Before District 9
The Plot: Fevered political debate drama. It’s 1982, and a mysterious spaceship arrives on Earth, hovering above Johannesburg.
After the ship stops and nothing emerges from it, nobody knows what to do. Debate from around the world fires up as important figures weigh in with their ideas and solutions.
The Pope pronounces it a Godlike appearance that must be respected and worshipped. Others are terrified and want it blown out of the sky.
Do they open Pandora’s box? Culminates in a sad/moving montage of when the ship is finally opened, revealing a million skeletal aliens all fighting for their lives.
Most Awesome Scene: No-nonsense Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher wades into the debate and makes short work of the bumbling men around her. She wants the ship destroyed, and will stop at nothing to get the job done.
Starring: Cate Blanchett as Thatcher.
The Plot: Alien courtroom drama.
Alien activist Marlene Wernick fights for the rights of the Joho newcomers, and wants legislation passed that outlaws the derogatory ‘prawns’ slang.
Believing the aliens to be beautiful and misunderstood, she assembles a case for their release, drawing on people who have witnessed cruelty against aliens.
In court, she clashes with Wikus van de Merwe, an operative of the Multinational Unit who has been sent to prove that the aliens are volatile and need to be segregated.
Most Awesome Scene: The edge-of-your-seat moment when a witness of alien maltreatment is being cross-examined by Wikus. As Wikus turns up the heat, the witness’ story falls apart. Marlene’s crestfallen face breaks the hearts of every audience member.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Sharlto Copley
The Plot: With the alien ‘prawn’ population now loose from their alien craft, the Multinational Unit (MNU) sets up a private military corp to combat their wild ways and keep the ETs in order.
As leader Koobus Venter attempts to get the job done, he contends with dissent in the ranks as in-fighting runs rampant. Eventually, though, they become a solid and efficient team.
Most Awesome Scene: Koobus proves his mettle as the head of MNU’s military corp by entering the sewers, where cutthroat rogue prawns have made their home.
Faced with an onslaught of the savage creatures, he emerges from a man hole into the sunlight, covered in alien blood and screaming with victory.
Starring: David James
The Plot: In the wake of the opening of the alien ship, the people of Johannesburg are gripped with paranoia and fear.
In response, a terrible new law is passed that leads to the savage and blood-splattered Joho witch trials. As the Joho population become fearful that aliens have the ability to take over human bodies or assume human form, McCarthyism unfurls in bloody Technicolor.
The witch trials spiral out of control, and a concentration camp dubbed District 8 is established. Here, people who are thought to be infected with alien diseases are sent to be dealt with, Guantanamo Bay-style.
Most Awesome Scene: The D8 detainees are lined up in the cafeteria for what they think is their final meal. It ends up being their final resting place. Set to the strains of a tragic Operatic classic.
Starring: A cast of unknowns.
The Plot: A rogue foreign biotechs company want the spaceship for their own to study and use in illicit practices.
An SAS-like team are sent by Russia (natch) to steal the craft and drag it into their own airspace.
Working as a young upstart at the MNU, a certain Wikus van de Merwe is tasked by his ball-busting boss to go along on a very dangerous mission to oversee the fight back against Russia.
When he inadvertently ends up foiling the Russian plan all on his lonesome, Wikus is promoted to the position that we find him in in District 9 .
Most Awesome Scene: A mid-air confrontation between Russian ops and the MNU, who battle it out over the Joho skyline.
Starring: David James, Sharlto Copley
Operation District 9
The Plot: The military test out using prawns in the army. They’re large, powerful, hard to kill and good with guns.
But no matter how hard they try, the prawns face a constant onslaught of racism and prejudice. When a human soldier is slaughtered in his sleep, a manhunt begins for his murderer.
Was it a prawn or a human?
Most Awesome Scene: A training montage set to a head-banging '80s tune, in which the prawns pump iron and make mincemeat of the assault course, showing up their human peers with unprecedented displays of strength and stamina.
Starring: Cast of unknowns.
D9: On The Streets
The Plot: When the spaceship is cracked open, one prawn – we’ll call him ‘Bud’ – escapes district incarceration.
Breaking out into the streets of Joho, he becomes a mafia kingpin, renowned because nobody has ever seen his face. They say he was victim of a car bombing. They say that he has terrible knife scars. They say a lot of things.
But really Bud is a good guy, manipulating the bad guys of South Africa for his own purposes...
Most Awesome Scene: Bud has a noir-esque meeting in a smoky bar with the crime bosses of Joho. They try to mess with him. He teaches them a lesson in arse-whipping.
Starring: Andy Serkis as the CGI motion-captured Bud
The Plot: It is 2009, a year before Wikus got infected and transformed into a prawn. He is warned by a barmy street prophet of his own impending doom - a terrible change is coming.
Through some kind of time-bending MacGuffin (we’ll figure out the details later), Wikus is transported forward in time. He finds himself in District 9 – and there, across the slums, he sees his future self burning and laying waste to prawn houses.
A lot of clever almost-meets happen as Wikus tries to figure out how to stop his future self from turning into a prawn.
Yep, it’s Back to the Future Part II with Wikus. C’mon folks, two Wikus’s for the price of one!
Most Awesome Scene: A nostalgic moment in which Past Wikus watches Future Wikus’s wife upset and dealing with her husband’s apparent turn-tailing. He goes inside and tries to make amends...
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Sharlto Copley, Vanessa Haywood
The Plot: Wikus’ story through the eyes of one of his colleagues.
It’s 2010. Wikus is serving eviction notices and destroying prawn eggs. But what are his colleagues up to? Intertwining Wikus’s story with that of Hill, another field officer who is slightly more sensitive to the aliens’ plight, we get a fresh perspective on what happened to Wikus.
Most Awesome Scene: Hill and Wikus come to loggerheads at MNU, sparking a feud. Hill reveals he has explosives in his bag, and won’t think twice about taking out the whole building...
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Colin Firth
District 9: Homeworld
The Plot: Total sci-fi extravaganza based on the prawns’ home planet. Here, war has ripped the planet to pieces.
We follow one prawn family as they try to live their lives despite the war. But when The Father is shot and killed in the street, and their house is blown to smithereens, it’s up to The Mother to fend for her children as they embark on a life on the run.
And when rumours abound that a spaceship is hotfooting it outta there in search of planets with greener pastures, she mounts a mission to get her and her children onboard...
Most Awesome Scene: The destruction of The Family’s street, as bombs drop from the sky. The Mother tries to fight her way free while her two prawnlings hang on for dear life.
Starring: Sigourney Weaver motion-capturing The Mother, and a massive cast of CGI prawns.
District 9: The Claw That Rocks the Cradle
The Plot: A couple want to adopt an alien infant.
Having knocked it over with their car, Jake and Norma take it in despite their better judgement, and fall in love with the little prawn.
But soon they are discovered, and must fight to keep the alien child.
Most Awesome Scene: Jake tries to teach Little Squirt how to play baseball. But they have to do it at night or they’ll get caught. Lots of fireflies come out and light up their clandestine ball game. It is beautiful and moving.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber
Wikus: From Birth to Mutation
The Plot: A documentary retrospective of Wikus’s life as captured through home video footage. We watch him as a child, growing up, graduating, buying his first car.
It’s a powerful testimony to tragedy, as one man’s life takes the slow road to catastrophe. Bring the tissues with you - this one’s a tear-jerker.
Most Awesome Scene: Wikus’s seventh birthday recording, shot out in the van de Merwe’s backyard. As wee Wikus is blowing out the candles, the cameraman pans upwards to see the alien spacecraft descending on Johannesburg...
Starring: Sharlto Copley