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District 9, Part 2
Many critics only see the obscene abuses humanity heaps upon the prawn. They can only see the aliens as substitute for black townsfolk; they aren't: you can't deal with them as human and expect to keep your limbs.

It wouldn't work without Sharlto Copley (Wickus) and Jason Cope (Christopher). For all the imaginative range of the film, it works because it is the story of one man. Wickus is fighting to restore his humanity against terrible odds. The gritty realism of the film means terrible odds are just that: he fails. I could not have imagined how a man in alien mecha-armour could be as lonely, frail and pathetic as an aged beggar on the streets.

The film has flaws. The plot has holes. For example the "biological weapon", the mutagenic liquid, serves too many roles. It's hard enough swallowing the idea that the mutagen could also serve as fuel.

That said, this is the best kind of science fiction; it's not a slavish political allegory. This is a serious imagining of a situation we've never dealt with. Cheekily, it includes and debunks a certain style of academic interpretation within the movie itself through the talking heads, while the camera tells a different story.

It's difficult to understand Christopher. He's a prawn from a literal master race, but has little relationship with the masses of drones around him. If he had any power he would presumably instruct them that eating the tires of a human vehicle and then tearing the arm off a human trying to stop you is no way to make friends and a great way to ensure you stay in a hellish ghetto. Yet he's so moved by the medical experimentation lab he stops still in the middle of a gunfight.

The film has extraordinary realism. It looks as effortless as directing a mobile phone camera at something happening right in front of you. Alien devices have a compelling sense of being real objects, part of the same world as the dust and the huts.

The climax of the film had clutching my chair. Wikus takes command of a powerful alien mecha, but it's as forlorn and desperate as a liquor-store holdup gone wrong. It's here that Wikus shows us the best side of humanity in sacrificing himself for Christopher and his son, and Christopher finally realises even drones like these dangerous apes have something in them that is human.
...sorry, but my impression is that you're looking at the aliens the same way that the villains did.

The entire point of the movie is that the Prawns are not perfect, they're not Na'Vi, but they're as flawed as humans, and as a result of years of mistreatment, poverty and ghettoisation they are acting exactly as humans do in the same situation- understandably paranoid, fearful and angry.
comment #2442 SabreJustice 5th May 10
My interpretation was that the liquid wasn't actually fuel, but some sort of catalyst necessary to engage the warp drives (or whatever intersteller transit they use). The humans and prawn have enough trouble understanding each other that "fuel" might be the closest word that they can come up with as a translation.

This makes more sense because all of the prawn technology is based on DNA; it would make sense that their most potent technology would require some sort of super-DNA gene therapy or something.

The ship is clearly not without fuel, or it would've crashed into the earth.
comment #2451 Dracomicron 6th May 10
I like the review, apart from the way you view the prawns. You view them as aliens who humans cannot begin to understand and are in no way an allusion to the apartheid treatment of Africans (Umm....)

We are supposed to view the prawns as people. Living, sentient things that have minds and emotions like a human, and a similar level of intelligence, if slightly higher.

Aside from the outward appearance and cultural differences they are essentially human as you or I. This is emphasized by Wikus's transformation. The humans are as inhumane as the prawns, just as the prawns are as human as the humans. That was worded awfully, I know, but I think it gets the point across. Maybe it doesn't. Oh dear.

And I agree about the plot holes. The fuel turning humans into aliens seemed... totally unbelievable to say the least. Then again it was a brilliant way of getting the films messages across so I can easily ignore that.

Overall this was the best film of 2009, a surprising good piece of film making which really managed to reach a level very few can. Dealing with the idea of aliens landing in South Africa and being segregated along with gratuitous lashings of the old ultra-violent and doing it in an honest and serious way shows serious skill.

I did however take a different interpretation of the films ending. Wikus makes a heroic sacrifice to save the prawns, despite being for the most part an anti-hero at best, and Christophers unwavering faith in humanity, which he has paid a terrible price for throughout the course of the film, has finally been rewarded. In fact, it almost seems that the film was showing his faith as boldly foolish and more than such a barbaric species deserves, but admirable still. Wikus is the one who comes to the realization that there is humanity in the prawns which is worth protecting, whereas perhaps the same cannot be said for human kind itself.
comment #2482 iwintheinternets? 11th May 10
@iwintheinternets?: It seems that the Prawns have slightly lower intelligence in the traditional human perspective of intelligence, with the exception of Christopher and his son.

I also loved the film, and I personally believe it deserved the academy award for visual effects more than Avatar did. However, my favorite film of 2009 was still Moon.
comment #10751 Scardoll 13th Oct 11
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