Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. No true fan of science fiction -- or, for that matter, cinema -- can help but thrill to the action, high stakes and suspense built around a very original chase movie.
  2. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    100
    Every now and then, a film comes along that both defies and compels description. District 9 is one such movie: a science-fiction action vehicle so brilliantly and fully imagined that real life, when it resumes after the credits, arrives with a new sense of dread.
  3. To his credit, however, the often-playful Blomkamp never bludgeons his audience with any specific message. He's too busy letting 'er rip with his edge-of-your-seat, and unapologetically violent, sci-fi adventure.
  4. Reviewed by: Matthew Sorrento
    100
    The humanity of District 9 adds another dimension to this multilayered, rewarding work -- one of the best of the summer, and undoubtedly the most inventive from the multiplex this year.
  5. Madly original, cheekily political, altogether exciting District 9.
  6. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    100
    District 9 is very smart sci-fi, but that's just the beginning; it's also a scathing social satire hidden inside a terrific action thriller teeming with gross aliens and regrettable inter-species conflict. And it's a blast. . . .
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    100
    District 9 proves that genre films, besides being a hell of a lot of fun, can say things you hadn't considered and show stuff you haven't seen.
  8. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    100
    A sci-fi-fueled indictment of man's inhumanity to man -- and the non-human -- District 9 is all horribly familiar, and transfixing.
  9. 91
    This is a delicious premise, and Blomkamp, who first played with it in a 2005 short called "Alive in Joburg," has magnified and improved it with ferocious energy, wit and style.
  10. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    90
    Grabs you by the eyeballs from the very first frame.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    90
    District 9 whizzes by with a resourcefulness and mordant wit nearly worthy of its obvious influences: "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Dawn of the Dead," and "Starship Troopers."
  12. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    90
    Though compelling throughout, District 9 never becomes outright terrifying, largely because Blomkamp is less interested in exploiting his aliens for cheap scares than in holding up a mirror to our own bloodthirsty, xenophobic species.
  13. 89
    Blomkamp and his entire cast and crew have created an instant genre classic that transcends the self-limiting ghetto implied by the term "science fiction" and instead, like precursors such as Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still," engages not only the mind but the heart as well. It's magnificent.
  14. 88
    This baby has the stuff to end the movie summer on a note of dazzle and distinction.
  15. 88
    Attention all geeks (and geeks at heart): Get ready for two hours of serious awesome.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    With its clever faux documentary style, this is the most imaginative science-fiction movie to come along in years.
  17. 88
    Anyone who watches District 9 and doesn't think of Apartheid, Nazis, and Josef Mengele needs to spend some time reading a few history books.
  18. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    88
    A great-looking and smart film. It has enough action, wonder, depth, and action to keep any fan of the genre happy. The sociological undertones here are fascinating as well.
  19. South African director Neill Blomkamp set and shot the film around his native Johannesburg, so parallels to apartheid leap to mind. Yet the script he wrote with Terri Tatchell applies to any culture that bluntly excludes another.
  20. The reason District 9 reverberates so loudly is because its moral indignation is cranked to 11.
  21. 83
    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.
  22. The ad campaign for the sci-fi thriller District 9, with mysterious billboards touting aliens among us, is highly creative and amusing. So, in patches, is the movie, which is a thinking man's, or man-boy's, "Transformers."
  23. A memorable, monstrous fable that's consistently gripping.
  24. 80
    Blomkamp’s prawn cocktail has more than enough stylistic chutzpah and originality to make District 9 an essential date.
  25. 80
    In the best B-movie tradition, the filmmakers embed their ideas in an ingenious, propulsive and suspenseful genre entertainment, one that respects your intelligence even as it makes your eyes pop (and, once in a while, your stomach turn).
  26. 75
    Despite its creativity, the movie remains space opera and avoids the higher realms of science-fiction.
  27. Some movies pack such a terrific central idea, even their flaws can’t stop the train. District 9 is one of them.
  28. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    The last time I felt the sort of outrageously kinetic action-movie high District 9 delivers, it was 1981 and George Miller, Mel Gibson, and "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" had just come roaring out of Australia.
  29. 70
    You don't feel bamboozled, fooled, or patronized by District 9, as you did by most of the summer blockbusters. You feel winded, and shaken, and shamed. [September 14, 2009, pg.115]
  30. There is a lot of shield-your-eyes ickiness in District 9, a lot of violence and gore. What there is not a lot of, however, is humanity - even in the film's depiction of the inhumanity humans are capable of.
  31. 50
    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.
  32. Yes, the premise is delightful; no, the delight doesn't last.
  33. 50
    It's a bad joke that District 9 will be hailed for its "originality."
  34. Reviewed by: Daniel Engber
    50
    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.
  35. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    50
    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.
  36. 50
    Unfortunately, as in many such big-screen comic books, the backstory beats the hell out of the present-tense plot.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1207 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Mar 18, 2012
    8
    This isn't just some action movie. This strange sci-fi movie is completely scary, dark, raw, and suspenseful. Sharlto Copley should have atThis isn't just some action movie. This strange sci-fi movie is completely scary, dark, raw, and suspenseful. Sharlto Copley should have at least been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He completely nailed his part, and helps us to feel the emotion and horror. Full Review »
  2. Sep 23, 2011
    9
    This bizarre SF movie, appropriately structured using documentary styled filming, is simply one of the year's best movies that effectivelyThis bizarre SF movie, appropriately structured using documentary styled filming, is simply one of the year's best movies that effectively acknowledges the audience of racial discrimination. Full Review »
  3. May 11, 2011
    5
    What a waste of a great premise! This movie starts out with a really interesting concept and procedes to digress into just another stupidWhat a waste of a great premise! This movie starts out with a really interesting concept and procedes to digress into just another stupid action movie. It makes me very sad, this movie could have really unique and interesting but as the movie progresses it gets less and less unique and interesting and gets more and more cliche action movie explosions. Kudos for a great concept, and shake of the head for failing to do anything with it. Full Review »