South African director Neil Blomkamp makes his feature film directorial debut with District 9, a depiction of a near future in Johannesburg, South Africa in a society divided between humans and Prawns, bipedal aliens who live in District 9, the film stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Natalie Boltt.
The film is an interesting fictional spin on real life social inequality and persecution and a fairly on the nose allegory, but it stands as an interesting and engaging sci-fi film, Blomkamp crafts an interesting, believable world in District 9 with a host of vibrant characters, played enthusiastically by a good cast. With Sharlto Copley especially as the often manic but maybe intentionally hilarious Wikus Van De Merwe, a government agent who initially has disdain for the alien prawns but changes his views as events in the film change his circumstances. Copley owns the rule and brings a really natural seeming performance and it’s still probably his most quotable and memorable film role.
The film has some great writing and the plot moves along taking interesting turns and twists with an almost documentary feel to it, with plots events geting recorded in the context of the film near the start, this adds to the realism of the plot and makes things feel more gritty and impactful.
The writing in the film is also great, with some great dialogue and entertainment value from Wikus, though the humour is nicely balanced with the drama and more serious themes present. Wikus goes on an interesting character arc and seeing his opinion change as he sees things from the other side so to speak is a great plot device and while Wikus initially seemed to be a uncaring, selfish character, there are more sides to him.
And while the filming is often pretty hectic, due to the documentary style filming an action, it’s still shot well and the film also looks great visually. The prawn aliens are creatively designed and taken at face value, not necessarily good or bad but a presence nonetheless, they pose no huge threat to humanity but they’re still segregated and treated poorly. Their place in society is also interestingly portrayed, depicting them interact with different ethnicities in Johannesburg, in a human world with its’ own varying social inequality, the prawns also existing adds an interesting extra element and their inclusion or rather their exclusion makes you think about societies in real life and whether something like this could happen, the answer being – possibly (If Aliens are real and decided to come and live with us that is). While District 9 is on the nose with its message and allegory, it’s an interesting social commentary and presents a compelling world with an engaging story a main character in Wikus whose on personal journey is great to watch
Blomkamp crafts a well made film that is very well shot and a thought provoking sci-fi film with a great plot, decent action and some great characters.
. Interesting social allegory made with the prawns
. Imaginative use of technology
. Strong performances in the film