Out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week, District 9 is a new sci-fi masterpiece from writer/director Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings). The film is a documentary-style account about a race of aliens marooned on earth who have been quarantined in a shantytown, known by humans as District 9, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa.
The film has an “apartheid” metaphor in that the aliens (referred derogatorily by humans as “Prawns” because they look like crustaceans) represent an oppressed minority, all while the humans see the aliens as a nuisance and want to be rid of them once and for all. The film mainly focuses on two main characters; a human who was the head of a relocation program for the aliens, and an alien trying to find a way to return home to his planet.
Special features for the disc include a series of interesting deleted scenes that never made it into the final cut. Director commentary from Neill Blomkamp shows how the concept of District 9 was turned into a reality. In the special feature “Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus”, we see behind the scenes footage of how the F/X team slowly turned actor Sharlto Copley from a human into a “Prawn.” Two other features include a concept design with production planners into creating the world of District 9 and the dazzling special effects that were generated for the film.
District 9 is a brilliant-yet-frightening account at how society would react with a sudden influx of aliens stranded with no way of returning to their planet. I went into the film thinking it was going to have an element of Alien Nation to it, but was amazed to see that the film was a scathing look at not just apartheid in South Africa but also of the Holocaust. The documentary aspect of the film works very well and puts you right into the world of both main characters.
District 9 is an extremely creative film which had me, along with thousands of other moviegoers, focused from start to finish. If you enjoyed the film in theaters, or missed it and are looking for solid sci-fi with a “message,” be sure to pick this one up on DVD or Blu-ray.