In 1982 a dilapidated spaceship arrived over Johannesburg, South Africa, its crew of insect-like aliens left stranded in the poverty-plagued metropolis. Rounded into a shanty town and forcibly segregated from the indigenous population, over the years the 'Prawns' become the city's true underclass, despite their remarkably advanced technology.
When a massive relocation program begins that will see the aliens forced from the slum and into another camp many miles away officious Multinational United worker Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) gets to work evicting the unwanted visitors. Looking for weaponry and other contraband of interest to his employers, Wikus inadvertently comes into contact with a Prawn-engineered substance that will make him public enemy number one and give him a whole new perspective on the extraterrestrials.
Produced by Peter Jackson and based on Neill Blomkamp's 2005 short film Alive In Joburg, District 9 is a stunning blend of brilliant black comedy, relentless sci-fi action and spot-on social commentary. Leaving bloated Hollywood blockbusters in the dust, this ingenious concoction has all the spectacle of a mainstream movie but with the guts, grit and intelligence of an indie picture.
Hinging on Copley's endearing tragic-comic performance as the clueless bureaucrat and making the most of some exceptional special effects work from Jackson's Weta Digital team, Blomkamp's film is overtly allegorical yet never feels trite or preachy.
Dealing with issues of segregation and social alienation while keeping the unhinged alien action coming thick and fast, the director has delivered a science fiction triumph that's likely to become a classic in the fullness of time.