Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

District 9 (2009)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

District 9 (2009)

In co-writer/director Neill Blomkamp's and TriStar Pictures' gritty science-fiction action-thriller - it was part-apartheid allegory, mock documentary and tense action film, with themes of xenophobic prejudice, corporate greed and apartheid segregation. It was based upon Blomkamp's own short film Alive in Joburg (2006). The film was presented as a mock-documentary and docu-drama (mostly in its first half), with footage from interviews with authorities, corporate spokespeople, TV news stations (South African Broadcasting Corporation), and surveillance camera videos. The film's MacGuffin was a fuel canister that kept the plot moving forward. During the top-of-the-line action sequences with bloody carnage, there were many splattered bodies and exploding heads, referencing producer Peter Jackson's earlier bloody films Bad Taste (1987) and Braindead (aka Dead Alive) (1992).

On a budget of $30 million, it was moderately successful with revenues of $115.6 million (domestic) and $210.9 million (worldwide). It was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

The plot was about the unexpected arrival in 1982 of an extra-terrestrial starship above Johannesburg, South Africa. Inside were almost 2 million starving, sick and malnourished alien creatures (dubbed "Prawns" because of their insect-like appearance), who were welcomed at first and relocated by the government in a separate temporary internment camp known as District 9. Twenty-eight years later in the present day, the exploited aliens (due to racist public opinion) were still confined in the area that had become crime-ridden, filthy, and slum-like, and the local Nigerian people, who either treated the aliens cruelly or exploited them, clamored for their removal elsewhere.

The weapons manufacturer known as the Multi-National United (MNU) Corporation was contracted to move the hordes of aliens. The head of the MNU hired one of its employees, Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) to organize the relocation efforts and the delivery of eviction notices, although the Prawns resisted removal. Wikus also went door-to-door to confiscate the aliens' powerful weapons that could only be fired by contact with prawn DNA. It was suspected that MNU's ulterior motives involved acquiring the aliens' unique bio-engineered weapons. When Wikus was exposed to a powerful, synthesized alien fuel chemical, he began to slowly mutate into a "Prawn" himself and his DNA was transformed. When regarded as both an outcast-fugitive and as a desirable lab subject by the government in both the human and prawn worlds, Wikus was forced to seek refuge and hide out in District 9.

Wikus befriended intelligent alien Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope), who was attempting to escape Earth with his young son (CJ) by re-activating the aliens' concealed and inoperable dropship and returning to the mothership. The two were able to obtain confiscated fuel in an MNU lab, but with limited fuel, Wikus would have to be left behind and hope that he could be healed by Christopher in the future. The film ended ambiguously after Christopher was able to successfully levitate the dropship into a tractor beam that took him into the mothership, as Wikus ran interference for him - but would the alien return in three years to collect all the other aliens, including Wikus (to help heal him), or to declare war on Earth?

  • in the opening scene of the intriguing and harrowing film set in March of 1982, bumbling, nebbish, incompetent, and naive bureaucratic field operative Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), an employee in the Alien Affairs Department of the MNU (Multi-National United) Corporation (a large weapons manufacturer), was introduced at his desk
  • a large space ship arrived and hovered above Johannesburg, South Africa for three months; once it was decided to cut into the inoperable spacecraft, it was found to contain hundreds of thousands of malnourished, sickly and unhealthy alien creatures (bi-pedal and taller than humans, with facial tendrils), who communicated with clicking noises
  • the extra-terrestrials were transported and segregated within the city in an area known as District 9 - a heavily-guarded, barb-wire fenced and militarized internment camp; the temporary, overcrowded resettlement location soon became a crime-infested slum area
  • one news-report described how a small dropship separated from the mothership and was unable to be located; frequent raids into District 9 confiscated alien weapons, and there were many alien-instigated riots and acts of violence that erupted, prompting a nationwide curfew; the aliens were given the derogatory term "Prawns" due to their appearance: "It implies something that is a bottom feeder, that scavenges the leftovers...That's what they look like, right? They look like prawns"
  • 28 years after the aliens first arrived, plans were underway by the private MNU corporation to move the 1.8 million oppressed aliens to a new camp (District 10) 240 kilometers away; the alien relocation facility would be called "Sanctuary Park"; the operation to peaceably evict the prawns (by serving them with eviction notices) was headed up by field officer Wikus; opportunistic Afrikaaner Wikus was the son-in-law of MNU Managing Director Piet Smit (Louis Minnaar), although Smit denied any preferential nepotism involved in his decision to select Wikus
  • enforcement was provided during the eviction and relocation by private military contractors and security forces, led by sadistic mercenary soldier Colonel Koobus Venter (David James)

District 9 Evictions Commenced

Prawn-Like Aliens Violently Resisted Relocation Efforts
  • during the difficult relocation efforts, interviews unveiled various scams by the Nigerians upon the Prawns: "The Nigerians had various scams going. One of them was the cat food scam" - cans of cat-food, enjoyed by the aliens, were being sold at exorbitant prices; there was also "interspecies prostitution" and dealing with "alien weaponry"; in one shack, it was found that alien prawn eggs were being fed and illegally harvested - the shack's egg pods was gleefully torched by the racist-minded Wikus with a flame-thrower as he laughed about how they burst "like popcorn"
  • it was revealed that arms manufacturer MNU had ulterior motives - they wanted to benefit from the aliens' powerful, non-human weaponry; it wanted to commandeer their other-worldly, bioengineered weaponry-technology for a profit; however, they were stymied by the fact that the weaponry could only be activated with the presence of alien DNA in the genetic structure of the weapon's user
  • intelligent alien Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope) was shown with his young son CJ and friend Paul in a garbage dump scavenging small amounts of a mysterious fuel liquid from discarded alien technology; for two decades, they had been collecting the waste fuel and storing it in a canister in a hidden room in their nearby shack [Note: the goal was to power and reactivate a command module (drop-ship shuttle), to return to the mothership hovering dormant over the city]
  • during Wikus' search of the shack, he found a hidden back room with lab equipment, located the suspicious silver canister (a fuel cell), and accidentally sprayed himself in the face with a dark black liquid; Wikus had unknowingly infected himself with a virus [Note: This was the film's turning point - Wikus began a harrowing experience of slowly mutating into one of the aliens]; in another shack area, a large cache of dangerous alien weapons was also discovered; Colonel Koobus' team was called for backup when both Wikus and another MNU agent were attacked and injured, and the Colonel took pleasure in executing Christopher's uncooperative friend Paul; during a 2nd visit to Christopher's shack, Wikus discovered illegal computer equipment
  • after exposure to the alien fuel, during an examination of his injuries by a MNU medic team, Wikus' left hand looked like it had been burned; there were other troubling signs: he began puking black vomit, a black fluid oozed from his nose, and he was losing his fingernails on his right hand; during a party in his home to celebrate his promotion, he threw up on the cake and collapsed onto the floor before being taken to the hospital; there under the bandage on his left hand, it was discovered that his appendage had mutated into a Prawn claw
  • meanwhile, another faction was competing with MNU to amass alien weaponry; Obesandjo (Eugene Khumbanyiwa), the Nigerian warlord and underground black market gang leader in District 9, had been extracting non-human weaponry from the Prawns for years; however, both groups had not been able to use their stockpiles; the South Africans also believed in sorcery and witchcraft - and animalistic cannibalism: "The Nigerians were consuming alien body parts. They believed that by doing so, they were ingesting their power to use alien weaponry"
  • after Wikus' mutation was revealed, the "infected agent" was wrapped up in a containment bag before he was whisked away by the MNU for further observation; Christopher's alien silver canister was discovered in Wikus' jacket; 16 hours after exposure, he was wheeled through an MNU operating room where Wikus noticed Prawns being surgically operated upon; the MNU had been performing illegal, secret experiments on the aliens for years
  • one pain threshold test determined that Wikus' claw was completely fused with his nervous system; during testing of Wikus' new appendage, MNU officials learned that he could now operate powerful, non-human weaponry; various weapons were tested with Wikus' mutated hand, and each one obliterated its target (including a live Prawn); one official noted: "We are running out of time. This is the key stage in the metamorphosis. His DNA is in perfect balance between alien and human. And a problem is, as the infection spreads, the transition becomes permanent and less active. He's going to turn into one of them. A prawn!"
  • in a race against time, the MNU authorities became determined to perform life-ending experimental surgery (or dissection) upon Wikus and "harvest" everything from his partially-mutated body, since he was the only human who could operate the alien weapons: "This body represents hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars worth of biotechnology. There are people out there, governments, corporations, who would kill for this chance...We need everything. Tissue, bone marrow, blood. The procedure is gonna basically strip him down to nothing"
  • during an attempted vivisection surgery that would kill him, Wikus resisted with incredible super-strength and escaped from the operating room; he became a beleaguered fugitive from the nefarious MNU, and was hunted down by Colonel Koobus; a commentator reported: "He became the most valuable business artifact on Earth. He was the only human who had ever successfully been combined with alien genetics and remained alive. But his real value was that he could operate alien weaponry"
  • while Wikus was disguising himself under a blanket and attempting to order fast food at a Gunter's Restaurant, he watched a falsified SABC-TV news report, part of a smear campaign released by the MN, claiming that the "highly contagious" patient-escapee Wikus was guilty of prolonged sexual activity with aliens in District 9 and had contracted a sexual disease
  • 31 hours after exposure, Wilkus was forced to seek refuge in District 9, and slept overnight in an abandoned shack; by the next morning at 40 hours after exposure, he was starving and resorted to eating the Prawn's favorite brand of 'cat food' Puddi; he found himself losing his hair, nails, and now his teeth; he grabbed an axe and thought he might cure himself by amputating his alien arm, but then changed his mind after cutting off just his alien thumb
  • in the shack of Christopher Johnson and his young son, Wikus asked for help in hiding him from the MNU; when he passed out, to hide him, Wikus he was dropped into the lower level of the shack, where he saw that it was where the two prawns were concealing the mother spaceship's command module drop-ship; Christopher demanded to know where Wikus had taken the silver fuel canister that he had earlier confiscated; he responded that it was in the MNU lab; Chrisopher's young son CJ revealed their plan to reactivate the drop-ship: "Fuel goes in here....Then we fly away"; Wikus became excited when Christopher suggested that he could reverse Wikus' genetic transformation and cure him, with the medical machines on the mothership: ("You can make me human again?"); however, they needed to retrieve the fuel canister: "I could fix you and I could fly away. But I don't have fluid"
  • 56 hours after exposure, in a "suicide mission," Wikus and Christopher went to retrieve the silver fuel canister from MNU ("four stories underground"); first, they needed to acquire alien weaponry from the Nigerians; Wikus visited with warlord Obesandjo and his gang of armed men within District 9, who became intrigued by Wikus' transformed arm, and even took a bit from his infected flesh to gain his altered and valuable powers ("I want the arm, cut it off"); Wikus grabbed one of their stolen alien weapons, fought off and subdued the gang, and then escaped with an assortment of weapons
  • in the film's exciting conclusion, Wikus and Christopher assaulted and evaded MNU forces in downtown Johannesburg led by Colonel Koobus, and were able to enter the MNU lab area four stories down to retrieve the fuel canister; during their entry, Christopher became disturbed by the sight of barbaric experiments on the prawns (including the sight of his dissected friend Paul); they were able to escape in a MNU vehicle back to Christopher's shack in District 9

Nigerian Warlord Obesandjo (Eugene Khumbanyiwa)

Wikus With an Alien Weapon to Subdue the Nigerian Gang Members

Wikus and Christopher Assaulting MNU with Alien Weaponry

Retrieval of the Fuel Canister

Christopher Disturbed by the Sight of His Dissected Friend Paul

Escaping in an MNU Vehicle
  • a twist was revealed -- Christopher told Wikus it would take longer than he originally thought - three years! - he must immediately journey to his home planet: ("I will fix you, but first I must save my people...I will not let my people be medical experiments...I must go home and get help. I must use all the fuel to travel quickly"); impatient with Christopher, Wikus knocked him out, and then attempted to power up and commandeer the drop-ship himself - hidden and located under the shack; after Christopher was taken prisoner in the shack, the dropship emerged from under the ground (CJ was also hiding in the dropship)
  • shortly later, the alien shuttle dropship was shot down by an MNU missile and crash-landed inside District 9, and Wikus was also taken captive by MNU mercenary Koobus; now 72 hours after exposure, both Wikus and Christopher were in MNU custody and being driven out of District 9; their MNU vehicle was ambushed by Obesandjo's gang, and Wikus was kidnapped and dragged away
  • during a raging firefight outside between the gang members and backup MNU mercenaries, the gang leader's intent was to consume Wikus: ("All I want is to eat that arm and become like you....Once I have that power, no one will stop me")

The Activated Mothership

The Activated Armored Battle-Suit
  • as Wikus was being prepared to be sliced up, CJ activated the mothership and a massive, mechanical alien walker battle suit stored in the gang's headquarters; the activated alien device quickly exterminated the Nigerian gang members and its leader; as a part-prawn himself, Wikus decided to enter the battle-suit and fight off the opposing forces and save Christopher from being beaten to death by the MNU; he helped to safely lead Christopher to the downed command module, where Wikus chose to remain behind to sacrificially allow Christopher (and his son) to get away in their dropship and return to the reactivated mother ship; he told Christopher: "Listen, you go ahead. You can make it...Take your boy and go home. You have to make it"
  • as a light beam from the mothership lifted up the dropship with Christopher and CJ onboard, Wikus held off the MNU forces with the battle-suit's superior gunpower; during a stand-off against Koobus and a few other troopers, Wikus was rammed from behind by a vehicle, and seriously wounded after being shot in the back by Koobus and ejected from the battle-suit
Colonel Koobus Threatening to Kill Wikus
  • 74 hours after exposure, Koobus approached Wikus on the ground, and threatened: "I can't wait for those med boys to cut you up" - but his real objective was to eliminate Wikus for good: ("I'm gonna just f--king kill you myself"); he was thwarted by alien prawns in District 9 who came to Wikus' rescue and surrounded him; they viciously tore off the head of Colonel Koobus and ripped him apart
  • as the mother ship blasted off and departed, and Wikus watched expectantly, questions were pondered - as raised by a news correspondent: ("There's no way of knowing whether or not Christopher Johnson will return. We don't know if he was simply escaping, whether he will effect a rescue plan, uh, and as the so-called free press says, whether or not he'll come back and declare war on us"):
    • Would Christopher Johnson return?
    • Was he simply escaping, or would he effect a rescue plan for the alien refugees in their new camp, and/or wage war against humanity?
  • in the film's epilogue, more interviews with various people revealed many speculative theories about Wikus' disappearance - had he been recaptured by MNU or by another government, or by "some shady government agency and is actually being held in captivity"?

Wikus' Worried Wife Tania (Vanessa Haywood)

Alien Prawn in a Junkyard - Was Wikus Still Alive?
  • Wikus' co-worker Fundiswa Mhlanga (Mandla Gaduka) had exposed MNU's "illegal genetic research programme," and District 9 was demolished after the alien resettlement operation of 2.5 million aliens to District 10 was completed; Wikus' worried wife Tania (Vanessa Haywood) discovered a small metal rose-flower on her front door step (similar to ones that Wikus used to make); an anonymous gift, she wondered if her husband was still alive:
    • "My friends say I should just throw it away because it's just a piece of rubbish. And it couldn't possibly come from him. I know it's true"
  • on a trash heap, a fully-developed alien prawn with a bandaged left hand was seen standing and holding up a flower made out of metal - was Wikus still alive?!

MNU Alien Affairs Department Employee Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley)

Large Spaceship Hovered Above Johannesburg, South Africa

A View of the "Dropship" That Separated From the Alien's Mothership

Alien Weapons Caches Seized Within District 9

MNU - In Charge of Relocating Aliens to a New Camp - District 10

MNU's Lead Mercenary - Sadistic and Violent Colonel Koobus Venter (David James)

One of the Alien "Prawn" Creatures: Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope) Who Was Collecting Alien Fuel

Wikus Accidentally Exposed to an Alien Fuel Chemical That He Sprayed Into His Face

Wikus' Transformed Hand - Mutated into a Prawn Claw

Alien Weapon Testing With Wikus' Clawed Hand

MNU's Decision to Perform "Harvesting" Surgery on Wikus and Kill Him - He Reacted With Super-strength and Escaped

Wikus - A Fugitive From the Nefarious MNU

Falsified TV News Report About Wikus With an Alien Sexual Disease

CJ - Christopher's Young Son

Wikus Commandeering the Dropship by Himself

The Alien Dropship Emerging From Under the Ground and Soon After Crash-Landing

CJ Activating the Mothership From the Downed Dropship

Wikus' Massive Armored Battle Suit

Christopher Saved by Wikus From Being Killed by the Colonel

The Dropship Levitating Into the Mothership

Prawns to Wikus' Rescue - to Kill and Dismember Colonel Koobus


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