District 9 (15)



SciFi (2009)
112mins US

Starring: Louis Minnaar, Jason Cope, David James, Mandla Gaduka, Kenneth Nkosi, Vanessa Haywood, Sharlto Copley
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer(s): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

In the near future, aliens are granted refugee status on Earth and segregated in the titular containment facility in Johannesburg. When the increasingly xenophobic human population turns against the extra-terrestrials, the Alien Affairs Office of Multi-National United (MNU) co-ordinates a mass relocation to a new facility. In the process, field operative Wikus van de Merwe is infected with an alien virus.

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LondonNet Film Review
District 9

Forget Transformers, Terminator Salvation, GI Joe and even the rejuvenated crew of the Starship Enterprise... the science-fiction blockbuster of the year has arrived...

District 9. Sony Pictures ReleasingProduced by Peter Jackson and shot on location in Johannesburg, District 9 has taken America by storm - and now the alien invasion begins on these shores. Director Neill Blomkamp establishes his heightened reality through a breathlessly-constructed patchwork of 24-hour newsreel footage from the South African Broadcasting Corporation, documentary excerpts, interviews and tour-de-force action sequences. Amid the miasma of film-making styles, all expertly interwoven by editor Julian Clarke, a heartbreaking morality tale about humanity's intolerance emerges, augmented with state-of-the-art visual effects from the wizards at Jackson's Weta (also responsible for his Lord Of The Rings trilogy). It is truly remarkable for a first-time feature film director to keep a tight rein on all these disparate elements and meld them with such dynamism and style.

Blomkamp opens in the early 1980s with faux news footage of a giant spaceship hovering over the largest city in his native South Africa. On-board, the military discovers thousands of malnourished aliens, which are granted refugee status on Earth and segregated in the titular containment facility, away from an increasingly xenophobic human population. Over the next two decades, the camp becomes a ghetto, rife with crime, and locals turn against the extra-terrestrials known by the derogatory nickname of 'prawns'. In response, the Alien Affairs Office of Multi-National United co-ordinates the mass relocation of refugees to a new facility outside of the city. In the process, field operative Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is infected with an alien virus and begins to change into a xenomorph, losing his human form with each passing hour. Friends and family turn against Wikus and he seeks sanctuary in District 9, where he discovers an unexpected ally in an alien called Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope). "I will fix you, but first I must save my people," explains the refugee. Thus Wikus helps Christopher and his son Little CJ to board the mothership, with gun-toting chief enforcer Koobus (David James) and Nigerian warlord Obesandjo (Eugene Khumbanyiwa) in hot pursuit.

District 9. Sony Pictures ReleasingDistrict 9 is an edge-of-seat thriller that seamlessly combines live action with digital effects to evoke a startlingly original vision of a future in which humans and aliens live side by side, albeit in disharmony. The 'prawns' interact perfectly with their environment, and while they are physically repulsive, we grow fond of these tentacled creatures as they endure endless persecution. Blomkamp's script, co-written with Terri Tatchell, doesn't stint on the action set-pieces but manages to tug the heartstrings too, both in the relationships between Christopher and his son, and Wikus and his wife Tania (Vanessa Haywood). A spectacular finale leaves one massive plot thread blowing in the wind, offering plenty of scope for an all-guns-blazing District 10.

- Jo Planter


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