20 years back, an alien ship comes to rest above Johannesburg, South Africa. After observing the ship for a few months, humans entered the ship by breaking in and finds extraterrestrials inside the ship. They are subsequently moved into a government camp known as District 9 inside Johannesburg. The extraterrestrials are confined inside District 9 and the humans nicknamed them as prawns based on their appearance.
At present, District 9 has turned into a slum and the South African government decides to relocate 1.8 million extraterrestrials to a new government camp known as District 10. In order to execute this decision, a private company named Multinational United(MNU) is hired. One of the top level executives at MNU, Piet Smit, entrusts this job to Wikus van der Merwe(Sharlto Copley) who incidently is the former’s son-in-law.
A naive Wikus decides to serve eviction notices to the extraterrestrials before asking them to move to District 10. So, he enthusiastically enters District 9. But very soon, events unfold wherein Wikus is persecuted by the humans and is on the run. He has to return to District 9 for help. This forms the rest of the story.
Neill Blomkamp directs this movie which is an adaptation of his short film named Alive in Joburg. The underlying themes of the movie is human mistrust towards anything foreign and corporate greed. The story is clichéd. Yet, it stands apart primarily due to the way in which the story unfolds. The story is told in a documentary format where in the some of the characters are being interviewed after the events. The documentary is interspersed with actual happenings. The actual happenings are shot using handheld cameras which is constantly moving or overlooking someone’s shoulder. This technique makes the movie thrilling and racy. The CG is difficult to distinguish in this movie. The background score is haunting and add extra dimension to the drama that is being played out in the screen.
The second thing that works for the movie is Sharlto Copley’s performance. During the course of the movie, Sharlto effectively transforms from the naive pleasant employee into a fugitive trying to survive. Wikus is a coward and is often conflicted. He is helpless and pushed to a corner when he reacts; trying to bring normalcy back into his life. During the initial phases, it is Sharlto’s energy, in introducing his compatriots and explaining the process while serving eviction notices, that gives the movie a fast-paced tone. Sharlto’s anonymity in the Hollywood arena also acts against the audience pre-judging the character.
Must watch! The subtexts may be lost in the action. But it is still thrilling. This is not suitable for children and those who can’t watch graphic violence. There are a lot of bodies bursting out in this movie!