Prawn & Prejudice
I like "District 9" for the simple reason it is sci-fi with depth and not just a movie solely about fancy special effects. Now if you have never watched "District 9" and like your movies to be entertaining first and thought provoking second well do not worry because whilst there is this depth it still works as a piece of simple entertainment. As such, and I can't believe I am going to say this, but "District 9" as a sci-fi movie made in Africa by a first time movie director and on a relatively modest budget compared to some big movies has mass appeal.
You can almost split "District 9" up into sections and the first of which is where we get the depth. This introduction sets up the back story of aliens coming to live in segregation in Johannesburg, South Africa during the 80s when their mother ship comes to rest above the city. We watch as we witness them being forced to live in squalor, turn to crime, be used by small groups of locals whilst others want them out. And if you needed to be told this less than subtle opening is all about Apartheid delivering the symbolism of the mistreatment of these segregated aliens.
This first half which also introduces us to the movies style which is hand held cameras and documentary style interviews leads to eventually the locals demanding the aliens, now known as Prawns in a derogatory manner be evicted from their area, District 9. And this is where the depth whilst still present takes a back seat as the action and more traditional entertainment happens as during the eviction Wikus van der Merwe, who is in charge of the procedure, ends up becoming infected with some Alien juice. Without going into any depth what follows is a mix of a fugitive movie combined with an alien movie as well as a touch of transformers and strangely it works. There is drama, action, humour yet still that little bit of depth when it comes to Apartheid and racial segregation.
It means that "District 9" has greater appeal than you probably expect because behind all the special effects, action and humour that message is there for those who have grown tired of shallow movies. But for those who don't want to rack their brain thinking about things you have this wonderful blend of humour and action, not out right comedy but the amusing sort of quirkiness brought on by characters.
As such credit is due to the team who put "District 9" together especially the special effects guys who could teach a few big boys a lesson about how to make CGI look great without making it cheesy or using too much blurred action to disguise shortfalls. But credit is also due to Sharlto Copley who stars as Wikus Van De Merwe and delivers that wonderful mix of comedy and character which makes him such an entertaining character to follow be it his nervous, awkward attempts at evicting the aliens or when he has to deal with becoming infected. In a way Copley delivers a mix of Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper so we have humour and action which in hindsight is quite ironic as Copley would go on to star with Cooper in "The A-Team" movie.
What this all boils down to is that "District 9" is a surprisingly enjoyable sci-fi movie which delivers action, humour but also depth. Whilst it may not be everyone's cup of tea it certainly has greater appeal to many sci-fi movies as the intelligent drama and meaning never gets forgotten about in favour of just action.