I went a very long time without watching District 9. I was lucky enough to not be spoiled by the film’s plot during that time. When I finally watched the film, I was genuinely surprised at the direction the film went. I am a bit saddened that I saw Avatar before District 9 because both films have a lot of the same plot points. I do think District 9 was stronger than Avatar, but I believe if I had watched District 9 before Avatar, I would have enjoyed it even more.
District 9 is an adaptation of the short film Alive In Joburg. The feature film is in a documentary style and set in 2010. The film opens with humans talking about how an alien ship suddenly appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa back in 1982. The alien ship just sat idle for an extended period of time until the humans sent a team to investigate. They found the aliens in a weak state. The humans removed all the aliens from the ship and brought them down to the city below. The aliens were suppose to live among the humans in Johannesburg, but very quickly, racial conflicts arose. The aliens were forced into a government controlled camp called District 9. The documentary style continues with the human interviewees talking how the aliens are now going to be removed from District 9 and forced into a new camp. An under prepared human, played by Sharlto Copley, was put in charge of the team that would move the aliens.
After a few scenes of the team trying to force the aliens to move, something goes wrong unexpectedly. This is when the film has a dramatic shift in its story and its tone. Before, the film was a documentary with talking heads and now it becomes a hand held action drama with Sharlto Copley character trying to fix the mistake he made. I did enjoy the direction the film went, but it was unexpected, and not what I assumed the film would be about. I believe I would have enjoyed the film even more if it were all in the documentary style and a story that would have fit that style.
This film is far from the normal action packed alien Sci-fi movie. The main theme of District 9 was xenophobia. The entire film was a metaphor for the Aparthid in South Africa. I would put District 9 in the middle of my list of favorite films out of the 10 Best Picture Nominees Of 2009. The production of the film had a very low budget but still managed to produce amazing visuals. I am, once again, saddened that Avatar’s revolutionary visuals and technique overshadows District 9, especially since District 9 used a fraction of the budget that Avatar did.
District 9 was directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson. The two were originally teaming up to create a Halo movie, but they created District 9 instead. I am very happy this deeper and more thoughtful film was created instead of a weaker, geared towards frat boys, video game movie.