I’ll start with the good, as there was a lot to be admired here. I did enjoy the Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield camera effects and felt they added a nice touch to the documentary feel of the film at times. Putting us right in the action, with blurring screens and close ups of the conditions the ‘prawns’ lived in hit home a little harder than it may have done.
I also loved the character of ‘Christopher’ and the interaction between him and his son was so heart-warming and I admit to having a tear in my eye towards the end, first when his son came and sat on his knee and then when he died after telling his son they were going home. OK he didn’t die there but it was heavily implied that he would (from body language). Also the whole fact that he was treated as a ghetto ‘foreigner’ with no mind, when he was clearly of superior intelligence to us was done rather well too.
Having the unknown as the main character and a very ordinary character at that was a nice move, as we were able to watch the breakdown through his eyes and feel more of what was going on. I thought the actor did a more than commendable job and added to the realism of the film.
There were many political elements that were done well and the scene where a man could let military scientists have his son-in-law for research purposes, at the promise of money, was both tragic and expected. For this was science-fiction at its core, that the genre isn’t about the future but a social commentary of where we are today, that we are prepared to sell each other for profit, that we treat immigrants with less respect than household pets and that we have very offensive names for those we believe lower than us. The race in District 9 are called ‘prawns’ because not only do they look like them to us but that they are “bottom feeders”, a term I am sure has been used to describe those at the bottom of the chain in human society.
I first liked that the ship landed above Johannesburg, until I found out it was by accident and then I thought it became more of an overkill on the part of the writers, a case of, maybe the audiences won’t know we are directly relating to our treatment of the African ghettos and so we will put District 9 there.
I thought the representation of the military was stereotypical but warranted but also I agreed that there was a little too much action, too much of the ‘cool’ Alien weaponry and too many unnecessary head exploding shots. We got you the first few times, you didn’t have to keep doing it. The super robot, manned by our protagonist was a little too much he’s down, he’s up, he’s down, he’s up for me too.
All in all a very good watch with some excellent scenes, however, a lot less in the way of heavy action scenes and more on the dialogue and social commentary and it could have been a classic.