September 11, 2009
Review - " 9 " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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is in it's ostensible heroes.
The story keeps getting in the way of our connecting to the earnest little figures whose quest is murky at first and then
undermined by an unsatisfying conclusion. "9" only gets a 6.
Parents should know that this film has grim, unsettling, sometimes grotesque post-apocalyptic images of a ruined world,
characters in frequent peril, violence includes predatory machines and characters who are injured and killed.
Summary: nice animation, cliché action, underdeveloped plot, and very little story to pull the viewer in.
If you haven't seen the film yet
stop reading now. I'm gonna
give away a LOT!
We find out through a recorded
video that the scientist who
created the living rag dolls 1
thru 9 imbued them with life by
giving them pieces of his soul
which is transmitted through
some artifact. (Apparently the
soul can be split into 9 parts -
and to think Lord Voldemort only
managed to split his soul seven
ways.) One thing the filmmakers
or writers got right was the nine
living dolls are different aspects of the scientists personallity. #1 (Christopher Plummer) appears to be his self preservation,
his survival instinct. Smart to get rid of that first if you're going to kill yourself by transplanting your soul into dolls. His only
goal is to protect the dolls from harm. #2 (Martin Landau) is an inventor, a tinkerer. He is the scientists inspiration. #3 & 4 -
the twins are librarians, historians. They are mute - all they do is observe, record, and catalogue. They are there to learn
and teach. #5 (John C Reilly) seems to be his fear and anxiety. He befriends 9 and is there to guide him. #6 (Crispin Glover)
is an artist. He spends all his time drawing pictures of "the artifact" and urging 9 to "go back to the beginning". #7 (Jennifer
Connelly) is a fighter. She's a kickass ninja and the only female member of the ragtag group. She seems to have a bit of a
thing for 9 and often flirts with him. He IS the only member that has a zipper so perhaps he is capable of doing something
about it. #8 (Fred Tatasciore) is a stupid oaf. He's the muscle for #1's dictatorship. He is also fiercely loyal. And the title
character #9 (Elijah Wood) is the scientists morality. He is there to save them.
This same scientist is the one responsible for destroying the world. He created a thinking machine capable of creating. In the
video recording he explains that the machine went wrong because even though it had intelligence it lacked the human soul.
Thus brings us to my problem with the movie. When 9 awakens the machine by putting the artifact in it, the machine starts
sucking the souls out of the dolls. Of course the dolls must fight the machine and destroy it. In the end they hold a sort of
religious ceremony where they release the souls of the dead burlaps sacks which ascend into the heaven. Then it starts to
rain and we see the souls in the raindrops and I guess we are supposed to believe that life will now magically appear on this
barren desolate world.
An ending that would have made a bit more sense would have been if the machine had absorbed all nine of the dolls, at
which point the "flaw" in that it did not possess any humanity/soul would have been fixed. The machine looks around and
sees the destruction it has wrought, and then resolves to rebuild the world. Its new creations are not primitive, mindless
machines like before, and the machine can do what the scientist could not - make new life without sacrificing its own
"humanity" to do so. They become the new people of the world, in the image of man (and/or the dolls).
Of course, that would have made the whole struggle the dolls had against the machine pointless (to an extent), but it would
also show that without 9, they had lived in a sort of ignorance - choosing to fight or hide, but never questioned their larger
purpose or sought to resolve their problems by other means. Much like the machine, to an extent, they were flawed and
incomplete until 9 awoke.
Perhaps 9 would be the last one alive, the only one able to make that jump in logic from what the scientist told him (which
may not necessarily been the scientist's intent), and would figure it out and sacrifice himself instead of destroying the
machine or extracting the souls of his friends. That is the only way I could see all of the dolls "dying" not being too grim, even
if the resolution out of their deaths is one of hope.
I honestly thought that this was what they were going to do when I was watching the scientist explain that the machine had no
soul and that he had put his own soul into the 9 dolls. The whole world being gifted with life with 5/9ths a human soul kind of
makes no sense to me.
Directed By: Shane Acker
Starring: A bunch of burlaps sacks voiced by Elijah Wood, John C
Reilly, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Crispin Glover, Jennifer
My one word review of "9" would have to be disappointing. I love
these CGI animated films, I eagerly look forward to them. "9" was
visually as wonderful as you would expect but the story was lacking. I
think that only Pixar and Dreamworks can tell a good animated tale.
An award-winning animated student film has been turned into a
full-length feature with intricately-designed visuals but a story-line that
feels stuck together with chewing gum and Scotch tape. Tim Burton
protege Shane Acker has proven a better student of the letter of his
mentor's work than the spirit. Burton's films are macabre, even
grotesque. His characters may be haunted (literally or
metaphorically), tortured (ditto), or murderous (ditto again), but they
are as rich and complex as his strikingly imaginative visuals. Acker
permits his images to overwhelm the story and the result is a film that
is too dark for children and too thin for anyone else.
9 is a little burlap rag doll (voice of Elijah Wood) come to life who finds
eight other doll-creatures who appear to be the only sentient
survivors of an apocalypse that has extinguished all living things on
earth. They are being stalked by the same murderous machines that
wiped out their human creators and the movie's greatest strength is
the design and operation of these contraptions. Indeed, it is
impossible not to think that the film is more interested in them than it