So the Neill Blomkamp is next up in the Sci-Fi Chronicles book (I am loving this thing) with his first feature film, District 9, that was produced by Peter Jackson. As a commentary on race, apartheid, and just how badly we as a species can exploit and hurt others, District 9 may be more poignant now than when it was first released.
In 1982, a spaceship came to a stop over Johannesburg, the aliens within, were not much more than a slave-like work force, now refugees. The racism comes into it immediately, as everyone, even those employed by the government, refer to the aliens as Prawns, because, gosh, don’t they look like them?
After some 20-odd years living in a shanty town in South Africa, everyone wants them out, they say the aliens have brought poverty, and rampant crime, though we get hints and sometimes blatant reveals through the film, that these things are actually caused by humans, taking advantage of the situation. To facilitate this move, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) has been put in charge of delivering eviction notices.
Wikus may not be the brightest star in the sky, but he loves his wife, Tania (Vanessa Haywood), and works hard at what he does. Today, he’s been followed by a film crew, so there is a bit of a documentary feel to some of the film, there are security feeds for other parts, and then there is the film camera itself.
Wikus, during his movements through District 9, becomes infected with a bit of the alien bio-tech, and it begins affecting changes upon his person. Some nice body horror bits highlight this sequence as Wikus slowly finds parts of his body now resembling the aliens he was willing to treat so poorly.
His employers are happy though because now, if there’s a way to replicate the alien DNA through this bio-tech, it will allow them to use the alien technology especially the weaponry. So very quickly Wikus finds himself a hunted man, and hated by all sides.
I love the visual effects in this movie, the one I love most though is the ship, just hanging there, and the shots of the helicopters flying around it, I dig those. Happily, most of the creature effects work nicely as well, as almost all of them are computer generated. Blomkamp and his team handle them properly though so you just accept the beings as real; they react with the world they reside in, and therefore have a reality.
I remember not loving this one when I first saw it, the hype on it was so huge that I was expecting something else, not necessarily more, just else. Now, going back and re-visiting it, I really enjoyed it this time around, and as mentioned near the start of this post… it resonates even more now than it did when it first came out.