District 9 puts a science fiction spin on “illegal aliens.” Based on the short film Alive in Joburg, first time director Neill Blomkamp sought to make an alien invasion as realistic as possible. By using themes of xenophobia and segregation. Along with parallels to South African Apartheid. Although Peter Jackson produced District 9, his original intention was to make a Halo movie. When that didn’t work out, weapons were recycled and Blomkamp decided to expand on his short film instead. District 9 has a very unique portrayal of aliens landing on Earth.
Instead of America, Prawns land in Johannesburg with the sole intention of seeking refuge. So they receive it in the Prawn only slums of District 9. The cast of unknowns and documentary style is so convincing, you’d swear Prawns were real. Prawns are unsightly cockroach-like aliens that love cat food and speak in clicks that humans are somehow able to understand. Although humanity is meant to fear them, the Prawns are more sympathetic than any human in the movie. Blomkamp’s buddy Sharlto Copley plays MNU alien affairs agent Wikus. He’s mostly indifferent to the Prawn struggle, but all that changes when he’s exposed to alien goo.
Wikus has a very unexpected mutation that makes him the target of cannibalistic Nigerian gangs and rogue mercenaries in District 9. Wikus is still kind of a jerk, so I connected with Prawn scientist Christopher Johnson and his son a lot more. Christopher’s primary goal is to fly up to his spaceship and save his people, but he does promise to cure Wikus (in 3 years!). The Prawn weapons are impressive and lead to an explosive conclusion that I’m still waiting to see a sequel for. While District 9 was definitely worthy of a Best Picture nomination and underrated compared to other 2009 alien movie Avatar, the rough South African style can get really uncomfortable. Exactly what makes District 9 so effective.