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District 9: A compelling film, must-see sci-fi


District9 scene

By Nickie Wang/MST

Think of slum that is home to two million inhabitants. Do you picture chaos? Let’s try it again, but this time let’s make it complicated with a touch of fiction: the inhabitants are aliens that live in a place where they can have actual contact with humans. Aside from territorial and communication problem, what else could be the trouble in this situation?

District 9, a movie produced by Peter Jackson (director of Lord of the Rings Trilogy), opens the minds of people on the idea of having extraterrestrials living within the boundaries of the Earth. As the film depicts, this planet cannot be a friendly host to aliens.

There’s a place called District 9 in Johannesburg, South Africa, around 1.8 million aliens live as refugees. They are admitted to live in Johannesburg after their mother spaceship got stranded two decades ago.

An organization called Multi-national United (MNU) is tasked to take charge of them. But instead of taking care of their welfare, MNU used the aliens in experiments with profit motives. The organization realizes that it can gain profit if it can have the aliens’ weaponry work. The attempt fails, as the weapons need alien DNA to work. When the MNU realizes using the technology of the aliens is becoming an improbable idea, the organization starts evicting the aliens from District 9 moving them to a concentration camp called District 10.

During the eviction process, an MNU field operative named Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) contracts an alien virus through a cylinder, which one of the adult aliens named Christopher Johnson (a name given to him by the MNU) remarks as a project that took them 20 years to finish.

Transformation

From a simple and diplomatic field operative, Wikus becomes the most hunted man in the world because of the virus he contracted. The virus started changing his DNA thus making him more valuable as he becomes the key MNU has been waiting for to unlock the alien technology.

Without any place to go, he decides to hide in District 9 where he meets the alien named Christopher again. At this point, the relationship between the two is built as they both try to help each other: Wikus retrieves the cylinder from MNU headquarters; and Christopher promises to bring Wikus to his former state.

After retrieving the cylinder, in a more peculiar situation, Wikus and Christopher has created such kind of bond unthinkable for a human and an alien. Wikus, riding an alien-mechanized battle suit, saves Christopher’s life by allowing him to escape and board the mother ship with his son. But before the alien leaves, he promised to come back after three years to repair Wikuss body.

Paving the way to unity

While unity among nations, in real life, is still a very huge issue, District 9 tells that the road to peace is still a very bloody journey. The movie shows too violent action sequences turning the setting into a gory killing field a scene not too far from reality (sans the aliens of course).

From start to finish, the film involves everyone who watches it that if a person went in the movie house with someone, he would probably forget that he actually has a companion. Although it is too violent most especially to youngsters, director Neill Blomkamp sprinkled every scene with human emotions, thus making it more relevant to anyone watching.

District 9 gives action-drama a new definition and it also put science fiction into a new level. The story is well-crafted and well told. The movie also combines drama and action sequences without interrupting one another, not to mention the character development that the story is able to show in a compelling manner. Lead actor Sharlto Copley’s believable performance connects with the audience as he suffers the agonizing experience of physical transformation while he battles for his own survival. With these respects, District 9 creates a certain impact other big science fiction flicks released this year failed to achieve.

The only question that everyone asks: How are humans in the movie able to understand the cryptic language the aliens use? If the answer is a decade of research and studies, then in that span of time, the aliens would have devoured or annihilated their human counterpart.

Amid this flaw that the movie failed to resolve, District 9 is still a compelling movie to watch. It is engaging from start to finish.

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