FORGET Transformers, Terminator Salvation, GI Joe and even the rejuvenated crew of the Starship Enterprise... the science-fiction blockbuster of the year has arrived.

Produced by Peter Jackson and shot on location in Johannesburg, District 9 has taken America by storm – and now the alien invasion begins on these shores.

Director Neill Blomkamp establishes his heightened reality through a breathlessly-constructed patchwork of 24-hour newsreel footage from the South African Broadcasting Corporation, documentary excerpts, interviews and tour-de-force action sequences.

Amid the miasma of film-making styles, all expertly interwoven by editor Julian Clarke, a heartbreaking morality tale about humanity's intolerance emerges, augmented with state-of-the-art visual effects from the wizards at Jackson's Weta (also responsible for his Lord Of The Rings trilogy).

It is truly remarkable for a first-time feature film director to keep a tight rein on all these disparate elements and meld them with such dynamism and style.

Blomkamp opens in the early 1980s with faux news footage of a giant spaceship hovering over the largest city in his native South Africa.

On-board, the military discovers thousands of malnourished aliens, which are granted refugee status on Earth and segregated in the titular containment facility, away from an increasingly xenophobic human population.

Over the next two decades, the camp becomes a ghetto, rife with crime, and locals turn against the extra-terrestrials known by the derogatory nickname of 'prawns'.