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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true sci-fi original
2009 was a great year for sci-fi fans. Not only did we get the wonderfully genuine Moon, but this movie also seemingly came out of nowhere. Films like these help make up for the trash that Michael Bay is ramming down our throats.

District 9 contains recognizable elements of classic sci-fi. The ship hovering over the city is an obvious homage to Clarke's...
Published on July 13 2010 by LeBrain

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Typical Sci-Fi Movie
If you are a die-hard science fiction fan who loves the back story, history and technical details of a movie... then you may not like District 9. During the movie you do have strong feelings about the characters and the overall message of the movie. How can you not? Any movie that can make you feel indifference for the aliens and then sympathy 45 min later must be...
Published on Nov. 26 2010 by RobCons

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true sci-fi original, July 13 2010
LeBrain - See all my reviews
2009 was a great year for sci-fi fans. Not only did we get the wonderfully genuine Moon, but this movie also seemingly came out of nowhere. Films like these help make up for the trash that Michael Bay is ramming down our throats.

District 9 contains recognizable elements of classic sci-fi. The ship hovering over the city is an obvious homage to Clarke's Childhood's End, but this time the ship is not settled over a major city like New York. It is found hovering over director Neill Blomkamp's home town of Johannesburg, South Africa. This is a refreshing change. Michael Bay also ripped off Childhood's End, but as we all know he chose the ship to hover over the White House and blow it up!

The major science fiction theme here is xenophobia. Humans investigate the silent ship and find a million "Prawns" inside -- insectile humanoids, as different from us socially and psychologically as imaginable. They are out of fuel, stranded and starving, so a shantytown called District 9 is set up outside Johannesburg. This solution is anything but. 20 years later, after conditions keep getting worse and the Prawn population keeps expanding, the decision is made to forcably evict the Prawns from District 9. They will be re-settled in a tent city, a reference to events of the Apartheid era.

Echoing today's private corporate armed forces such as Blackwater, the eviction is handled by a private company called MNU (Multinational United). The man put in charge of this relocation is a junior clerk named Wikus van de Merwe who is hopelessly ill-suited to the task. Wikus, who serves as our protagonist, is at first nothing more than an incompetant fool who earnes the disfavor of the military men. He is protrayed as a real person with family and friends, but completely unsympathetic to the Prawns.

Wikus unwittingly stumbles upon a precious cylinder in the shack of a Prawn named Christopher. This cylindar can re-power the ship, but it also has adverse effects on Wikus, which will change his life forever. Soon, Wikus will find out for himself how it is to be an outsider, but also a valuable commodity. Wikus can now operate powerful alien weapons, the only human able to do so, which makes him a target on the run from both MNU and Nigerian gangs. And Christopher needs that cylinder back.

District 9 is disturbing to watch, both visually and thematically. Feelings of indifference toward Wikus eventually turn to sympathy. There are also moments of graphic sci-fi violence and gore. However, it is virtually impossible to turn away. The CG effects are stellar and look great in 1080p hi-def.

Much like Moon, there is much food for thought in District 9. This is aided by the fact that none of these actors are well-known to North American audiences, but the performances were still excellent.

The blu-ray disc is fuly loaded. There is a neat interactive map where you can explore District 9 and the alien ship, but this gets tiring after one or two viewings. More interesting are "The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker's Log" and some featurettes on the effects in District 9.

District 9 is an absolute must for true fans of science fiction. If you have been hungering for the real thing, the real deal, then District 9 is for you. For casual fans and movie goers, you will enjoy the aliens, the combat scenes and effects as well as the storyline. District 9 is not for everyone, particurly those with a weak stomach, but is a very rewarding watch.

I can't wait to see what Neill Blomkamp comes up with next, and I hope the success of District 9 means he can continue to make unique films without bowing to Hollywood.

4 stars.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An "ALIEN" movie VERY much about HUMANS., Nov. 23 2009
Richard S. Warner "Saraswati-Son" (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: District 9 (Bilingual) (DVD)
One of the most striking, powerful and poignant statements about human nature made it's way to us during summer 09 in the form of this tough, gritty, bracingly realistic and singularly unique movie. "District 9", directed by Neill Blomkamp of South Africa, of all unlikely places, and produced by New Zealand heavyweight, Peter Jackson, of "King Kong" and "The Lord of the Rings" fame, relays a quite unique narrative premise only ever seen before in Nicholas Roeg's "The Man Who Fell to Earth" ... aliens not as benevolent gods or invading monsters, but as our victims.

An immense, almost city-sized alien spacecraft arrives and parks itself over the city of Johannesburg and then remains there, inert and incommunicado. Eventually we ( humans ) rouse the nerve to fly up to the behemoth spaceship to discover whatever we can. Eventually, once inside, we find a large population of creatures of a very alien form deep within. They are all sick, leaderless, disoriented and in a very bad condition. So what do we do? ...... drag them all off their ship, put them in a barb-wired enclosed ghetto/shanty town ( District 9 ), treat them with utmost disdain, near starve them and routinely deal with them quite brutally, even cruelly.

The narrative of "D9" begins in "medias re", the middle of the story. The "Prawns", as we pejoratively call them, have already arrived and have been interred in their ghetto for 20 years but are now about to be removed away from the Johannesburg environ and out to a more crowded prison camp. The government, through a giant multi-national corporation, MNU, has elected a new patsy, a pencil pusher ( Sharlto Copely ) from its office who has almost no direct knowledge of or experience with the aliens he "administers" to be the one to go in to serve "eviction notices" and begin the process of getting them all out. Wikus's video documentary of eviction day gives us a taste of his smarmy, self-assured, bureacratic personality and sets up the environment and characters that later explode into the main drama after a fateful turn of events changes his routine day into a major turning point for all.

At first Wikus is a despicable and insensitve bureaucrat who even callously dispatches young "Prawns" in their eggs with schoolboy cruelty and joy. But eventually we feel sorry for this almost innocent twerp once he meets with an accident that exposes him to an alien fluid that begins a radical transformation of his DNA. This transformation turns him from hunter and evictor into the hunted and despised. With break-neck rapidity things turn 180 degrees for Wikus and the hitherto clandestine unholy alliance between government, multi-national corporation and the military comes into sharp focus.

Indeed, eventually you are shocked to find out that, from the get-go, the military and MNU have been ferreting out the weapons potential in the aliens and their technology and NOT finding ways to help them, or even learn something that can actually benefit humanity. Unbridled lust for money and power, the two most defining characteristics of human beings, then kicks into high gear.

It all comes to a viscious head when Wikus, his life and reputation utterly destroyed, realizes that he is not going to be helped by his human compatriots, but indeed is being sought out to be used in the military's biological weapons research. This research also uses the aliens freely and hideously in merciless and "inhumanly" cruel experiments when the military understands that the key to said weapons technology lies in the secret of their DNA.

On the run and desparate to save his life, Wikus turns to District 9 for refuge, stumbling into the home of an alien he had tried to evict earlier that day. And it is this alien, "Christopher", with his small boy at his side, who holds the dangerous secret to Wikus' transformation and the salvation of the "Prawns". Ironically it is also here, in the alien's shack, that Wikus, tearfully desparate for mercy, learns his first lessons in it ... from a non-human teacher.

Apartheid, corporate adventurism, human medical experimentation of the type the Nazi's engaged in, governmental lies justifiying actions otherwise morally reprehensible and the seemingly inherent capacity of human beings for cruelty, morally bankrupt opportunism with a shocking lack of compassion are the real themes of this strikingly tough and original motion picture.

Blomkamp's direction is tight and suspensful, keeping you on the edge of your seat right from the very first frames. The action is fast and electric and nothing in the film is superfluous. The story is rife with profound ethical questioning but is not entirely without compassion and humour. In fact, the greatest moments of compassion are almost entirely non-human. The cinematography is perfection. The dozens of shots of the spacehip at all times of day and conditions of light are so real they're striking. The "Prawns" themselves and their interactions with humans are also remarkably real ... all too real. And the ending sets up the inevitability of a Part Two.

A unique sci-fi film with a very fresh premise, shot largely in a mock documentary style and brandishing a sharp, stinging indictment of the darker side of the human race. "District 9" is, I think, already a must-have in any good science fiction lovers collection.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything Sci-fi is meant to be!, Dec 27 2009
Peter Cantelon (Morden, Manitoba, Canada) - See all my reviews
District 9 is a brilliant movie and is everything good sci-fi should be. It takes a no holds barred look at humanity and our tendancy to fear, hate and ultimately dominate what we do not understand. Strong themes of xenophobia, racism, the universality of love, compassion, friendship, family and community dominate this movie. Somehow director Neill Blomkamp manages to deliver all of these themes in a fast-paced, action packed sci-fi blockbuster bound to become a classic.

The film is based on a short film by director Blomkamp and was created with the modest budget of $30 million. Everything about this movie works. Set in South Africa the themes become more profound as they mesh with the nation's history of apartheid. The cast is fantastic and unknown actor Sharlto Copley as main character Wikus van de Merwe is brilliant and should be nominated for an Oscar considering this was his first professional acting job.

The film looks fantastic in blu-ray and the sound is crystal clear. The effects are fantastic looking and the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 nearly completely fills the entire screen. Blu-ray exclusive features like interactive maps etc really make you feel good about buying into the Blu-ray player and HD tv that you have.

All in all a fantastic movie by this new transplanted South African director (Blomkamp lives in Canada). I very highly recommend the movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Places you haven't been, characters you haven't met, Aug. 27 2014
Gayle Gibson (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: District 9 (Bilingual) (DVD)
This quirky South African Science-Fiction film is one of the best, filled with unusual sights and characters. Instead of the Alien Others being our superiors, those stranded on earth by a plague and perhaps the breakdown of their ship appear as lost souls, members of an extra-terrestrial Underclass. How would the human race treat such visitors? How would we deal with a second sentient species on the planet? The answers here are both unexpected and all-too-predictable.
The extras on the DVD are well worth watching.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark, Sept. 30 2014
Although I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, some of my friends did not like the first half of the movie...They should have have stayed for the second half. More than anything, this movie shows how one can be both inventive and relevant in sci-fi movie-making. It is, in my opinion, one of the landmarks sci-fi.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A commercial action sci-fi film that's also smart, political, darkly funny, and at moments very touching,, Oct. 11 2012
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
This review is from: District 9 [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Blomkamp does the amazing by combing roller coaster excitement with an intelligent context that makes all the noise about something. While some of the ideas are occasionally heavy handed or on the nose, it's so exciting to see a Hollywood action film that traffics in ideas, that I'm willing to forgive the occasional 'I get it already' moment, or logic lapse, or easy coincidence, or mediocre supporting performance.

The story is simple. A million plus grotesque looking, starving and sickly aliens get stranded on Earth when they essentially run out of fuel. And while at first humans try to reach out in friendship, before long corporations are trying to make money by exploiting their technology (especially, or course, their weapons) and the aliens are herded into a 'district' and walled in. (That the film is set in South Africa is one of those choices that feels like gilding the lily - even though that is the film-makers home). And it's clear that progressing from apartheid to Nazi style medical experiments and concentration camps is the next step.

While I wish the villains were less mustache twirling (some 'banality of evil' would have been even more chilling), the effects are great, and it's a film that grew, not shrank as it went along. For the first third I thought it was OK, the second pretty good, and by the end I loved it. And it's stuck with me.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aliens among us, May 16 2010
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: District 9 (Bilingual) (DVD)
It's rare at the moment to see a science fiction movie that isn't a remake, a cash-in, an adaptation, or a spinoff of another big success.

But "District 9" is not that kind of movie. Instead, the rarest kind of film -- a unique and original idea, handled in an intelligent manner, with no big name actors or flashy special effects. Director Neill Blomkamp instead creates a truly captivating sci-fi movie -- and by inverting the whole alien-invasion trope, Blomkamp also forces his audience to think. Hard.

Almost thirty years ago, an alien ship appeared over South Africa -- but it brought neither global destruction or salvation. When soldiers cut their way in, they found starving refugees who are now nicknamed "prawns."

Currently the aliens live as outcasts in District 9 while nations argue over them, and the company Multi-National United is selected to make their weapons work... which is not possible, because only alien DNA can activate them. Then during forced evictions of District 9, a typically callous MNU field operative named Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) accidently sprays himself with a black alien fluid in a little lab. Unfortunately, it starts turning him into one of the aliens.

Unsurprisingly, the MNU wants the secrets of Wikus' changing body, and the corporation is not terribly picky about how they get it. He manages to escape into the only place where he has a chance of surviving -- the very alien slum that he was trying to empty, District 9. And his only chance of surviving and becoming human again lies with an alien scientist who is trying to reactive the hovering "prawn" mothership.

Segregation. Blatant discrimination (including a racist nickname). Poverty. Shanty towns. Large companies and countries who care nothing for the despised minority population. It's painfully clear what would probably happen if spooky insectile aliens were to land on humanity's doorstep -- and Neill Blomkamp pulls no punches in his allegorical examination of apartheid, alien-style -- with the poor "prawns" as the universal victims. It's a hard, gruesome story with painfully graphic violence (Wikus gleefully bombs alien eggs) but it really needs to be that way.

Blomkamp also presents his story in a unique way -- much of it is filmed like a documentary, though thankfully it has none of the sickmaking shakiness of movies like "Cloverfield" or "The Blair Witch Project." There are plenty of spliced interviews, documentaries and news footage, which are cloaked in a feeling of gritty, dusty realism -- the dark industrial mothership with its slimy interior, the dusty slum, and the poor aliens who basically scavenge through garbage to survive.

But the last quarter of the movie also evolves it into a slam-bang explosion-riddled action flick, without losing its focus -- there are some brilliantly gruesome scenes where the aliens turn against some human attackers, and Wikus even gets to kick butt anime-style in an alien battle-suit. If there's a flaw with this movie, it's the whole idea that humans wouldn't be at all afraid of aliens who are clearly technologically superior to us -- they have a freaking SPACESHIP that's been sitting over Johannesburg for thirty years!

It also has the virtue of the most alien aliens seen in ages -- they move, look, speak (click click!) and think nothing like humans, and they're slimy and kinda creepy looking. They have no grandiose plans or pretty sparkly technology. Yet Blomkamp infuses them with a sense of nobility and strength, and despite their insectile faces he makes you feel what they do after awhile.

It's hard to believe that this is Sharlto Copley's first acting role, because his performance is so strong: Wikus is a pretty despicable human being, who has fun killing aliens and ejecting them from their homes. It takes a physical transformation into an "other" to change his spirit as well. And Blomkamp lets us see the pain of his transition even when we don't like him (including a heartrending phone call to his wife). The supporting actors also provide excellent lesser performances, but Copley rules this one.

"District 9" is a brilliantly original, hard-hitting movie that wraps a timeless human failing in an alien skin. It's one of the best movies of the year thus far, and certainly a classic in the making.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most thought-provoking alien movie I've seen to date, Jan. 18 2010
BookChick (Simcoe, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
I watched this with my husband because he was insistent that it would be good. I had my doubts. We've seen lots of alien movies with lots of action, but little plot, which doesn't appeal to me. This movie doesn't follow that formula, and in fact was one of the best alien movies that I've seen to date.

This movie poses the question "what would happen if aliens and humans has to co-exist on the same planet?" It's a thought-provoking question, as well as a valid point. In "Distict 9" aliens have landed on the planet and have no way home. They're called "prawns" and have been stuck together in a slum-like enclosure. They have very little rights and no respect and in fact are regarded as useless inconveniences. In the beginning of the movie the Prawns are being evicted from their slum and sent to live in an even worse space and they have absolutely no say in the matter.

This movie is filmed partially in a documentary style, and partially in the traditional movie style so that we can actually figure out what's going on "behind the scenes". The acting was excellent, the plot convincing, and even though there are some great action scenes that is not what carries the movie. I'm sincerely hoping that there will be a "Distict 10" on the big screen sometime soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Things don't always happen in the U.S., May 29 2011
K. Sidiqi (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: District 9 (Bilingual) (DVD)
An alien movie set in South Africa. The plot seems to be based somewhat on the Soweto slums and the reaction of the govt. at that time. A very good plot with good detail that makes the action quite believable.
A must see for sci-fi fans.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A big metaphor for racial inequality,all wrapped up in a Sci-Fi blanket-3 1/2 stars!, Dec 30 2011
Robert Badgley (St Thomas,Ontario,Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: District 9 (Bilingual) (DVD)
District 9(released Aug./09)is a film presented and produced by Lord of the Rings wonderkind Peter Jackson.Sony thought by putting his name conspicuously on the trailer credits it would entice the movie goers to give up their bucks at the box office...and it worked.What the tease trailer didn't show however was how long the film was going to be.I saw it on first release,and my opinion then,and after just having re-viewed it on DVD now,is the is a little long.Having said that though,it is a compelling movie and if you stick with it you will be rewarded.
The story starts out in /82 when a huge spacecraft came to hover over Johannesburg,S.A.The locals waited and waited and finally moved on the ship and entered it.Inside they ran into alot of fact over a million of them.They put them into nothing more than interment camps below,which was overseen by the MNU,a private security firm.
20 years come and go and the aliens,referred to as prawns because of their facial resemblance to them(they are bipedal),are rubbing the human population the wrong way.Finally comes the day when the MNU goes into the alien slums and tries to evict them for relocation away from the capital city and the peoples wrath.One Wikus Van Der Merwe(Sharlto Copley)is the desk jockey put in charge of the entire operation by the big boss of MNU,who just happens to be his father in law.Der Merwe is totally green and ill at ease at trying to deal with the situation.As we follow him and MRU around vis a vis a you-are-there type of camera style,we see and learn alot about how the aliens survive in the camp and how they are exploited not only by their own kind but by hard human outsiders,specifically a local band of Nigerian thugs who buy,sell and exploit them ad nauseum for their own wicked ends.
During what was supposed to be just another alien eviction Der Merwe encounters a father and son alien.Inside their shack he discovers a cylinder containing an unknown liquid.It accidentally sprays him in the face and after wiping it off he goes on with his job.The cylinder is bagged as evidence and sent to MNU headquarters for examination.As Der Merwe continues on he displays ever increasing signs of a terrible sickness coming on.After a couple of days his symptoms,such as losing fingernails and vomiting a yucky black ooze,he eventually finds he has grown an alien arm.The infection seems to be bent on turning him into a prawn.Back at the shack from whence the cylinder came from we learn that the father of the father/son aliens has been distilling a liquid for many years to be able to propel a spacecraft,which sits underneath his shack,up to the mother ship so they can leave.Der Merwe's confiscation of the cylinder has kyboshed his plans.
Der Merwe's sickness has not escaped the watchful medical arm of MNU however.In fact with his father in laws permission,they want to eventually dissect him and harvest his body parts.Before they do this however,they want him to try and shoot several alien weapons which have been bio-engineered to work only with alien DNA.Against his will Der Merwe is forced to test fire the weapons,even on an innocent prawn.When they start to try and cut him open he is able to break away from the table and escape the building.He returns to the father/son alien with his dilemma to ask for their help.The father tells him if they had the liquid they could take him to the mother ship to return him to normal.With the aliens help they plan a break in of the MNU facilities,and they actually succeed in regaining control of the all important cylinder of liquid propellant.
Returning back to the settlement,and when all is in place,the alien tells Der Merwe that the process to return him back to normal will take three years(a trip to his home planet and back!).Der Merwe is in shock and as MNU troops close in on them Der Merwe commandeers the ship,but it is taken down shortly after take off.Der Merwe is taken hostage by the Nigerians and at the same time the alien has activated the mothership to move and hover over the downed ship on earth.Both father and son make their way to the ship while Der Merwe barely escapes with his life from the Nigerians,with a walking alien battle machine.Der Merwe battles the MNU troops,protecting the alien as much as he can.The aliens reach the ship and the mother ship,right on cue,lifts the smaller ship into the air until it is safely inside.
The battle ends and the film comes to its conclusion as we see Der Merwe,now fully turned into a prawn,sitting on a junk pile making flowers out of bits of scrap metal,which he deposits on the front doorstep of his home,for his wife to find;waiting for the three years to end.
The film is a definite metaphor for apartheid,coincidentally(?)situated in the very country it originated from.As the film opens we see the tell tale signs throughout Johannesburg of Humans Only or No Aliens Allowed. But this theme has a twist to it,as the very black population which was oppressed by the white minority,which resulted in the apartheid term in the first place,is now oppressing,along with Afrikaners,a new minority in the aliens.
When we first encounter the desk jockey Der Merwe,now put in charge of an operation which is clearly out of his league,we see him as a weak kneed and condescending company man,smiling and talking uncomfortably as the camera follows he and his team from MNU HQ and into the alien ghetto.When he gets violently ill and eventually starts to change into an alien,our original feelings,along with Der Merwes condescension towards the aliens,also changes.In other words as he becomes more compassionate towards them(in fact turning into one),we become more compassionate towards him.Finally,as I stated earlier,it is an overly long movie and it is this along with the directors slight over attention to details(that possibly should otherwise have been left out) that are the two main things that I find that work against it.The rest;the story,the pace and the S/Fx,is all good.
Technically speaking the film is clear and crisp in its original a/r of 1:85:1.Extras include deleted scenes,commentary and a three part featurette on the making of the movie.
In conclusion,though a long and at times an unnecessarily detailed film,the movie as a whole is pretty good and if you stay with it it is worth watching.Recommended.
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District 9 (Bilingual) by Neill Blomkamp (DVD - 2009)
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