District 9 Directed by Neill Blomkamp Produced by Peter Jackson Genres: Action, Science fiction, drama 112 minutes Rated R (USA): Swearing, violence, gore Rating: INCREDIBLE [None of my reviews for any movie or game have spoilers unless mentioned!] Opening words: Picture a world much like our own, torn by racial and ethnic turmoil, a planet whose inhabitants cannot find a way to peacefully coexist with each other. Now take that same concept and apply it to alien visitors. In Neill Blomkamp's District 9, an alien ship has appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa and it's passengers are looking for refuge. Fast forward twenty years and you have a brutal conflict looming. The aliens have been put into a special area called District 9 which amounts to nothing more than a slum. The aliens, rudely referred to as "prawns" because of their visual similarities to the sea creature of the same name, are largely unwelcome and are being evicted from their homes to be moved to another place (one that is eventually referred to as a "concentration camp") when a serious problem arises. Wikus van der Merwe (pronounced "wick-us" not "why-kus" don't ask me about the last name) is a largely unimpressive and dorky looking man who is running this field operation to evict and move the prawn to their new area to prevent further violence. Without spoiling anymore, Wikus begins to learn more in a very personal way about the struggles of the prawn and just what the Multi-National United (MNU) are ready to do. Style: The movie has an awesome sense of style to it. The story is sandwiched between a beginning and ending that are done in the documentary style as people are interviewed and "footage" is shown. The narrative retains a bit of this feel but for the most part, the transition into the main story away from the documentary style is fluid and subtle and will not break your sense of disbelief. One of my favorite touches is the alien ship. It's absolutely humongous and looms over the city like a forebodingly dark omen. It is motionless and has been for the last two decades as all the prawn were moved out of it. The atmosphere is visceral, real, and gritty. You'll find yourself laughing, angry, and crying at several parts and you'll swear that you just watched a Discovery channel special, truly tricking your mind into thinking the whole experience was real. Characters/Actors: There are no well-known actors and that's what I love in movies that attempt a darker, more realistic tone because we the audience will not be deterred by thoughts of fame and past work when a big name struts onto the screen. All the actors do a superb job with their realism and talents and their characters really come to life. One rather strange trait about District 9 that I really enjoyed is Wikus himself. You don't really know whether to like him or hate him until the very end of the film and even then, you still may not be sure. He is a dork, plain and simple and he's way out of his league walking into the desolate streets of District 9 flanked by heavily armed guards. This ambiguity of emotion towards Wikus helps the audience enjoy a less bias view of the movie and its story. We're rooting with and against Wikus in several ways and instances and it creates a strange sense of disconnect that's useful for what the movie is doing. However, it's not difficult to feel for him during most of the film, he's not a total prick. Aside from Wikus, the other prominent character is a mercenary named Koobus Venter played by David James. He isn't a main character, but he is definitely a serious antagonist and is seen throughout the entire movie and all the way into the end of the film. Although his wasn't particularly a speaking role, you could feel the power of his performance for even a minor character. I hope to see him in more films as time goes on. Plot: The plot is probably the weakest area of the film since it's not going to answer most of your questions. There is almost no information as to why the aliens are there, how they are able to communicate and how humans were able to communicate with them. Also, doesn't it seem odd that these aliens just parked on Earth and not a single noise is heard from any other nation? "Meh, it's South Africa, they suck too much already, let them take care of it" seems to be the mentality of the rest of the world. However, the story we're thrust into is fresh and grimy but in a good way if that makes sense. But it certainly does not care that you have questions. Effects and sound: Superb quality on both fronts. The score is great and only kicks in at appropriate times leaving the rest of the movie in glorious suspense. The CGI is top notch and the aliens look fantastic, like you could reach out and touch them. If this makes any sense, their style makes them realistic since they more closely resemble bugs or crab-like creatures rather than something completely bizarre and awkward. Closing thoughts: District 9 was a thrill ride and worth every moment of it. It's gross, fun, creepy, powerful, thoughtful and a dozen other adjectives all at once but it does it without being too heavy or preachy. You'll find yourself changing opions frequently of several characters, the aliens included, as time wears on in the film. The most hard part of this review is not revealing what happens to Wikus near the very beginning as this even is what causes the rest of the events in the film to transpire. Go see it now, that's all I can say. If you enjoyed Children of Men, you'll love it. The film has a very similar feel just with a pinch of sci-fi trickled in. If you didn't like Children of Men, do not worry and give this movie a try.