District 9

  • Review Date: August 10, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sci-fi stunner is smart but gory; way too violent for kids.
  • Review Date: August 10, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

Age(i)

2
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9
10
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although it takes place in a sci-fi context, the movie offers a fascinating perspective on South Africa's struggle with apartheid -- and on any nation's struggle with immigration and fear of "the other." The realization that the filmmakers didn't have to build the slums that their disenfranchised alien immigrants live in should also offer pause for thought.

Positive role models

The movie ultimately culminates with two beings -- one human, one alien -- working together in the service of the common good and struggling to do the right thing at great personal cost and danger. A lot of painful, upsetting stuff happens to them and others along the way, of course.

Violence

Constant, bloody, and brutal violence, some of it involving humans and some involving humanoid, insect-like aliens. Kicking, fighting, severed limbs. Torture, including a man being jabbed with cattle prod so that his hand will pull the trigger of a gun. Characters use high-tech sci-fi firearms, some of which strike with such force that they liquefy their victims. Alien weapons are tested on living beings. Scary medical experimentation imagery, including bloody, explicit body modifications as a man has his DNA rewritten by an alien virus.

Sex

Some discussion of prostitution and exotic venereal diseases in connection with talk about human/alien interspecies sex.

Language

Lots of harsh/strong language, including "f--k" used near constantly, as well as "bastard," "oh my God," "balls," "crap," and more. Some of the swearing may be hard for American audiences to understand given the actors' accents.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some smoking and drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this gritty, buzzworthy sci-fi epic filmed in South Africa (and produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson) is full of extremely realistic, bloody violence, including severed limbs, lots of bodies, piles of high-tech weapons, and even torture. The movie's aliens aren't cute or appealing in any way -- they're scary-looking, insectoid creations with complex biologies and lives. Expect constant strong language (especially "f--k"), as well as some drinking, smoking, and discussion of sex.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Set in an alternate present, DISTRICT 9 takes place in South Africa, where, 20 years ago, an alien ship came to rest in the skies above Johannesburg -- with more than a million workers and near-slaves aboard. Now, after two decades of uneasy co-existence, the local government is moving the alien \"Prawns\" from their ramshackle slums in District 9 to a new camp 200 kilometers away. But as part of the forced relocation, a government bureaucrat discovers that District 9 has secrets of its own.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Produced by Peter Jackson, District 9 is a rarity -- a lower-budget science-fiction film with amazing effects, thrilling action, and, most importantly, emotional and intellectual depth. Turning the plight of marginalized groups into science fiction is nothing new, but District 9's dark vision of the apartheid years is somehow brain-bendingly exciting and painfully real.

Director/co-writer Neill Blomkamp makes a few mistakes -- some of the character arcs have a few rough edges, and the film's middle section is a bit interminable -- but, at the same time, District 9 is a welcome antidote to "science-fiction films" like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (which, of course, have no science in them whatsoever). The movie's willingness to take on complex political and moral questions is an equally welcome change from the bloodless, thoughtless gloss of big-budget action films like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. And, of course, it's just plain exciting -- full of action, comedy, eye-popping effects, and tricky stunts. District 9 is a bloody, brutal action-science-fiction allegory served up rough and raw, but that's what makes it worth getting excited about.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. Is it meant to be realistic (in that, yes, high-tech alien weaponry could be this horrible) or is it just eye candy for action fans? Does it have more or less impact than the violence in a movie like G.I. Joe?

  • How does the movie's news footage/documentary-like style compare to that of other large-scale sci-fi films? Does it seem more realistic? Does that make it scarier?

  • How does the movie's setting echo the real-life conditions of poverty and prejudice during South Africa's apartheid era? Even though it's a sci-fi film, what messages does the movie send about that period?

  • Can you think of other sci-fi movies (or other types of media) that have tackled tough political ideas through metaphor and fantasy?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 14, 2009
DVD release date:December 22, 2009
Cast:David James, Jason Cope, Sharlto Copley
Director:Neill Blomkamp
Studio:Sony Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:bloody violence and pervasive language

This review of District 9 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byHopefullyThisHelps April 9, 2010
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

WARNING: THE REVIEW DOES NOT EXPRESS VERY WELL HOW GROSS AND SICK THIS MOVIE CAN BE

I'm a pretty mature 15-year-old and I thought it'd be ok for me to watch this movie before. I finally convinced my parents to let me see this "R" movie. Before I watched the movie, I did check this review and thought the movie would be ok. I was thinking that the language was nothing I didn't hear all the time in school and that violence was nothing. They also said there was just little sexual discussion... Unfortunately, however, this is all wrong. First of all, I do hear cuss words all day long at school, but it is just dispicable how many times they use the f word in the movie... The editor must have put the f word in every possible space he could in the script because it is used to describe everything... And after a while, THE EXTREMELY CONSTANT F WORDS BECOME VERY ANNOYING. Secondly, the violence wasnt just regular explosions and shooting... People literally exploded and parts of their skin would fly on the camera or on the ground. Also, THE PARTS SHOWING DEAD ALIENS BEING DISECTED WAS NOT ONLY GRAPHIC BUT ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING! It even shows a scientist stretching out the bleeding, oozing skin while it rips apart. And finally, the last point I will touch upon is the sexual references... IT IS NOT JUST DISCUSSION OF SEXUAL CONTENT... BUT ALSO NASTY DISCUSSION OF HUMANS' SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH ALIENS. And this appears several times in the story with lines such as "How'd you do it?" and "Did you have to wear a condom?". Ew, I mean that is EXTREMELY SICK AND TWISTED. So basically, this movie is not appropriate at all for teenagers, but for the older ones and adults... use caution. I personally would not recommend it for anyone due to the absolutely sick and graphic references. As a totally different note, it is a good, thought-provoking movie. I just do not think it is worth it....
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byMikaylaaMadisonn October 8, 2009
AGE
10
QUALITY
 
Adult Written byusagary August 22, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 
This movie has more than just violence. Violence is targeted towards both humans and aliens. The humans are zapped with laser weapons which the aliens have brought to earth; it shows humans graphically blowing up with blood and guts flying everywhere. The aliens look kind of like animals (alas, they crave cat food) and act submissive. They're initially shown to be half starved when their space ship is opened up and appear to want to leave earth. Humans mercilessly beat them and kill them -- again graphically shown which may lead some younger viewers to think its ok to treat animals that way. There is a brief reference to prostitution (with aliens); also a news report in which a government agent is rumored to have contracted a disease from having sex with the aliens (again, aliens shown as animals these references have bestiality undertones). African gangsters trading weapons are not necessarily shown in a positive light but are shown in an aura of power and as they are the ones who pull the strings and have the power. The alien/Sci-fi nature of this movie may lure teens/parents with teens to see this but they should know in advance what they're getting in to.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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