District 9, the new movie directed by Neill Blomkamp, is a remarkable film. A friend and I saw it this afternoon; I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew the very basic premise; these aliens (nicknamed “Prawns”) get stuck in Johannesburg and are trying to get home.
I enjoyed it; the first hour or so features fingernail violence and vomiting (two things that made me watch my palms for a few minutes), but the story is good and the main characters are sympathetic.
What got me the most was the parallels between the two main characters, the human Wikus van de Merwe and prawn Christopher Johnson. While I won’t go into the specifics of the story, both characters share a similar motive: they both want only to return home and back to the lives they knew.
Wikus is an intriguing character, in the fact that you begin by being annoyed with him, but by the end, you root for him. He’s not entirely good; he’s selfish, cowardly, self-serving government flunkie. But that’s okay. By the end of the movie, I was quite fond of him.
The film isn’t without its flaws. There are plot holes, obvious social commentary (not that it isn’t well done, it’s just readily apparent), and some faulty logic (how Wikus gets with the prawn is a bit contrived). If the viewer suspends logic for a while, goes along with the ride, and just looks to be entertained, District 9 is the movie for you.
The ending is left open for a sequel, but I don’t think one is necessary. Sometimes open endings are the best ones; they let you draw your own conclusions.
Of course, high tolerance of fingernail violence is key.