Written by Doug Cornelius
District 9 asks us to imagine that a massive interstellar spaceship might show up and park itself over not the usual New York or Washington, D.C., location, but over Johannesburg. The aliens are a cross between humans, insects and crustaceans. Wary earthlings quickly dub them “prawns” and isolate them in the festering shantytown of District 9. Twenty years pass, during which crime and squalor soar in District 9 while humans practice a sort of alien apartheid.
The movie is directed and co-written by the South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp and shot in Johannesburg and the New Zealand studios of producer Peter Jackson. (You may remember him as the director of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.) Jackson had originally picked Blomkamp to direct the movie version of Halo.
Will I like it?
District 9 has a great story, action and special effects. The movie also draws a picture of race, military contractors and humanity colliding in a bad way. Using the big test for parents, was it worth getting a babysitter to see the movie? Yes.
Will my kids like it?
It’s Rated R for bloody violence and pervasive language. Keep the little geeklets far away. If you let your teenagers see violent action movies, then they would be Ok with this.
Are there any big name actors in the movie?
None. This was a small budget movie. (I heard it cost $30 million to make.) It looks like all of that was put into special effects and action sequences. It seems like little of the budget was spent on camera mounts.
Will I get motion sickness?
Most of movie was shot using handheld cameras. That means lots of jerky movements. I appreciated the visual impact of the camera movements during some sequences. It got stomach wrenching after a while, leaving that giant Slushee uncomfortable in my belly. They really should have spent some of that budget on a few more camera mounts.
But what about Halo?
Blomkamp was originally supposed to direct the big-screen version of the hit game Halo. Jackson was going to produce the movie. That fell apart. District 9 is Blomkamp’s consolation prize for losing the movie. If you want to get an idea of what that might have looked like you can see a short video of a Halo combat sequence that he put together. It’s really good.
Do I need to sit through the credits for some sort of bonus at the end?
As you might expect there is a long list of special effects people in the end credits. It seems like they must have employed half of the population of New Zealand. The ending of the movie leaves you wondering if there might be a little extra coming. But there isn’t anything.
Are there any good trailers?
The trailers were mediocre. The Final Destination – been there, done that. Legion – looks promising with a combination of Tremors and The Seventh Sign. Jennifer’s Body – Megan Fox as an evil demon. Law Abiding Citizen – vigilante torture porn. 9 – promising animated apocalypse movie from Tim Burton, sort of Wall-E meets The Terminator.
What’s the best time for a bathroom break?
There is a short lull after an hour. It comes shortly after a big reveal by an alien and his son. RunPee.com has a recommendation to go after 49 minutes.
Will I want to see it again?
There was a lot going on, with vivid imagery. You will want to see District 9 again. After your stomach settles back down.