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Riveting District 9 the best sci-fi flick since Alien
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Riveting District 9 the best sci-fi flick since Alien

by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN A&E Writer

District 9
Now Playing


Back in the '80s, when my ex and I first saw Alien, I knew I was seeing something so new that it would break the mold for sci-fi films for years to come. And honestly, except for the occasional sleeper film - like the Jim Caviezal vehicle Sunshine from a few years ago - Hollywood really hasn't done anything near that impressive since. That is, until now.

Stuffed between two videogamer types last weekend, I cheered as I realized I was witnessing another revolutionary sci-fi moment. True, District 9 is not nearly as viscerally frightening as Alien - nothing will ever scare me that much again - but this film made me sit up and say, "Finally, a good sci-fi flick out of Hollywood - and about time, too."

Starting out as a mockumentary, District 9 slowly tells the twisted and eventually awful story of an "everyman" government worker. The movie (part of spring's Seattle International Film Festival) weaves a nail-biting spell that holds viewers in its grip until the credits roll.

Poor Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharito Copley) works for a government social agency in charge of housing some stranded aliens who had the misfortune to get stuck in Johannesburg, South Africa after their ship ran out of fuel. The aliens are treated as badly as the blacks were treated before the apartheid government was repealed - interestingly enough, they are mistreated by some of the same people who themselves were treated with disrespect by the Afrikaners under apartheid.

Some of the aliens are held in what amounts to a concentration camp, while others are hustled into a permanent slum until a clandestine government agency (like the CIA, but much worse) gets the "brilliant" idea to make them leave, because the public is outraged by their presence and the rising crime rate in the slums. So, in goes poor Wikus to help with the removal effort.

Only nothing goes as planned, and our innocent grunt opens a mysterious can while doing an inspection of a suspect's house. This leads to a metamorphosis of his body, and to his capture by said clandestine agency, who really wants a new weapon to kill the aliens (and anyone else they don't like). All of this is set against a backstory of a small band of aliens who are trying to secretly fix their ship and get the hell out of Dodge before they're slaughtered like pigs.

A riveting and at times heartwrenching and hard to watch film, District 9 is not for the squeamish, so be warned, but it is a film that will make you question every government in history. Perhaps more importantly, it will force you to examine the human trait which makes once-dominated groups the first to try to dominate any group they deem lesser or weaker. Startling in its honesty and brutal beauty, this is a must-see and should get an Oscar in a fair world.

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