"District 9" was a movie that's star shined very bright for a short period. I vividly remember when this movie came out in the summer of 2009. It was a big deal. It was a surprise hit at the box office and was almost universally acclaimed. 2009 was an incredible year for science fiction. You had JJ Abrams' Star Trek movie and a low-budget indie flick called "Avatar" directed by James Cameron. While "District 9" didn't go nuts at the box office the way those movies did, "District 9" was one of the most well-received films of that year. It earned the Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. I was nervous to go back and rewatch it. I had some great memories of seeing in the theater. I saw this twice when it came out in 2009. But I was concerned about how it would hold up. I'm happy that "District 9" has held up incredibly well.
These are the kind of movies that we don't see in the mainstream anymore. It is an entirely original idea with some of the most unique science fiction concepts I've ever seen. This was the directorial debut view of Neill Blomkamp. It's such a shame that Blomkamp has not been able to recapture the magic that made "District 9" one of the best films of 2009. It's as if he used every trick up his sleeve to make this one glorious science-fiction epic. It's a movie that masterfully blends genres. It features some legitimate tension and skin-crawling body horror, but at its core, it's a fascinating character study about a man on the run.
The fake documentary style they use in this movie's first half gives the film a very authentic feel. They rev up the tension, and a large part is because the movie is paced well. When I watch older movies, I'm continually proven right about my opinion that modern films are paced so poorly. This movie flies by. You are on the edge of your seat the entire time. You feel like you are on this journey with the main character, and a huge reason for that is because of Sharlto Copley's fantastic performance.
Back in 2009, some people felt like Sharlto Copley deserved awards consideration for his performance in "District 9." He never got nominated for anything, but after watching this movie, I agree with those people. He reacts to the situation in a very human way. You feel the manic energy that he displays throughout this film. But he's also a fully realized character. They do a great job of building up his character. You empathize completely with his situation but become frustrated with some of his erratic decision-making.
There are a few things that could be improved with this movie. The biggest issue is that the effects often don't hold up. It looks so much better than it should, but there are moments during the action sequences when the effects become somewhat distracting. ￼This was a $30 million movie in 2009. That's a micro-budget by today's standards. The fact that it looks as good as it does complements the film. Besides that, some of the antagonists are underwritten. But that's a minor complaint. Seeing one-dimensional assholes get their due at the end it's so satisfying. Oh man, the third act of this movie is full of so many awesome moments. Ultimately, the film is a tragedy. It's an emotional ￼and heartbreaking experience.
I felt a certain level of sadness while watching this movie. Watching "District 9" is like watching the rookie prospect who hit 50 home runs and then had his career derailed by injuries. You wonder what could've been. When this film came out, so many people believed it would be the beginning of a long successful career for Neill Blomkamp. Sharlto Copley became a star briefly, but I think many people were waiting for the inevitable sequel, and we never got it. It's been 14 years, and I'm genuinely surprised there hasn't been more talk about a potential sequel. Neil Blomkamp's inability to branch out as a director has killed our chances of ever seeing a "District 10." ￼ Given Blomkamp's recent track record, I feel like, even if we did get a "District 10," it would fail to recapture the first film's magic. In a way, that adds to the mystique of this movie. "District 9" was not based on any source material, nor did it ever have a sequel. It didn't lead to any spinoffs, but it left its mark. It's one of the best science fiction films of my lifetime. ￼