Film – 9Thursday, 3rd December, 2009 | 2 Comments »
This visually stunning animated movie runs with the post-apocalyptic cliché of man-overrun-by-machines. After a war that ends all biological life all that’s left is a handful of numbered, sentient rag-dolls and a brutal prowling villain. We follow the titular character 9 on his adventure to the film’s unsatisfactory conclusion.
Director Shane Acker
Starring Christopher Plummer, Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly
In the most literal sense, Shane Acker’s 9 is worth seeing. Beautifully animated, the film never lacks in the eye-candy department, stunning us with its gorgeous visuals throughout. And while at times it comes off as intelligent and emotionally honest, this after-the-Armageddon study of human nature quickly collapses under its own garbled ideas and rushed ending.
Running with the post-apocalyptic cliché of man-overrun-by-machines (those bloody machines…), after a war that ends all biological life, all that’s left is a handful of numbered, sentient rag-dolls and a brutal prowling villain. We follow the titular character (Wood) as he falls into being and turns out to be a rebel hellbent on seeking truth and adventure. While his fellow, uh, countrydolls would prefer the secure sanctuary of a beautifully-rendered cathedral, 9 risks their existence to find very meaning behind it.
Developed from an animated short, the original spin on a cliché undoubtedly made for a great mini-movie. But in its expanded form, 9 picks up some rot that fades its solid story and cohesive message out of transmission. Through its end-of-the-world fog and charred-everything smog, the tone changes so often that we’re unsure as to whether we’re watching the philosophical explorations of an adult sci-fi feature, or the basic black-and-white themes of an animated kids flick.
On the one hand, we have the clear-cut dolls: lovable and hateable, the characters are a joy to watch, dividing that line between believably wholesome and suitably sinister. On the other, it’s when the reason behind their simplistic nature is revealed (in the film’s only master stroke) that things take a turn for the PG-13-worse – the smattering of death involved is dealt with in such a frank and brutal manner that if Acker had made a decision either way, it would be all the better for it.
But if confusion was already riding high, it all comes crashing to a complete letdown in its rushed, all-singing, all-dancing ending. With an equal measure of mixed ideology and lack of explanation, the conclusion comes off more like a tacked-on video-game cinematic than anything the film had resembled for the past 75 minutes. You left wondering what exactly you’ve watched: every scene looked amazing and the story was so full of promise, but there’s a hole in its soul that leaves a nagging sense of disappointment.