Dec 10, 2010

[Movies] 9 (2009)

9 (2009)I'm a huge fan of clay animation, and it's probably why I appreciate CGI-animated films as well. And I don't mean just any CGI animation - but more the ones that don't put too much effort into trying to make it look like a live-action movie but more the ones that keep things looking, well, somewhat artificial. It's hard to explain, but it's sort of like why I liked Coraline and the Pixar stuff as opposed to the look at feel for Megamind.

And don't get me wrong - I'm still a Squaresoft Enix fan and I have a completely different level of appreciation for their brand of highly realistic animation.

So there are movies that come along that the animation style alone is enough to get me wanting to see it, regardless of the story. Of course a good story is still key to any movie being successful, but I'm just saying that it's not all that I need to get myself committed to seeing it.

This movie surprised me in a number of ways, but at the same time I can understand why it had rather limited success at the box office. Some things are just a tad too weird for public consumption.

Shane Acker promoting the 2009 film 9 at San D...Image via Wikipedia9 is a feature-length CGI-animted movie based on a short film by Shane Acker. Acker also directed the film and it was produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov.

In a world that could be our own, we find out that the world is in a sad state. A mysterious scientist had developed an artificial intelligence that had gone on to build other machines to serve it and eventually conquers the world as we know it. But out story begins with a sack doll kind of figure that we come to know as 9 (Elijah Wood) waking up along in an old man's laboratory. He has no idea who he is or why he was created. The old man himself lies dead on the floor near the work desk where 9 wakes up. He also sees an odd artifact or talisman nearby that he brings with him instinctively.

He leaves and eventually encounters another "Stitchpunk" figure known as 2 (Martin Landau). 2 is more of a tinkerer inventor and he finds a way to install a voice box into 9 so he can speak. But before the two new friends can get anyway, they are attacked by a fearsome construct that vaguely resembles a cat. The beast takes 2 along with the talisman before 9 can do anything. He passes out and wakes up in an old cathedral that is known as the Sanctuary where other Stitchpunk dolls are. They are led by 1 (Christopher Plummer), who in turn is protected by 8 (Fred Tatasciore). The engineer 5 (John C. Reilly) tends to him and quickly befriends him as he learns more about their story and the fact that 3,4 and 7 appear to be lost out in the wilderness.

The movie is centered around these 9 Stichpunk figures as we eventually meet all of them in the course of the movie. They are, after all, the only "living" beings on the planet given the apocalypse that occurred, killing all other organic life. Thus it does make for a rather desolate world and one that presents little reasons for hope in the short to medium term scale.

The animation is quite stunning, and highly reminiscent of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Pride with the stick work patterns and other such elements. This is not some happy children's movie but is in term something a lot more serious. However I'm not quite sold on this movie having sufficient maturity for older audiences. And this is probably one of the reasons the movie wasn't as popular as it could have been - the target market wasn't overly clear in terms of how it was presented or how the story unfolded.

I feel like they got somewhat confused in terms of where they wanted the story to go. As you look at things, you can only wonder why the scientist figure created these dolls in the first place and what possible purpose they had in the long run. In the end you sort of understand but it's not too clear. Also, the ending isn't even clearly happy or sad, thus leaving you somewhat unfulfilled without the traditional sense of accomplishment or "pay off" a viewer.

Still, it's a visually stunning movie with a story that is fundamentally powerful at its core. I feel like the creator definitely had a good thing going here although it wasn't too clear where he wanted to go once he was presented with a feature-length story.

9 is still a movie I'd recommend to see and I just wish that it got better coverage when it was in the theaters locally, if at all. It gets 3.5 disturbing machine creations out of a possible 5.
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