District 9.  Where to begin?  I suppose by emphasizing that I had very, very high expectations for this film despite the fact that it was the writer/director’s first full-length feature.  I’m not a huge fan of Peter Jackson, but I even go so far as to tip my hat to him for producing the film.

 

District 9 is a visual and auditory infusion of pure, unadulterated awesome.  Although I generally enjoy most movies (even awesomely bad ones…for their badness), it’s very, very difficult for a film to impress me on this level…especially when I’ve fallen in love with the marketing tactics and the teaser trailer and heard nothing but good things about the man behind it.  I saw Cloverfield simply because I liked the way it was marketed, and….well, it wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t mind-blowing.  District 9 absolutely lives up to the hype.

 

The film is set up as a sort of after-the-fact documentary about an extraordinary event surrounding aliens who have already been on earth for twenty years.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

 

First of all, you will certainly enjoy the parallels drawn early on in the movie.  Granted, I have never been to Africa, so I cannot compare the actual setting to anything there, but I have been to some very similar neighborhoods in Brazil.  Think…something similar to Edward Norton’s original home in Incredible Hulk…but much dirtier and clearly much more crime-ridden.

 

One of the first things that caught my attention is that there really are no absolute heroes or absolute villains in this movie.  We know that the aliens have caused destruction in the past (which some scholars attribute to ignorance of human culture), and that is why they were isolated in what is now known as District 9, a shanty-town that is also unfortunately partially ruled by a Nigerian gang.

 

The company that is commissioned to assist the aliens is iffy from the beginning; it’s certainly secretive.  It comes off a bit like the Umbrella Corporation in a more realistic setting.  And our human protagonist, Wikus, is one of their employees.   He’s essentially married into his position; his father-in-law places him  in charge of evicting the “Prawns,” as they are derogatively termed, and controlling their social structure in order to reduce their Impact on the nearby African city.  He likes his job.  He seems like a fairly decent man, though he certainly looks down on the Prawns, as do many humans.

 

While I’m singing praises, let me say excellent job on the Prawns.  Christopher (the main alien character) and his son manage to actually express emotion even without CGI assistance (not that it isn’t there at times).  Many questions brought up as to their home planet, their social structure, and so forth remain unanswered, and I think it’s better that way.  Much better.

 

The movie is so full of poignant scenes and images that I cannot begin to list them or how they affected me.  Rest assured, if you are at all likely to identify with film characters, you will have an emotional response to what you have seen.  Humans are killed, alien babies are summarily aborted for being produced without proper permits, a man, an alien, and his alien son form an interesting bond….well, I could go on forever.

 

This murky film leaves itself open for much discussion.  Humans commit what we consider to be “humane” acts, as do aliens.  In the same way, both aliens and humans at some point act in an “inhumane” manner, and a great deal of these two comparisons comes to a head thanks to our protagonist, who did a fantastic job in his role.

 

There are many questions I’d like answered.  There are plenty of extra details on which I’d like to get my hands.  There is much more beneath the surface of this movie than its already quite profound exterior, and that is what makes it an absolute must-see for any of those who enjoy dystopias, moral ambiguity, science fiction….well, pretty much anything that requires active thought.  I’ve read criticism of excessive gore and violence elsewhere, but in my opinion it really wasn’t that explicit, especially considering the almost comic nature of many of the human deaths.  We’ve certainly seen worse done to humans than what are done to aliens (or Our Protagonist) in the past.

 

I hope Mr. Blomkamp blesses us with more of his complex, interesting works in the future.   I also want to give him high praise as far as “big movie” newcomers are concerned.  The man, if this movie is any example, has a fantastic eye and an intriguing mind.  I’d love to sit down and just have a chat with him sometime.

 

I absolutely recommend this picture to anyone who’s in the mood to be intellectually engaged by a film.

Four and ¾ Chicas.