Starring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Louis Minnaar, Vanessa Haywood.
Written by Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp.
Twenty years ago, an alien mothership parked itself in the sky above Johannesburg. The craft revealed a cargo of malnourished, shrimp-like extraterrestrials that were eventually placed into an internment camp on the surface called “District 9”. But after years of discontent between the aliens and the human residents of Johannesburg, the government finally decides to displace the alien population to an area well clear of the city, putting the private military contractor MNU in charge. Wikus van der Merwe (Copley) is the MNU agent directing the operation (a hilarious eviction process), and when he is accidentally exposed to an alien compound he begins a steady metamorphosis into one of the “prawns”. Hunted by the very corporation he had worked for – in the hopes of utilising his hybrid form to finally manipulate alien technology – Wikus flees to the only place he’ll be safe – the alien slum known as “District 9”. This is quite a unique film, seamlessly combining a pseudo-documentary sensibility with standard cinema techniques, and although this is not a new concept, the combination has rarely been handled so skilfully. Brimming with a keen sense of humour and biting socio-political commentary, District 9 also manages to stomp on a variety of film clichés, turning traditional story elements on their heads. The unknown Sharlto Copley is simply wonderful as the hapless Wikus, and some impressive CGI is used to excellent effect, especially in the rip-snorting final half hour. Destined to become a cult classic and perhaps, to a certain degree influential (and undoubtedly yet hopefully to a lesser degree, a template for copycats), District 9 is one of the most enjoyable films of the year.
By Wadrick Jones