District 9 Reviews

Tom Charity
CNN.com
Top Critic
August 25, 2014

It's a brashly confident debut, full of sharp, inventive detail (the prawns are crazy for cat food) and rooted in a couple of Big Ideas. Well worth the time, if not all of it.

Anthony Lane
New Yorker
Top Critic
September 7, 2009

You don't feel bamboozled, fooled, or patronized by District 9, as you did by most of the summer blockbusters. You feel winded, shaken, and shamed.

Tom Huddlestone
Time Out
Top Critic
September 4, 2009

Perhaps we're witnessing a new dawn for politically engaged sci-fi and horror, with Blomkamp as a latter-day George Romero. Either way, this is a stunningly impressive debut.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic
August 17, 2009

To call this the best shrimp-from-outer-space South African apartheid allegory ever made does not begin to do it justice. But it's a start.

Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
Top Critic
August 17, 2009

This is a great movie.

Ben Lyons
At the Movies
Top Critic
August 17, 2009

What an achievement in filmmaking.

J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

The backstory beats the hell out of the present-tense plot, a routine affair in which a well-meaning doofus working for the Man is infected with a virus, starts turning into an alien himself, and falls in with the oppressed creatures.

Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

A bloody good time. One of the most original movies of the summer.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

In this summer of gargantuan mediocrities, a modestly budgeted project with an actual idea in its head, and the wiles to manifest it onscreen, exploding heads and all -- that's something.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

A memorable, monstrous fable that's consistently gripping.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Kyle Smith
New York Post
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

The movie falls into the same uneasy category as Eight Legged Freaks: too tongue-in-cheek to be thrilling, not funny enough to be a comedy.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

The wildest science-fiction film to come out all year.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

In a good summer, there's usually a movie that will come out of nowhere and completely wow us. This is a good summer, and that movie is District 9.

Amy Biancolli
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

Every now and then, a film comes along that both defies and compels description.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Tom Keogh
Seattle Times
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

The film all but gets away from [the director] as battles take over and opportunities to explore the story as more than the sum of its weapons disappears.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

The fresh premise over, the stale action returns.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Daniel Engber
Slate
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

As an allegory of racial conflict and mass immigration, District 9 never really goes anywhere: The appealing premise fades into the background before 20 minutes have elapsed.

Adam Graham
Detroit News
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

You've seen alien invasion flicks before, and you've seen more than your share of summer blockbusters. But you've never seen anything quite like District 9.

Full Review | Original Score: A-
Cary Darling
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

This might go down as the year that science-fiction cinema, despite the deafening crash and clangor of sparring robots, began to rediscover its brains, heart and soul.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

A thinking man's, or man-boy's, Transformers.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

If you're looking for the late-summer special-effects action fantasy with big franchise potential, forget about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. (You already forgot? Fine.) Instead, proceed directly to District 9.

Christopher Orr
The New Republic
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

District 9 succeeds brilliantly as an exercise in style, but the style promises a level of substance the film never quite delivers.

Peter Howell
Toronto Star
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

In a summer where toy robots and action heroes have rocked the box office and killed brain cells, it's nice to see a movie where some serious thought has been put into reviving a stale genre.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Joanne Kaufman
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

There's a wonderfully sly, farcical verve to these early moments, but it dissipates when the script, with its strains of E.T. and The Fly, moves into high sci-fi gear.

Claudia Puig
USA Today
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

District 9 proves that sci-fi thrillers don't have to be star-studded or mega-budgeted to be visually compelling and thoroughly entertaining.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
John Anderson
Washington Post
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

A sci-fi-fueled indictment of man's inhumanity to man -- and the non-human -- District 9 is all horribly familiar, and transfixing.

A.O. Scott
New York Times
Top Critic
August 14, 2009

In the midst of it all you almost take for granted the carefully rendered details of the setting, the tightness of the editing and the inventiveness of the special effects.

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

This baby has the stuff to end the movie summer on a note of dazzle and distinction.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

What is absolutely impressive are the visual effects: the hordes of aliens, the mother ship, the seamless blending of the real with the fantastic.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

Socked in with the whiplash action and over-the-top gore is a story that's shockingly funny, clever and emotionally resonant. District 9 is that rarest kind of film, magnificent trash.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

In an ideal world, every Hollywood studio suit would be forced to sit through District 9 as part of a curriculum titled "How to Make a Summer Movie That Delivers."

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Scott Tobias
AV Club
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

District 9 fuses science fiction mayhem and biting social commentary as well as any film since Starship Troopers. It's the rare alien invasion story that has the aliens running scared.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

It's an outsider blockbuster, a juicy, bravura piece of moviemaking pulp, and its hellacious style almost -- but not quite -- disguises its shortcomings as a story.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

It's a grimy, consistently surprising and fundamentally human-centric science-fiction yarn, reminiscent of the dystopian, semi-realistic 1970s tradition.

James Berardinelli
ReelViews
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

I, for one, hope the inhabitants of Earth never encounter visitors from another planet because the reality of how we might interact with them could be close to what is depicted here, and that's a depressing thought.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
James Rocchi
MSN Movies
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

A great example of how fresh science fiction can be when it's not just handed over to the special effects team and then the marketing division. "District 9" is far from perfect, but every frame in it drips with ambition, energy and vision.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

The reason District 9 reverberates so loudly is because its moral indignation is cranked to 11.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic
August 13, 2009

District 9 does a lot of things right, including giving us aliens to remind us not everyone who comes in a spaceship need be angelic, octopod or stainless steel.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic
August 12, 2009

District 9 proves that there's intelligent alien life in the movie universe this summer.

Full Review | Original Score: A
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out New York
Top Critic
August 12, 2009

District 9 has too many gory vaporizations to qualify as a serious statement on race relations, but it does outclank Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by a wide margin, and you thrill to the cleanly cut action sequences.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Kerry Lengel
Arizona Republic
Top Critic
August 12, 2009

For science-fiction fans looking for a bit more brainpower than Transformers has to offer, District 9 points the way toward redemption for a movie genre that could use an infusion of artistic ambition.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
Top Critic
August 12, 2009

This is one intense, intelligent, well-crafted action movie - one that dazzles the eye with seamless special effects but also makes you think without preaching.

Sara Vilkomerson
New York Observer
Top Critic
August 12, 2009

District 9 is the most exciting science fiction movie to come along in ages; definitely the most thrilling film of the summer; and quite possibly the best film I've seen all year.

Scott Foundas
Village Voice
Top Critic
August 11, 2009

Even in the movie's most conventional stretches, Blomkamp puts things across with terrific verve, using action and computer effects to enhance rather than trump story and character.

Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic
July 30, 2009

A genuinely original science fiction film that grabs you immediately, not letting go until the final shot.

Justin Chang
Variety
Top Critic
July 30, 2009

This grossly engrossing speculative fiction bears Jackson's blood-splattered fingerprints but also heralds first-time feature director Neill Blomkamp as a nimble talent to watch.