Set in the not-so-distant future, Peter Jackson’s District 9 explores the social repercussions of an alien spaceship hovering over Johannesburg and the subsequent human reaction and attempt to facilitate the ship’s inhabitants.
The film subtly raises important issues regarding racial segregation and its message is hard-hitting. The aliens are not immune from racial slurs, being described as ‘prawns’ by the humans of the film for their distinctive features.
Following human attempts to re-locate the aliens of District 9 to District 10, itself described as a concentration camp, the film’s documentary style makes its story even more striking.
District 9 takes the best elements of films such as The Fly (1986), Enemy Mine (1985) and Transformers (2007) and successfully creates a powerful film.
Relying solely on the story and its telling, the film shirks away from the cinematic tendency to base all alien invasion films in America while the use of a lesser known South African cast provides both colour and poignancy to the film.
Sharlto Copley’s Wikus Van De Merwe provides the film with a believable and likeable protagonist as he behaves both selfishly and desperately and it is his relationship with the prawns that is perhaps the compelling aspect in District 9.
An evocative and powerful film, District 9 is a must see.