One of the treats of the summer has to be District 9, a scrappy, wholly entertaining sci-fi action pic that leaves you wanting more. Directed and co-written (with Terri Tatchell) by Neil Blomkamp, District 9 is best seen with no prior knowledge whatsoever. It’s best not to know what’s coming next, and to be pleasantly surprised, than to know exactly what you’re about to see.It isn’t even that District 9 is so unusual you will be shocked, like the way we were all supposed to have been by the recent footage of the upcoming Jim Cameron sci-fi epic, Avatar. District 9 isn’t high tech so much as cyber-punk tech, or low tech. The documentary-style direction gives the film a sense of immediacy while also reminding us that when events unfold these days, half the time there is a camera filming them.Aliens have taken up residence on our planet. But instead of being honored and respected as the miracles they should be, they are crowded into a ghetto, called “prawns,” given shacks to live in while their babies are burned to prevent breeding. Of course they are advanced enough to have built the ship that got them to Earth in the first place but that is part of the mystery: who are they anyway and why do we humans hate them so much?The military is interested in them, specifically their weaponry, which is hardcoded with their DNA and can’t be fired with human hands. That the “prawns” have never used their weapons against the humans says a lot about them. As repulsive as they are — eating cat food, digging through garbage, looking weird — they aren’t really that different from us. They are parents who care for their young. They have language. They require food, shelter, and companionship. They don’t have a desire to rule the world.But this review has already said too much. It’s impossible to talk about the plot without giving it away but suffice it to say that District 9 is not a run-of-the-mill sci-fi film. In addition to being thrillingly told, the film is surprisingly moving and is a meditation on apartheid in its own way. Being that Blomkamp is South African, this isn’t a difficult, nor original, leap to make. It isn’t so heavy that it lectures anyone; but it does point out how we pick and choose the types of immigrants who are welcome. We Californians should find some buried truths here as the debate over illegal immigration continues to rage. One gets the feeling that it isn’t that foreigners are coming here to live — it’s that they’re from Mexico and not, say, France or England. This may or may not be true about us; it is most definitely true about the people who torment the aliens in District 9.Don’t miss the film – it will surely be one of the best cinematic experiences of your summer. It is kid-friendly, except for a few curse words and some violence, although no more violence than they likely see on television. Mostly, though, it’s one of those no-fail entertainment experiences that needs a sequel. Like, now.
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and events in Santa Monica and the surrounding areas!