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Thoughts on 'District 9' . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, August 17, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. If you're a Sci-Fi geek or someone who gets turned on by anything having to do with aliens (I do not), then you could justify paying full price for 'District 9." If not, a matinee would deliver excellent value as this is an entertaining and clever film.

Will I Own It On DVD: Doubtful. I'd like to watch it one more time on Blu Ray, but I don't see a purchase in my future unless it was on sale for a deep, deep discount.

Overrall Grade: B+

1) You have to hand it to the marketing team for 'District 9' because this movie boasts no stars, a low budget ($30 million), a no name director and yet it has generated enormous buzz in recent weeks as a must-see summer movie (see recent cover of 'Entertainment Weekly' among other things). Good buzz can sometimes fizzle out when the actual product is released - see 'Snakes on a Plane' or better yet, don't - but 'District 9' warrants its attention as it provides a refreshing take on the alien movie genre and uses a propulsive style to keep the action moving at a crisp pace.

2) The plot follows what happens once an alien spaceship comes to Earth, and instead of landing in a major city in the United States (where most of these movies typically take place), it hovers above Johannesburg, South Africa until authorities converge on it and open the hatch to find a million starving aliens running around helpless in the dark. The government ends up taking them off the ship, and places them inside a plot of fenced-off land called District 9, a place that quickly becomes an alien ghetto. The aliens remain there for 20 years until a privately-run security company is asked to move them to concentration camps after the city residents become fed-up with their presence.

3) The movie is shot with a documentary style which gives it a newsworthy feel, a decision which establishes credibility that the scenario depicted in the film could actually be happening right now. This definitely helps ground the movie in some kind of reality that you can believe in for the two hour running time, and is a choice that allows for a suspension of disbelief to take hold that allows the audience to invest in the characters as they respond to increasingly difficult situations.

4) As I mentioned, there are no "stars" or name actors in this film. This is another fine choice by the producers since it only reinforces the believable fictional world that has been created. That being said, the main actor who plays an enthusiastic bureaucrat who goes from a promotion to the hunted following alien contamination is excellent. He nails both the bland, nice-guy middle manager corporate drone as well as the resourceful fugitive and gives the audience someone to root for among the action.

5) 'District 9' has been hailed as a monumental film in this genre, an allegorical alien tale that is as deep as it is entertaining. I don't entirely buy that line of thinking. It certainly has more on its mind than your standard alien movie fare. It also treads lightly on the effects of discrimination and apartheid, although it wisely doesn't beat you over the head with that message, and at the end of the day, the film is simply a clever and entertaining project that delivers the goods.


{Editor's Note: Since writing this review, 'District 9' opened as the #1 movie of the weekend with nearly $40 million in ticket sales.}


  1. kmwthay Says:
  2. I'm no sci-fi geek, but this movie is on my list to see. Now your review makes me want to play hookie and go see it right now.

  3. Linda Says:
  4. Luckily, one of the movie reviewers I like encouraged me to see this, and I'm glad he did. I was impressed. I've never considered myself a big sci-fi fan, but so far this year, the movies I've enjoyed most are Moon, Star Trek and now District 9. All solid, entertaining films. Those alien weapons were crazy!!!

  5. wigsf Says:
  6. Well, South Africa would be a place with experience in segregating one community from another, so that makes some sense.

  7. Kmwthay - I'm right there with you, and I did play hooky on Friday to see it. Ha. But I can't recommend that course of action for everyone. Safety first. It's a good though, so enjoy.

    Linda - Yep, it snuck up on me, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I stop short of calling it a masterpiece like some people, but it was really good. And that is funny about your summer of Sci Fi. Ha.

    WIGSF - Exactly. That's a fair portion of what the movie is concerned with, although again, not blatantly so as it still puts entertainment first.

  8. TROLL Y2K Says:
  9. I like the "no stars" idea. All today's hollyweird "stars" add to a film is cost.

  10. JLee Says:
  11. I tried to see this over the weekend, but it didn't pan out, so I am playing hooky tomorrow to see it. ;)

  12. Heff Says:
  13. I'll pass on this one entirely.

  14. Boxer Says:
  15. *sigh* I'm officially old. I just don't care. Although I do applaud a low budget, no over paid Hollywood actors and a director who derserved a chance. Once again you've saved me some dough.

    Now, where that's tip jar?

  16. Troll Y2K - I think you're seeing some of that reflected in reduced rates these days. But even reduced is still a sizable chunk of money.

    Jlee - Go for it. When I went, it was the most packed theater I've been to in a long while. Enjoy.

    Heff - Lots of people explode. Entirely. Help at all? Ha. Probably not. Consider DISH. Really.

    Boxer - Mr. Boxer might care. Ha. Maybe not. The genre doesn't do much for me in general, but this one is a cut above & so you might consider a rental sometime. I'll start working on a tip jar that is not virtual. Ha. It will probably be 'Inglorious Basterds' this coming weekend in case you are planning ahead.

  17. Boxer Says:
  18. You're right, Mr. Boxer would LOVE this movie, good thing he has a brother and cousin who also like them. Tarantino and Pitt? I'm so there!

  19. Boxer - Mr. Boxer is a man after my own heart as I too have a brother who will accompany me to this kind of thing since my wife could generally care less (and I don't blame her. :))

  20. Miss Ash Says:
  21. I saw sci fi geek and skipped over your review ha! No thanks!

  22. Farzan Says:
  23. Just saw the movie yesterday and posted my review today. It was great and definitely refreshing to see after a crappy load of films this summer. It was a smart move screening this at Comic Con because it was close to its release date and it gave comic book fans a chance to spread positive reactions from this film. I'm definitely going to own the Blu Ray because I'm very curious as to how its going to sound. I already know its going to be demo worthy, but I just need to compare it to Cloverfield since that sounded amazing.

  24. My friend asked if I wanted to go see this with him this weekend. He acted surprised when I said no. I've heard nothing but good things about it, but I just don't have the desire to see it. The new Tarantino movie on the other hand . . .

  25. Miss Ash - Fair enough as I generally do the same with the romantic comedy and horror genres. But I do occasionally dip into them & this one is good enough to try at some point. Maybe. Ha. Life is too short for things that you care nothing about.

    Farzan - Will have to check out your review . . . definitely agree it was refreshing as it's been a long slog of crap for awhile now this summer. I bet it will be very good on Blu Ray, and I hear there's already talk of a sequel.

    Native Minnow - I wasn't super excited to see it, but there was nothing else out this weekend. I usually end up liking the movies I go see when I hear they're good, but am not too excited to see for some reason or another. Finally, I'm planning to see the new Tarantino this coming weekend, so the review will be up next Monday.

  26. BostonPobble Says:
  27. I'm hoping to see this one in the theatres but will definitely catch it on dvd if necessary. Will it lose too much on the small screen? We just got to Harry Potter last night, so we're more than a little behind on our movie attendance.

  28. Bostonpobble - You actually jumped me on 'Potter.' Meant to see it a few times, but haven't yet. As for 'Distict 9' it will lose a little bit in the transition, but you'd still be OK to wait. That being said, if you have time, a matinee viewing would be ideal some afternoon.


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