District 9

Take one ugly political situation, add a dash of humor, a pinch of gore, a dollop of action, sprinkle liberally with shaky cameras; bake for 2 hours and what will you get? One epic mockumentary that is at times funny, at times moving, and at times downright frightening.

What happens when approximately 2 million aliens, starving and stranded, appear over South Africa? We try to do the right thing: District 9 is an internment camp for what appear to be a ship of alien refugees, from places unknown, for reasons untold. The “prawns”, as they are called, were evacuated from the mothership and located in a tent city that was supposed to be a temporary home for them.

It’s now 20 years later, the tent city has become a massive slum.

The aliens still have no rights. They have to be licensed to bear their children, and “unauthorised” eggs are aborted by flame thrower while officials celebrate the sound of alien eggs popping in the heat. Their technologies are seized, or traded to Nigerian crime lords for cheap cuts of pork or cans of cat food.

District 9 starts off as a light hearted documentary about the arrival of aliens over Johannesburg. The slum and anti-alien sentiment has started to get out of hand, and the MNU is about to step in to relocate the aliens to a larger facitity further away from the city.

Things start to turn dark. Interviews with family and friends – one now a convicted felon – suggest that something bad is going to happen to the main character, the dorky seemingly innocent Wikus. The MNU plunge into the slum of dumps and corrogated iron, escorted by armed infantry, and begin banging on doors, advising the aliens that they are being served an evicition notice, and they have to sign to confirm that they are aware of this.

It’s legal bullshit, covering their own asses.

As they continue, they uncover caches of weapons, a hut of alien eggs, chop shops. As the director of MNU states after the incident – far too many alien lives were lost that day. You would almost think that someone cares. But not all is well at MNU.

I’ll leave it to you to discover the dark and twisted turns that the rest of this movie takes. At times, the documentary angle is stretched a little far out of it’s definition, but if you pretend that some scenes are labelled “dramatic reenactment”, you can follow the story fine perfectly well. The action in the final stages of the story could be ripped straight out of an action/horror worthy of Ridley Scott, and combined with the headache-inducing hand-held-camera style of shooting, it is a graphic nightmare of exploding bodies and alien weaponry.

Do go along to see this, but keep in mind that this is more than a wild ride of vicious aliens and amazing technology. This is political commentary, and the things it has to say are DARK.

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~ by ghostwolfe on August 15, 2009.

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