Aliens and humans battle it out in District 9
Director Neill Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson team up in this fall’s new science fiction film District 9. This movie is based on the short film Alive in Joburg, released in 2005, which deals with the issues of social segregation, xenophobia, and racism (in the form of speciesism) between humans and aliens. The movie’s title and plot were inspired by the events that took place in South Africa during the apartheid regime in 1966 in a place called District Six in Cape Town. During that time, 60,000 people were forcibly removed from District Six, and the area was declared as “whites only” by the government.
The film begins in Johannesburg, South Africa as a documentary type film and has interviews from all departments of Multinational United (MNU), a private military contractor, in which people describe the situation they were in. An alien spaceship had stopped over this city in 1982 and was stranded due to the loss of its command module. When the malnourished aliens, or “prawns” as they are called, are found, they are placed in District 9, separate from the humans.
This place soon becomes a slum and a breeding ground for illegal activities, such as black market weapon sales and prostitution. Wikus can der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), an MNU field operative, is assigned to lead the relocation of the aliens to District 10, farther away from the angry citizens. During the relocation, Wikus raids one of the alien’s houses and he discovers a small canister containing a drop of chemical liquid that he accidentally sprays onto his face, after which he passes out and is taken to the hospital. The doctor discovers that Wikus’ left forearm has mutated into an alien appendage and Wikus is immediately isolated by MNU. The MNU team realizes now that Wikus had mutated DNA in his alien hand he can operate the alien weapons that humans weren’t able to utilize.
In a panic, Wikus escapes from MNU as a fugitive and takes residence in the one place he knew they wouldn’t look for him — District 9. There, he once again meets the alien whom he had taken the canister from. The alien sees Wikus’ physique and immediately realizes what has happened. The alien explains that the canister contains just enough liquid for him to fly to the mother ship and leave the planet. According to the alien, the mother ship has medical equipment that would transform Wikus back to his human form, so Wikus and the alien decide to invade MNU in order to retrieve the canister. But, in order to do so, they will need some alien weaponry, and Wikus goes to the black market to obtain some.
At the black market, Wikus runs into some trouble when the leader of a gang captures Wikus and tries to cut his arm off. Wikus, however, grabs an alien weapon, overpowers his captors, and escapes with some weapons. Upon breaking into MNU offices, Wikus finds the canister while the alien mourns his fallen friend, whom, the alien realizes, has been subjected to medical experiments by MNU.
After returning to District 9 with the canister, the alien decides that he wants to go to his home planet and seek help for his people before curing Wikus. However, the alien told Wikus that this would take three years and promised to come back for Wikus. In a whirl of anger and frustration, Wikus knocks the alien out and, with the help of the alien’s son, powers up the command module only to be shot down soon afterward by MNU. Wikus and the alien are captured by MNU, and the movie takes some interesting plot twists and leaves the audience curious about their fate.
This film really keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The movie, with its documentary style filming, makes the film seem rather realistic. It also portrays an important message about the world’s police and how they respond to situations like segregation and racism. Wikus is a character that is confusing because he doesn’t seem like an antagonist, nor does he seem like a protagonist, so the audience can decide whether to cheer or boo this main character. District 9 is a film that will keep you interested and definitely make you think.