A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some discussion of prostitution and exotic venereal diseases in connection with talk about human/alien interspecies sex.
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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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some smoking and drinking.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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