Synopsis: From visionary filmmakers Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) and Academy Award®-nominated director Shane Acker comes this visually stunning and original epic adventure. In the final days of humanity, a dedicated scientist gives the spark of life to nine of his creations. The world has turned into an unrecognizable landscape of machines and spare parts, but this group of nine finds that if they band together, their small community might just be able to change the course of history. Featuring the voice talents of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly and Crispin Glover, it’s a thrilling, suspenseful story critics call “richly imaginative.”
eyelights: the animation. the look.
eyesores: the déjà vu vibe. the nonsensical plot.
You know, I had heard mixed things about ‘9’. I had heard that the story was so-so, but that the animation was pretty decent. While the style was appealing to me, this is why I waited so long to see it; I figured that I had other things to do than to see a so-so film.
But then I got the chance to pick-up the blu-ray for peanuts (i.e. less than the price of admission to the cinema) and I started to think that it may be worth checking out anyway, just because I love animation and because it’s always possible that it’s one of those misunderstood gems. Who knows, right?
Alas, it is exactly as it had been described to me.
I should have known when I saw that Tim Burton was one of the film’s
producers: Burton has long been a stylish but vacuous filmmaker. His last really great film was ‘Big Fish’, in 2003, and before that it was ‘Ed Wood’, in 1994. This means that he’s on par for a great movie a decade. Having said this, in 2012 he released ‘Dark Shadows’ and ‘Frankenweenie’.
Anyway, all this to say that his films have a spectacular, frequently fantastical, frequently morbid, look to them, but they are often empty hulls.
‘9’ is no different: it looks terrific, even the character designs weren’t that great, but the story makes no sense whatsoever. And, furthermore, the film is littered with unnecessary action sequence after unnecessary action sequence – it’s as though the filmmakers decided that this would be the only way to keep their ADD-afflicted audience in their seats.
Which leads me to wonder how such a dark film could possibly be geared towards children – which, presumably was the case. Okay, okay… ‘Gremlins‘
was also geared toward young ‘uns, but I find ‘9’ extremely bleak, whereas ‘Gremlins’ at least a mischievous and humourous quality to it that offset the scariness.
‘9’, meanwhile, is hardly a funny film.
Basically, we’re looking at a post-apocalyptic landscape wherein all or almost all of humanity has been slaughtered by a man-made machine intelligent enough to build its own robot army to eradicate its creators. The story follows the adventure of a rag doll robot with no name, but which has been numbered “9” on his back, as he/it tries to figure out what is happening and escape danger at the same time.
It’s a joyless affair, and the story is so convoluted that the writers obviously didn’t notice that much of it remains inexplicable or simply it doesn’t make any sense.
*MAJOR spoiler alert*
-Why did the inventor build cloth robots? Why cloth? Wouldn’t that make their delicate internal works susceptible to water damage?
-Why does ‘9’ have a big zipper down the front while the others don’t? Was he/it designed with a different purpose in mind? If so, what was it?-Why are the robots all similar-looking except for one of them, ‘8’? Why was ‘8’ a big doughy potato sack, whereas all the others aren’t? If he were a first model, fine, but he’s the 8th one – and ‘7’ and ‘9’ follow similar blueprints. So what happened in between?
-Why did the inventor imbue nine different robots with parts of his own soul? How the heck did he manage that? Did he have less soul afterwards? Did he throw away all his r&b records? And why nine? Why not thirteen? Why not seven? Why not three? Why not just one?
-Why was it essential to release the souls to give earth a second chance? What made parts of the inventor’s soul so special that releasing them would save the earth? After all the blood spilled thus far, why weren’t those souls good enough? Why was his soul so important?
-And why five souls? Why weren’t all the robots’ souls necessary after all? And, if they weren’t, then why did he build nine of them? How is it that five fractions of one man’s soul does the trick? Why didn’t the inventor have to use his whole soul? And why didn’t he just release his soul into the air, then, instead of making these little robots? WTF?
-Why would the inventor come up with such a convoluted plan and not make the rag dolls aware of it and its purpose? I mean, if no one knows that there is a plan, or don’t understand it, then your plan is pretty much doomed to fail, isn’t it? So what was he thinking? Why make it so hard on these clueless automatons?
Which leads me to wonder: If ‘9’ had no idea of the inventor’s plan, why would he/it take the talisman with him? Was he pre-programmed with that instinct? Or was it just a ridiculously random action on his/it’s part much like bringing the Fabrication machine back to life was?
-Why were the dolls released into the world, not just without a plan, but without any indication of where they were hidden? Why didn’t the inventor keep them under his wing until he had completed all nine of them? It’s kind of a dumb plan if you pour your soul into your creations and just let them run off with bit parts of your soul like that, no?
*MAJOR spoiler alert*
All this to say that I found ‘9’ extremely underwhelming. It’s mindless drivel trying to pass itself off as something substantive. It’s an animated film attempting to shake off its “kiddies” label by providing a darker vision, but one that is hardly visionary (‘The Terminator’, anyone?).
In reality, it has nothing to say, it’s nothing new, and it’s all been done much better before. At best it’s 80 minutes of eye candy.
Date of viewing: December 27, 2012