Sunday, September 13, 2009

Movie Review: 9

9 ***
Directed by:
Shane Acker.
Written By: Pamela Pettler & Shane Acker.
Starring: Christopher Plummer (#1), Martin Landau (#2), John C. Reilly (#5), Crispin Glover (#6 ), Jennifer Connelly (#7), Fred Tatasciore (#8), Elijah Wood (#9), Alan Oppenheimer (The Scientist), Tom Kane (Dictator).

9 is a visually stunning animated film that takes place after the end of the world. Humanity has been destroyed by a war with the machines they created to make their lives easier. Now, the earth has all been destroyed. The only residents left on earth - or at least in this place on earth - are nine rag dolls created by a scientist, and one machine that tries to capture them. The last of these rag dolls, known as 9 (because of the giant 9 on his back) has just come to life and ventured out in the wasteland that the world has become. He quickly meets another rag doll 2, who befriends him, but then is dragged away by the beast. 9 comes soon finds the clan, led by 1 (Christopher Plummer), a scared man (who wears a Pope hat), who tries to convince the dolls to simply hide out in the church until the beast is gone. 9 wants to go after 2, and he thus sets into motion the events of the movie. 9 also has possession of a strange disk, and when he finds the place where it goes, he puts it in, and brings back to life the machine that destroyed the world in the first place.

9 is a visually stunning movie from beginning to end. It creates a complex visual environment, full of dark places that stick in your mind after the movie is over. The church, with its large stain glass window of Jesus, is particularly interesting. It fits in nicely with the films atheist overtones. 1 is a coward, who rules through fear mongering and intimidation, using his lunk head muscle - 8 - to control the rest of them. Now that 2 is gone, he joins 3, 4 and 7 as dolls who have disappeared into the outer world. 1 does not understand the need to venture out. He is safe and secure in his church, and feels no need to explore the outer world, or the larger meaning of why they are there in the first place. 5 (John C. Reilly) is a little more adventuresome, but is a follower, not a leader. He latches onto 9, because with 2 gone, he has no one else. 6 is little more than an idiot savant, constantly drawing his incoherent drawings. I loved the character design as well, particularly the strange eyes, which iris in and out like they are blinking. There is never a moment of the film that is not visually amazing and striking.

The storyline however is a little too pat and predictable. After all, this is the same basic storyline that the Terminator and Matrix franchises had, with dolls in place of the humans. And the screenplay never really does anything new or different with it. You know from the beginning how things are play out, and we are never wrong. It seems like the director, Shane Acker who also came up with the storyline of movie, seems way more interested in the visuals then the story. And the visuals are stunning. The action sequences are well handled, and intense.

So while 9 is not a great movie, it is a great movie going experience. I hope that Acker continues to make animated films in the future, because we need more adult oriented stories in the genre. But I also hope he lets someone else write the screenplay, so that the storyline can match the visuals.

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