Sunday, September 20, 2009

District 9

by Pa Rock
Citizen Film Critic

District 9 is an allegorical tale of racism and apartheid with impoverished space aliens being the downtrodden group. It is set in Johannesburg, South Africa, just to ensure that viewers get the nuanced meaning of the film.

Here's the plot: A colossal space ship, something on the order of the mother ships in Independence Day, parks itself above Johannesburg, in the 1980's. After waiting a considerable time for something to happen, nosy earthlings break into the ship and find it full of weak and malnourished aliens, creatures that look somewhat like large, bi-pedal cockroaches. The South African government takes them from the spacecraft and ferries them to earth where they are placed in an immense, fenced-in interment camp that looks something like Soweto in its glory days.

The aliens get along as well as they can in their concentration camp, eating canned cat food provided by the government, trading their weapons (inoperable by humans) to Nigerian thugs for extra canned cat food and the services of Nigerian prostitutes, and rummaging through immense piles of garbage.

After two decades or so of living like animals at the suffrage of the South African government, public pressures force the government to try and remove the aliens to a more remote site. A bumbling bureaucrat, deftly portrayed by Sharlto Copley, is assigned the mission of going into the camp and getting the aliens to agree to sign orders of eviction. While there he suffers a strange infection and things start to get hinky.

This movie is filmed as a docudrama with various people telling the story through short, news-style interviews. The story is woven from several different directions, but eventually becomes a tale of courage and partnership between the bureaucrat and a very skilled alien who goes by the name Christopher Johnson. It features action, suspense, a Transformer on steroids, and enough violence and death to make the governor of California blush!

District 9 has about run its course in theatres, and will soon be available in your local video stores. I rate it a strong "rent" or even "buy." It has a message that unfortunately will always be pertinent somewhere.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I thought this movie was fantastic. They made the downtrodden group to resemble giant cockroaches who smell horrible and eat cat food yet still managed to make them the likeable group above the humans... Good stuff.