”

And it shows.

“How many movies show an alien race that is weak, malnurished, and in need of OUR help despite their extreme contrast in technology.”

ET
Men in Black
Flight of the Navigator
Starman
Mac and Me

“I find the plot different in that it is non-linear. Even when the plot focused on Walus and his alien buddy, it jumped around and kept me interested rather than focusing in one area.”

The plot was entirely linear. The story went from Wickus (not Walus by the way) being human to being part alien to being alien. It was a straight line. Don’t confuse the interviews that were used to add structure to the story with a non linear jump in time. This is not Pulp Fiction, or Memento.

“Honestly, ive been waiting for a sci-fi plot that is different from, aliens attack, humans win.”

But you enjoyed weak aliens show up, humans oppress and win, except for two escapees?

“Oh ya, and here is the devils advocate I promised. I think District 9 was so smart, perhaps etherially, that either people completely overlooked the potential symbolism, and future predictions.”

You obviously didn’t read my review of this movie. http://www.scene-stealers.com/print-reviews/district-9-devolves-into-imitative-action-treys-counterpoint/ I actually liked the first act. I was into the political drama, in spite of the fact it was heavy handed. What I hated about the film was that it devolved into a splatter-fest-chop-house-chase-film, which threw out all of it’s first act symbolism. Future predictions, eh? Peyote anyone?

“Trey, you kinda set yourself a trap”

If I have, you have not sprung it.

Reply

47 Trey January 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Dear Someone,

In order to respond to your comment I have quoted from your text.

“The first half of the movie explained that the aliens imposed on us and because we couldn’t understand their disregard for ownership, we complained that they steal and we seperated them from us. It reminds me of simpler societies like the natives in Tahiti, who didn’t have the concept of ownership.”

Where in this film did ownership and a ownership society as a major theme? If you did, it was because you brought it into the theater with you, not because it was in the film. These aliens were oppressed and discriminated against because they were galactic refugees, not because they didn’t understand ownership.

“Perhaps this alien race is a symbol of what humans would be like if we stopped fighting each other and focused on, harmony, space and science. (Atlantis?)”

Someone, this is a cute concept, but I think that you forget the MASSIVE amounts of alien weaponry that is stockpiled in the shanty town and in the central building of the security force. The aliens are no more peaceful than us. They are us. That’s the point.

“I wasn’t even trying hard to come up with any of this.”

And it shows.

“How many movies show an alien race that is weak, malnurished, and in need of OUR help despite their extreme contrast in technology.”

ET
Men in Black
Flight of the Navigator
Starman
Mac and Me

“I find the plot different in that it is non-linear. Even when the plot focused on Walus and his alien buddy, it jumped around and kept me interested rather than focusing in one area.”

The plot was entirely linear. The story went from Wickus (not Walus by the way) being human to being part alien to being alien. It was a straight line. Don’t confuse the interviews that were used to add structure to the story with a non linear jump in time. This is not Pulp Fiction, or Memento.

“Honestly, ive been waiting for a sci-fi plot that is different from, aliens attack, humans win.”

But you enjoyed weak aliens show up, humans oppress and win, except for two escapees?

“Oh ya, and here is the devils advocate I promised. I think District 9 was so smart, perhaps etherially, that either people completely overlooked the potential symbolism, and future predictions.”

You obviously didn’t read my review of this movie. http://www.scene-stealers.com/print-reviews/district-9-devolves-into-imitative-action-treys-counterpoint/ I actually liked the first act. I was into the political drama, in spite of the fact it was heavy handed. What I hated about the film was that it devolved into a splatter-fest-chop-house-chase-film, which threw out all of it’s first act symbolism. Future predictions, eh? Peyote anyone?

“Trey, you kinda set yourself a trap”

If I have, you have not sprung it.

Reply

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