I wanted to see this movie before spoilers got vomited all over the Internet, and I'm really glad I took care to preserve my ignorance. (BTW, when did it become so much work to remain unspoiled? Yeesh.) Needless to say, this commentary will be spoiler-free, because I wouldn't want to ruin the flick for you all.
DISTRICT 9 really worked for me because I wasn't expecting one thing or another--the first trailer only showed enough to hook my interest, especially with that alien guy saying he only wanted to go home. And if that tweaked my emotion, it was nothing next to what I got from the movie itself. It delivers on emotional, action-geek, ooky-gore, cerebral levels, too.
I was engaged from the get go, even though you wouldn't think that a story that uses a "documentary"-type approach throughout most of its presentation would lend itself to grabbing you by the heart and twisting. There are scenes in this movie that are so devastating on a personal level (both from the main character's POV as well as the sympathy you feel for some of the aliens) that you can't avoid ye ol' wrench of the guts. It helps that the special effects are seamless, making the aliens seem real. It was only after the film that I realized how good the CGI is.
There are moments where the movie could've been trite, and after you see it, you'll be able to point them out easily. (Avoid this sentence for anything resembling a spoiler if you want, but I'll just give you one hint: cute kids in horror/action movies, just like freakin' Star in TERMINATOR SALVATION.) But D9 never fully goes into cliche territory--it actually kind of teases you with the possibility and dances on the edge of it just enough to give you payoffs to these set ups.
What really stuns me about this film is that is was made for a fraction of the cost of a regular sci-fi/fantasy blockbuster. I mean...how did they pull this off when it takes almost $200 million to finance something like TRANSFORMERS? D9 schools Hollywood, and just for that, I adore it.
Just so you know, there's LOTS of splatter to be had. Bodies exploding. Blood hitting the camera. Meat making those wet smacking sounds as it hits people in the face. A ton of it. I'm only warning you. And there's a good deal of F-word action, also, but since this takes place in South Africa, they say "fook" instead, which tickled my funnybone for some immature reason. If you're good with both of those things, this is one you'll want to see on the big screen. So go. :)