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Review: District 9

Some years ago aliens crashed landed in Johannesburg. Despite their insistence that they were there in peace, officials deemed it necessary to contain them on Earth. Soon, the "prawns" as they are named, are relocated from their ship to a camp below.

Citizens are outraged that the prawns live so close to their homes and a group is assembled to move the aliens once again. Should they resist, mercenaries with flamethrowers and guns will assist them. Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is a blissfully unaware bureaucrat set about earning his way up the government ladder by evicting the "prawns" from their reservation in Africa.

Whether it was a matter of hubris, or irony, while casting aliens out of their homes, Wikus contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. Once that information spreads, Wikus very quickly becomes the most valuable man in the world, as well as the most hunted. In his DNA lies the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology that could make some arms manufactures very, very wealthy. Fighting for his life, there is only one place left for him to hide: District 9.

One of the aliens, named Christopher Johnson takes pity on Wikus and attempts to help him regain his former form. Johnson is not one of the mindless droves chasing cat food from local markets. Through Christopher Johnson and his son we are able to see past the unfriendly appearance of the "prawns" and sympathize.

Quickly the audience discovers that in the quest for gaining unimaginable wealth from selling the prawns' technology that we have become less human than the beings we are trying to exterminate. District 9 is unusual, in it's approach of setting the viewer on the side of the aliens. Sure E.T. was also pro-alien, but not to the extent that one roots actively for the destruction of man.

Like all good science fiction District 9 gleans real-world implications from the allegory onscreen. If the conflict captured verite-style between aliens and humans seems reminiscent of the horrors of current immigration woes, it's not a coincidence. Director Neill Blomkamp put it there deliberately, however the allegory is sometimes too on the nose.

More frustrating is that Blomkamp's film transitions from sci-fi to mindless action flick during the film's third act. It is too bad that Blomkamp didn't continue along the lines of District 9's first two acts instead of venturing into Michael Bay territory with pig-launching robots. Still, District 9 is worthy of the adaptation from short film to feature.


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