District 9 (2009)
August 1, 2022 7:15 PM - Subscribe

Thirty years ago, aliens arrive on Earth -- not to conquer or give aid, but -- to find refuge from their dying planet. Separated from humans in a South African area called District 9, the aliens are managed by Multi-National United, which is unconcerned with the aliens' welfare but will do anything to master their advanced technology. When a company field agent (Sharlto Copley) contracts a mysterious virus that begins to alter his DNA, there is only one place he can hide: District 9.

Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell. Produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. Directed by Neill Blomkamp.

Rated 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on FreeVee and available for digital rental on multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This was a special fx reel with a better than average plot. I think it definitely earns its place alongside Jurassic Park or T2 in the use of realistic CGI, I'm sure someone with better special FX experience can put this in better terms than I but it felt groundbreaking in ways movies like Avatar did not. Avatar felt just evolutionary, not revolutionary.
posted by geoff. at 9:27 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]

I really enjoyed this movie. I remember how much I came to care about the alien protag and their child. And watching Sharlto's transformation not just physically, but emotionally was really gut wrenching. The scene I remember the most is when they force him to use his alien arm to shoot that weapon.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:00 AM on August 2 [4 favorites]

There's a element of this film that reminds me of the first story from the Twilight Zone movie, "A Quality of Mercy" - though Wikus is a bumbling & awkward man, complicit in the racism towards the "Prawns" (do we ever get the proper name for the species?) but not as overt as the guy in the Twilight Zone. But this film goes further with the transformation, not just physically, but emotionally - it's really something to see Wikus go from what appears to be a weak man, benefiting from his connections and status, to his willingness to sacrifice his immediate desires so that Christopher can leave; the recognition of a need greater than his.

I should watch it again with my kids - they are old enough to get this film now.
posted by nubs at 7:22 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]

Is it just me, or did District 9 fail to make clear that Christopher (the heroic decapodian) was not a former slave, but the captain/pilot of the slave ship? This seems pretty obvious, since the slave aliens didn't understand the operation of the ship, but Christopher is right at home in the command module. The story from that perspective (captain of a slave ship shipwrecks on an island, falls in love with a former slave and has a child with her) seems like it should have been played up more, since it's a kind of redemption for Christopher.
posted by SPrintF at 8:22 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]

This was a special fx reel with a better than average plot.

I always thought of it as a special fx reel with a worse than average plot.

Is it just me, or did District 9 fail to make clear that Christopher (the heroic decapodian) was not a former slave, but the captain/pilot of the slave ship?

... okay, now I need to see it again.
posted by Etrigan at 8:42 AM on August 2

My favorite thing about this movie was my friend mansplaining it to my mom, like the Apartheid imagery was a subtle puzzle box to be unlocked by the keen cinephile.

"No, you see, it's a metaphor."

Yeah Aaron. Yeah. It's a metaphor. You realize this is the woman who recommended Liquid Sky to our high school film club right?
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:06 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]

Is it just me, or did District 9 fail to make clear that Christopher (the heroic decapodian) was not a former slave, but the captain/pilot of the slave ship?

I thought it was pretty clear that he had some sort of elevated position, but I never got any hint that he was one of the slavers as opposed to having simply been pressed into that particular service. Or perhaps once the command was overthrown he had the most relevant skills among the slaves to take on that role.

But it's been a while since I saw this, and I read this part of the IMDB summary:
Grainy footage shows part of the ship (supposedly a command module) falling to Earth, but nobody has been able to find it

Which brings up the possibility that he was the captain or command crew, managed to escape the ship in the command module, and has been hiding from the other slaves this whole time.

In which case, it's not a redemption at all -- he's returning to "his" people, and if he ever comes back it's certainly not for the benefit of anybody else in this story.

Like I said, it's been a while since I saw this, so I'm kind of hoping someone can refute this backstory -- I think I liked the movie much better when I saw a hopeful ending.
posted by bjrubble at 1:47 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

I liked this film's ambition when it came out but thought that it didn't quite work. I did think that Neill Blomkamp showed huge promise and hoped that he'd be a great sci-fi director. That didn't quite workout.
posted by octothorpe at 5:50 PM on August 2

It was just so amazing to see a character like Wikus on the big screen. Like, I know that guy! I had teachers like that! I don't know how District 9 comes across to a non South African audience. To me it was pretty powerful as it was so familiar.

All that earnest, smarmy, dishonest integrity.
posted by Zumbador at 10:01 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]

I remember wondering, at movie's end, if Wikus was the only alien who used to be human. What if they all were?
posted by kurumi at 6:18 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]

Kurumi... I never thought of that. Why did I never think of that?
posted by Zumbador at 8:56 PM on August 3

One of the reasons Blomkamp's career has seemed stalled may be because he spent years trying to get an Aliens sequel made that would scrap everything from Alien3 on and bring back Hicks. It didn't happen because it got buried by Ridley Scott's prequel and/or because Chappie tanked. Here is an article. And some concept art.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:14 AM on August 5

Well and Elysium and Chappie kind of sucked.
posted by octothorpe at 7:30 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]

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