"District 9" Movie Review

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"District 9" (my 0-10 rating: 9)
Genre: sci-fi
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Cast: Sharlto Copley, David James, Vanessa Haywood
Time: 1 hr., 52 min.
Rating: R (for bloody violence, ongoing vulgarity)

Grisly in the extreme, strikingly original, perversely intelligent.

Steeped in male energy, peppered with surprise turns on old themes, the visually cruel "District 9," probably nauseating for some, spiritually desolate for others, but of macabre fascination for still others, is destined to re-shape the sci-fi concepts of modern film. Rising briskly out of the initial monotony of its descriptive array of desolation, the film treats its morbid substance with such weighty detail and relentless illumination that you are struck with how real this high concpt becomes.

The contemporary points about racism and attitudes toward ghettos, crass militarism and icy industrialists is more than obvious, using space aliens in place of earthly ethnic groups and minorities. The gruesome sets at times become mercilessly crushing to our senses, much the more so as South African director Neill Blomkamp pushes them into our faces and grinds in their details with gusto.

The corporate and military powers of our world are looking for some way to unlock the secrets of the technology which these long-ago arrived alien extraterrestrials obviously know. Especially, of course, their weaponry, There they have hovered in a spaceship the size of a small city, an intricately outfitted structure, over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa.

They've been around for 20 years, having made contact apparently peacefully and revealing themselves as simply refugees from their home world. They're scared and huddled, starving. At that time, earth authorities had set them up in a makeshift home in South Africa's "District Nine," formerly a teeming ghetto of these creatures who are called "prawns" because of their vague likeness to giant crustaceans, especially in their lobster-like claws..

But as the world's nations have debated over what to do with them, being unwelcome locally, patience has slowly run out. The alien concentration camp has been contracted out to the private corporation Multi-National United (MNU). Obviously, this firm couldn't care less about the aliens' welfare; profits are paramount and the aliens' weapons promise to be beyond awesome.

So they contract out the relocation project to field operative Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) who moves in with armored vehicles and flame-throwers, destroying their homes and many of their children in order to encourage them to leave. The ruthless CEO is the father of Wikus' wife Tanya (Vanessa Haywood).

What has been discovered by the corporate scientists is that the coveted weaponry can be activated only by alien DNA. The prawns won't cooperate in that. Wikus is mandated to get that DNA. He's stymied. But during one examination of alien tissue he is infected by a mysterious virus that begins changing his own DNA.

As he attains perfect balance with the alien DNA, his left lower-arm and hand transforming into an alien lobster claw, he now becomes the source so desperately sought after. He and only he can reveal the secrets of alien technology. He now must hide, hide, hide. Yet where else can he go . . . but District 9.

Forced into hiding, Wikus will team up with an intelligent, green-skinned prawn, Christopher Johnson (voice of Jason Cope), and his kid, Little CJ, who's grotesquely cute. Wilkus', desperately desiring the reverse transformation of his arm and hand, gets Christopher's promise to do so if he can help the refugees return to their planet. Meantime, wife Tanya is frantic with worry.

Festering wounds and ugly alien body eccentricities get lots of loving close-up attention by director Blomkamp's cameraman, as do gashed and mutilated tissue. And always, there is the nagging feeling that we are not going to be spared an incessant, dominating grip on the assault upon Wikus by corporate gunmen. After awhile, the film's dealing in hellish death achieves a kind of rhythm, an artistic horror whose beat is gripped and maintained.

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Marty Meltz has 1 articles online

http://www.martymoviereviews.com Marty Meltz, 30-year former films critic for the Portland (Maine) Sunday Telegram. Offering right-to-the-point reviews that address directly the question of the film's entertainment value to you. Films have personalities. It doesn't matter who wrote it, who directs it, who stars in it, if it doesn't reach out to you with charisma. I examine its honesty and intelligence. Are you being respected, or are you being jerked around?

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"District 9" Movie Review

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This article was published on 2010/03/28