Friday, September 18, 2009

9, A Review

A few days ago I went and watched the movie 9. You may remember me mentioning something about it a few weeks ago. I particularly wanted to watch it in theatres, as the big-screen sounds and animation for such a movie is something that a home theatre cannot hope to compare to. The movie is directed by Shane Acker, produced by Tim Burton, and features the voices of Elijah Wood (9), John C. Reilly (5), and Jennifer Connelly (7).

The film begins with 9, a stitchpunk doll, waking up to a desolate world, ruined from war and devoid of life. A scattering of machines walk the harsh landscape, all the time looking for any signs of life (presumably that's what they're doing). 9 spies a group of other stitchpunks walking on the horizon, and he makes his way out of the destroyed building, grabbing a mysterious looking object before he leaves.

This starts a journey that is epic in scale, as the fate of all life is put on the battlefield. There are 9 total stitchpunks, and each one is unique and special. Together they must overcome difficulties and restore life to the ravaged world.

To me, watching 9 was like watching a movie version of a video game. The characters can rummage through the piles of junk and customize their weapons or apparel, there's a archetypal antagonist, and the quest to save life fits in there perfectly.

I had two major problems with 9. First, I felt that the characters were all mostly flat and stereotyped. The hero is 9, a young idealist. The other stitchpunks fall neatly in line. There's an untrusting one. There's a mean brute. There's a few kind and trusting ones. There's a wizened pair that have the answers to questions. There's a love interest for 9. There's a crazy one, who somehow has the answer to the mysterious object 9 took from the beginning. And the machines are all just wanting to wipe out all traces of life. The characterization for this film fell short, and I didn't feel any connection to any of them.

The second problem I had was that the movie didn't seem to have much of a plot, or a backstory, either. Sure, the characters did things, but the things they did were mostly dull and not too exciting. And when they did important things, they were predictable and expected. Even the ending was predictable. And the backstory, which had potential, was typical and lacking sufficient explanation.

Despite the flat characters and the less-than-stellar plot, the movie wasn't all in shambles. The film was an absolute joy to watch. The CGI is amazing. The unique post-apocalyptic art style the designers were shooting for worked superbly, and I enjoyed seeing the art in action. The stitchpunks each have their own individual design, and every one of them were cool to look at. Some of the inventions they come up with are also pretty impressive.

Overall, I paid $6 for a matinee ticket to an okay movie. Was it worth it? Yes. Did I learn anything or feel anything special from watching it? No. Nothing new, anyway. Terminator, The Matrix, and WALL-E have already taught us not to put too much stock in machines, and that they'll eventually turn against us. Would I recommend this to you? Yes, and no. If you want to see some pretty cool artistic ideas in a bleak world and you don't care to spend money on that, go for it. If you're looking for an epiphany, you may have to try something else.

On a side note, doesn't that Fantastic Mr. Fox look awesome?


Krista said...

Hummm, great review! I think I'll wait and rent it, though...

Okie said...

Thanks for a great review. I was super stoked when I first heard about this movie and grew more excited with the trailers and press.

I haven't seen it yet, but I have bee hearing/reading many lukewarm reviews and I'm disappointed by that. At the same time, I still do want to try and see it in the theatre for the big screen experience, but if it ends up being a rental for me, I won't cry to hard.

logankstewart said...

@Krista: Since you're an artist and you like fantasy I think you'll enjoy watching it when you do, at least for the artistic elements.

@Okie: I felt the exact same way. If you do go to the theatres, enjoy.

Kristopher A. Denby said...

Well, I can't say that I had any higher hopes for the movie than what you just illustrated. I'll give it a try and see what shakes out.

On a side note: I think movies should continue to hammer home how the misuses and overuses of science and technology could eventually mean very bad things for us. Sadly, though, I don't think it will matter. We as a people are reactionary in nature. We don't pay attention until an issue has already become a crisis.

logankstewart said...

@Denby: Well said. I think that is part of the allure of Post-Apocalyptic fiction. It serves as both a warning to humanity, but also is enjoyable to watch, too. Enjoy the film when you watch it!