Starring: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Running Time: 112 mins
District 9 is a South African film about a world where aliens have come to earth and been forced to settle in a slum area of Johannesburg called District 9. As the aliens gradually become ghettoised, and the humans become more unsettled about their presence, a huge corporation takes it upon itself to relocate the aliens, leading to conflict and tension between the two sides.
Well, much like Elysium, this is a film that starts off with a great idea, but quickly descends into generic action territory. Fortunately, the idea here is a lot better, cleverer and more subtle than Elysium, and coupled with some stunning visual effects, this film was at times very engrossing, however it rapidly became dull once it switched into shootouts and explosions.
Let me say that the first act of this film is excellent. The concept of the segregation of aliens and hostile feelings towards their presence from the humans is an ingenious, almost tongue-in-cheek note about apartheid, and for the first half an hour or so, I was massively intrigued in the politics of the difficult and tense relocation program undertaken by this company.
The other thing is that this film sets it universe up so well. It starts with ‘stock footage’ of the aliens’ arrival, and is lined with documentary-style interviews for most of the way through, and that really helped to create a sense of realism which drew me further and further into the story.
Also, the special effects here are incredible. The ‘prawns’ (the aliens) look so realistic, and what’s most impressive is that their movement is so fluid and human-like that it really fits into the backdrop, and although it may be subtle, that constantly looming spaceship above Johannesburg makes a brilliantly daunting atmosphere that lasts for the majority of the story.
However, the problem with this film is that, after it takes a very dramatic turn after the first act, it alls gets a little bit predictable and quite boring. Although it’s a shocking and initially exciting twist, the whole idea quickly dies down and paves the way for what is to become a very generic action thriller.
Basically, throughout this period of the film, you’re meant to empathise with the two main characters who are trying to get themselves out of a sticky situation, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so, not because it was too unrealistic, but because the characters had developed into something completely different to their original personalities so abruptly that I just wasn’t interested in supporting them.
Ultimately, this film becomes an action film just full of gunshots and explosions, and for the last half an hour or so, it really bored me to watch a long action sequence that was not so well-directed, poorly acted, and didn’t add any emotion or depth to a story that was initially so intelligent, and that’s why this gets a 6.5 from me.