Right from the start, “District 9” grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Director Neill Blomkamp, who co-wrote the script with Terri Tatchell, eschews any introductory ramp-up and just slaps us down in the middle of hell, leaving it to us to figure out the deal. No meet-cute. No establishing that our hero is a wonderful family man and champion hang glider. Instead, we get Wikus Van De Merwe — an ineffectual corporate drone in whom we all recognize some part of ourselves. Which is what makes the movie tick. The carefully constructed screenplay delivers what too many studio special-effects epics lack: We care. About the characters, even though they all have foreign names and thick accents. About the stunning action scenes — not because of how many explosions there were and how much it all cost, but because what happens next actually matters.
Ted Humphrey is co-executive producer and writer of CBS drama series “The Good Wife.”