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IN SHORT: Very close to classic. Great Science Fiction. [Rated R for bloody violence and pervasive language. 112 minutes]
It was thirty years ago today .... give or take, that an alien mothership came to hover over Johannesburg, South Africa. The choice makes a twisted kind of sense, given the racial history of that country and as the years pass, curious humans armor up and bust in to the unidentified object of interest. Inside, gosh gee whiz, are aliens! Not cute ones like E.T. or vicious ones like the predators, but totally average (so to speak) alien Joes. They settle in a camp called District 9 [which apparently is a nod to the real life South African District 6, an apartheid era "blacks only" camp] while their mothership hovers overhead.
The aliens fall into an uneasy life, eating human garbage -- rubber tires are a delicacy -- and bartering weaponry whose biological triggers prevent human use. Not caring about human concepts of right and wrong, the weapons fall into the hands of both the South African government and the Nigerian criminal underworld. The Nigerian underworld trades pigs and cat food to the aliens. They like the former and consider the latter a delicacy. Go figure.
More important, and unique to this story, all those weapons on the alien ships aren't used by said visitors. They are a passive race of creatures and those biological triggers make humankind nuts.
Comes the time when the the alien community that has formed peacefully amidst the garbage heaps of Johannesburg becomes too large to be comfortably close to a major city, political suits decide to relocate it. They pass off the eviction duties to the Multi-National United (MNU) corporation whose CEO, Koobus Vanter (David James), with a fine nepotistic hand, hands the job to his son-in-law, Wilkus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley). Wilkus, who had been handling PR relations for the camp, takes to the job eagerly but, to be kind, he's a bit of a dolt.
During the course of evictions, Wilkus discovers an alien laboratory run by the nicknamed Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope). In said lab he picks up a silver tube which spews a black liquid into his face and . . . well, you know that's not good. Wilkus wakes in a hospital, with all sorts of interesting changes happening in various body parts. One change allows him to operate the previously useless weapons tech. We'll leave other changes a secret because you should be surprised. Needless to say, there's a long list of people interested in what has happened:
Wife Tanyia (Vanessa Haywood) has an obvious interest for concerned wife-ly reasons. The aforementioned father-in-law's corporation is so very interested in the DNA alteration that they're willing to dissect the guy. (That makes no sense to us, logically. Dramatically, it's a useful gimmick.) The Nigerian black market, run by a smuggler and weapons dealer called Obesandjo (Eugene Khumbanyiwa), are more than interested in any man's hand, that can operate alien tech. Whether or not its attached to a living, breathing body . . . eh, no big deal <g>.
When he realizes what is about to happen, Wilkus grows a pair and becomes both fugitive and hunted man. He will be rejoined by the aliens Christopher and son, who need to retrieve that silver tube that made Wilkus' life hell. The aliens have their own reasons for needing said tube and from here on out District 9 shifts to a hunt and capture mode.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to District 9, he would have paid . . .
The CG alien creation is so good I spent an hour trying to find actors names (thinking men in suits had been CG altered. Nope. Most are created in the computer.) The Wilkus story is terrific but there's a lack of development in some of the supporting characters that could have taken this film from a really good time to a classic movie. We rarely make these kind of comments, but District 9 is so close to a groundbreaking story that we just want to see everything.
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