Sometimes a movie comes along and you have to wonder aloud, "What the fuck? How did this happen? How was this movie made?" Though such a thing could easily be said about a host of dog-shit summer films like Wolverine, Transformers 2: Robotic Boogaloo, and that other movie about secret-agent hamsters, the sentiment also applies to Neill Blomkamp's District 9. In this case, however, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Based on Blomkamp's six-minute short film Alive in Joburg, a spaceship full of shit-covered, malnourished aliens appears over Johannesburg, South Africa. The aliens, stuck on Earth with a broken flying saucer, are moved into a refugee camp. Years later, the government, working with MNU, a multinational arms manufacturer, decides to relocate the aliens—disparagingly referred to as "prawns" for their mollusk-like appearance—to a new camp outside of Johannesburg.

MNU desk jockey Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) gets drafted to lead the relocation effort and, while serving eviction notices in the camp, comes down with a nasty alien virus, which begins turning him into a "prawn." Things only get worse from there.

Whoever bankrolled District 9 is either a brilliant madman (or woman) or is trying to get fired. District 9 is violent (vaporizations abound), it's subtitled (even though almost everyone speaks English in a thick South African warble), and it's an allegorical exploration of apartheid and xenophobia (with crazy robot suits!).

While major studios continue to bankroll sequels and remakes of shit TV shows that no one really liked in the first place, District 9 is a perfect example of the kind of bizarre, violent, weirdly wonderful subversive science-fiction film that is practically an endangered species. You would do well to go see it, promptly, instead of spending your money on another Alvin and the Chipmunks movie (BECAUSE THEY'RE MAKING ONE!!!). recommended