Produced by Peter Jackson, and directed by Neill Blomkamp, this movie is a remake of Neill Blomkamp’s own “Alive in Joburg”. When a huge spaceship comes to a still hover of Johannesburg, after many months, the ship is breached and all the aliens on board are put in a detention center called District 9.
Problem is, the detention center is right in the city of Johannesburg, and over time it becomes apparent that they will all have to be moved. The film, told in faux-documentary style, is the story of that decision and its aftermath. I had a bit of trouble getting in to the film at the outset, for two reasons. First, the doc-drama genre is wearing thin for me. I’d much prefer a straight up story telling. Secondly, the lead actor (Sharlto Copley) who plays the man put in charge of the resettlement operation (Wikus van der Merwe), plays Wikus as a sort of bumbling hack. To be sure, this is intentional, but it took me awhile to settle in and accept the role as played.Wikus, not coincidentally has married the boss’s daughter. So that, perhaps, explains that.
Other than the setting (South Africa, with its history of apartheid) and the obvious parallels to radical separation of ‘races’, the movie seems not much interested in that aspect of the “allegory”. But as a straight-up sci-fi, horror film it’s satisfying, What happens to Wikus and the results of his discoveries are an interesting twist and the special effects for a modestly budgeted film are outstanding.