District 9, filmed in a quasi-documentary style, the $30-million special-effects-heavy film from newcomer Neill Blomkamp, produced by genre-master Peter Jackson, follows the social and geo-political repercussions of aliens crash-landing in Johannesburg where they are sequestered in an apartheid-style homeland, treated like refugees and forced to work for humans. They soon find a kindred spirit in a government agent that is exposed to their biotechnology.
After 48 seconds of documentary-style interviews with people expressing concerns about recent immigrants, District 9 zooms into high gear with a spaceship crash landing impact. An alien interrogation ensues, but by then an intriguing framework sells the idea that this won’t be your ordinary special-effects-crazed thriller. The concept for this movie is unique. In a world where aliens existed the first thing a government would need to do to manage their existence, with regulations and restrictions, curfews, news of where you can and can’t go.
“District 9” producer Peter Jackson took pains to explain to the LA Times that “It’s a unique take on the science-fiction genre,” he said. “It has dramatized sequences and uses home movie clips. But it’s not like ‘Cloverfield.’ It doesn’t remind you of anyone else’s movie.”
The movie’s off-line promotions employ signage that deliberately echoes “Whites only” placards once seen in the South as well as cultural touchstones from Blomkamp’s upbringing in apartheid-era South Africa. “Warning: Restricted area for humans only,” reads an ad painted on a New York City wall.