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7 Reasons Why You Should See ‘District 9’

By  · Published on August 13th, 2009

Hey, sports fans. I can’t exactly publish an earnest review of the film until later tonight (and even that is pushing the embargo a bit), but I can’t wait to gush all over this fantastic, brilliant, beautiful film. Seemingly out of nowhere with its strange trailers and odd viral campaign, District 9 has quickly become one of the must-see movies of the year. Part of that is due to the push the film got over the cliff’s edge by screening at Comic-Con. Now, I have no idea whether or not that will get more butts in seats, especially for those wary of science fiction, which is why I felt it incumbent upon me to help out in my own little way.

And, I hate that this seems necessary now in our world (absolutely find it deplorable), but FSR isn’t being paid to write this. I’m not being paid to write this. I love this film, and I think a ton of you, dear readers, will have your minds blown by it. I believe in this film, and here at Reject HQ, when we believe in a film, we celebrate it, get up on the rooftops and scream about it until our lungs are enflamed or until it’s time back to the theater to see it again.

Speaking of, I’m seeing District 9 again tonight and plan on seeing it again over the weekend. I flat out love this movie.

Here’s 7 Reasons Why You Should:

7. Intelligent Science Fiction Disguised as an Action Film …

From the trailers and promotional materials, there’s a lot of fighting. Lasers and whatnot seem to be going off all the time, and it looks like the insectoid-style aliens can also deliver a beating. But beneath all of that is a phenomenally written story about a group of individuals treated as lesser-than in society, walled off from any semblance of normal life, and light years away from their homes. If you’re turned off by heavy-handed morality tales (and who isn’t), you’ll be happy with a definite lack of preachy bullshit found in the movie. It lets the characters and the situations create sympathy or ire all on their own – whether it’s finding common ground with someone who seems different or the underlying pangs of corporate greed that flow throughout. It’s well-written, brilliantly acted, and it’s one of the smartest films of the year.

6. … That Delivers on the Action

And there’s still a ton of shit blowing up. And some gore if you’re nasty. There have been so many trailers baiting and switching audiences lately that it’s really incredible to see a film that delivers above and beyond what it’s promising in the advertising. The beginning of the film has a bit more set up than some like, but even with the first half hour there is a rising tension that builds into physical conflict. Bloody, awesome physical conflict. We’re talking about a world where two groups are in a silent war with each other – one a group of prisoners, the other a struggling warden simply trying to keep the peace. The action elements are as good if not better than most action films – and they are even more effective because you care about the characters and the general feeling of unease that comes with the concept.

5. The Visuals

Holy hell, the look of this film is impeccable. It’s gritty, visceral, a blend of on-the-ground documentary camera work and stylized sweeping shots. What’s more, director Neill Blomkamp and cinematographer Trent Opaloch have done a great deal to restrain themselves by building elaborate alien elements into frames but not always making them the focal point. The world is real, and they don’t need to show off to prove it. Sometimes the alien space craft is large and looming over the landscape and other times it is barely noticeable, just hanging in the background. Aliens roam around free, and by not constantly highlighting them, the world they’ve created is incredibly real. One more element that helped me suspend disbelief. However, some may have a problem there – specifically with the CGI work. It’s done expertly, but there is an inherent challenge in creating CGI characters that don’t exist in real life. You, the audience, knows they are fake and that hinders the believability even if the CGI was done picture perfect. I actually really loved the look of the aliens, though, and I have a feeling that a huge majority of viewers won’t care all that much about slight flaws in CGI work.

4. The Weaponry

I don’t want to say too much about the weapons used in the film because I don’t want to spoil the freshness and surprise of their capabilities. Suffice it to say, they are awe-inspiring, and you definitely do not want to be on the business end of any of them. I’m talking pants-shittingly good.

3. Sympathetic Aliens

Like the CGI challenge I mentioned earlier, it seemed like a huge hurdle to make a group of aliens seem ultimately sympathetic. This achievement was a triumph. By focusing on several of them as characters, the film does something brilliant that not only creates an enduring connection but also drives home an underlying theme of humane kindness without shouting it from the soap box.

2. The Accessibility and Universality

Not into science fiction? It’s a satirical drama. Don’t like thoughtful dramas? It’s a science fiction, action flick. Don’t like amazing movies? I can’t help you there. District 9 is so well put together that even people who hate science fiction will most likely walk out of the theater reveling in the overall story while science fiction fans will walk out reveling in the overall story and how awesome the fucking aliens are. And probably arguing about the physics of proton thrusters or something else nerdy like that. (Which, as a nerdy sidenote: my biggest problem with science fiction is when it doesn’t play physically by its own rules. Amazingly, District 9 adheres stringently to the technology its invented, and I love it for that). There are themes and ideas that almost anyone can relate to, and they all play out against the backdrop of an engaging, epic-feeling alternate world where a world government has to deal with an alien race.

1. The Birth of a Major Talent

Outside of the film itself, audiences and film fans have a unique opportunity to see a first-time director blow the ladies’ underwear off of most other directors in Hollywood. I wouldn’t want to name names, but this newcomer has done something on his first time out that most directors dream of doing their whole careers. And some never pull off. Neill Blomkamp has a long, successful future ahead of him – and, in a way, that excites me even more than District 9, because I can see what lays beyond its borders. The future looks bright and full of incredible films from this talented director. You’d be wise to be there at the beginning.

Click Below to Watch the Trailer:

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Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.