Posts Tagged ‘racial undertones


District 9

district9posterWhat is District 9? It doesn’t seem like a lot of people know exactly what this movie is. One of my friends even thought it was an animated movie, and was soon shocked to find out it was an alien flick (she hates aliens). A combination of Independence Day and Cloverfield, District 9 is entertaining and exciting from start to finish. The movie acknowledges a paralyzing human fault; a fault that causes mankind to try and control, and ultimately destroy, what it does not understand. This theme is the backbone for the entire movie and caries the plot to an extraordinary, yet sobering, finally. Coupled with amazing CGI, incredible action, and a very powerful underlining message; District 9 will prove to be this summer’s sleeper hit.

The first half of District 9 is shot in a documentary style with some hilarious comedic elements. The “documentary” is set in a world where an alien space craft has entered earth’s atmosphere, and has practically broken down over South Africa. Because of the damages to the ship, the alien life forms inside, known as “Prawns”, have to evacuate their ship and relocate to earth. But because their extreme population, and human discrimination, the Prawns are forced to live in segregated slums. Soon District 9 is riddled with crime and violence. In order to alleviate the problem the government has decided to move the Proudes to a government controlled camp. Given the task of evacuating the aliens is our protagonist, Wilkus Van De Merwe. From this point on the movie strays away from its documentary stylings and turns into a full fledged sci-fi action flick. Wilkus is exposed to alien biotechnology and becomes a government experiment. He must ally himself with the same aliens he tired to evict in order to fight the government who once embraced him as human.


District 9 is written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. Who? Yeah exactly. Up until this point Neil has not been involved in many mainstream projects. He only has four directing credits under his belt with District 9 being the first to hit the big screen. Most notably, Neill’s expertise lye in the art of visual effects. He has done the effects for “Smallville”, “Dark Angel”, and “Stargate SG-1”.  Learning this little factoid, it is much clearer why the special effects in this movie are out of this world (sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself). When creating the special effects for an alien movie there is always a thin line of cheesiness. If it is done wrong, the aliens just look dumb, and it kills the movie. This was not the case for District 9. Neill had the very difficult task of creating an effective alien species that is shown for the majority of the movie. The CGI had to be perfect to pull this off, and he nailed it. The Proudes were surprisingly realistic which definitely made the movie. Not only was the CGI dead on, but District 9 actually had a plot. I know right, an alien movie with a plot, which actually makes sense, unheard of! Neill sucks in the audience with a playful documentary style beginning that submerges the viewer into this world of alien poverty. Right when you are comfortable and laughing at these “silly” aliens you are tossed into a full fledged action movie with a front row seat to exploding humans.


Not only was the movie well directed but it had very good characterization. Sharlto Copley plays Wilkus Van De Merwe, the goofy MNU agent who heads up the alien eviction mission. Copley does an amazing job of taking Wilkus through an extreme character change. Wilkus starts off as this nerdy, social awkward guy who takes his job way too seriously. He reminds me a lot of Murray from Flight of the Conchords. Wilkus is that guy who absolutely loves his job, and will make it known to everyone around him that he is in charge. Once Wilkus is exposed to alien technology he experiences a rapid transition of character. He goes from having all the power, to being virtually powerless. Copley does an incredible job of giving this character a transformation.  There is an intense internal struggle with Wilkus as he is slowly changing into what he originally tried to control. It is a very interesting dynamic to see how Wilkus loses all his power but gains a lifetime of internal strength. His circumstances force him to become a stronger individual. It is also beautiful to see how Wilkus’ outlook on life changes once everything he knew is turned upside down. It is a perfect case of walking in another man’s shoes so to speak.


I love a movie that actually makes you think, while blowing up everything on the screen. It appeases my intellectual side along with my brute-man side. District 9 has been causing a lot of talk about its racial undertones. I don’t know why there is debate because it is pretty obvious what the movie is trying to say. It definitely attacks the natural ability of all human beings to judge that which is different from them. There is a direct correlation between the treatment of the aliens and the treatment of different racial groups throughout history. The aliens are segregated and even given their own racial slur. The word “Prawn” is obviously meant to be derogatory slang for their species. Sound like race issues in America? The aliens were not fully understood so they were also placed in concentration camps for study and observation. Sound similar to the Japanese or Jewish concentration camps in WWII? If aliens were to someday discover earth then we would most definitely, as a human race, act in the same fashion. It is a sad reality which seems to be the nature of all human beings. We must control those of weaker social status and exploit them for person gain. If we can not then we tend to destroy them. I loved that they took a human character and exposed them to the strife of alien existence. It completely changed the feel of the movie and had you routing for the aliens. Not many movies do this. Because of the same control issues, most alien movies make the alien the bad guy. District 9 starts off by making the aliens look savage, but then gives you a closer look at their world; a look that puts you in their shoes, and shows that in the end they were just victims of circumstance.

Well made alien CGI, captivating plot, and controversial undertones, make District 9 a must see this summer. Let’s be honest who doesn’t like seeing alien weapons blow some people to pieces? It’s like Rambo with lasers. I knew that would get you off your butt. It is definitely a fun movie and perfect for fans of the Sci-fi genre. There are even cute alien babies and a love story, perfect date movie!