The truths that are shown to us in District 9 are not comfortable to see. I did not leave this movie feeling proud to be human at all. It exposes so many of the worst traits humans have been demonstrating for pretty much our whole history. Racism, violence, fear of the new, strange or unknown, greed, a lust for power are all pointed out, not by beating them into the audiences heads, but bringing them to light by showing the actions of the people of Johannesburg when a strange alien mother ship descends to hover over their city.
The refugee aliens that are extracted from the ship, nicknamed 'prawns,' are herded into a fenced in slum called District 9. They are about to be evicted from this slum, which the people of Johannesburg feel is too close to their city, and pushed out into a new slum far out in the desert so the people can feel safe again. The whole act reeks of the treatment of Jews in Europe in the 1930's and 40's and even the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII and other refugees across the world throughout history. Alien technology is bought, sold and stolen. Both humans and aliens have experiments performed on them in vicious laboratory scenes with absolutely no regard for their rights, comfort or even lives. Basically, the human race now has a chance to commit some of the worst atrocities of history all over again, this time doing them to an alien species instead of our fellow humans.
For those of you that are looking for shoot 'em up action, this film also has no shortage of that and can be enjoyed on that level as well. Shot in the increasingly popular 'found footage' or 'documentary' style (Cloverfield, The Blair Witch Project), it has a very immediate and physical feel to it. I do feel that the movie does devolve a little too far into explosions and body parts and loses the themes that make it a great film in the first place.
I do highly recommend this offering, produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and written and directed by relative newcomer Neill Blomcamp. This is not, however, your 'fuzzy good feeling' romantic comedy or a 'let's get all excited at the car chase' kind of movie. It explores a very dark side of humanity, one that we can hopefully change, if we can shed some more light on it.
If you like: Alien Nation, Cloverfield, The Fly, you might like District 9
I recommend: You see it!