Thursday, September 10, 2009

Box Office Review - 9

If I listened to the story of 9 and other similar films such as Terminator, The Matrix, and IRobot I would be destroying my computer instead of using it to write my review. Science fiction has warned us for a long time that technology will eventually destroy the human race. 9 tells that exact same story, but sets it in an animated world.

In the film we follow around what appear to be simply constructed rag dolls as they try to survive in a post apocalyptic world run by robots. The character 9 has awaken in this world and is not sure what is going on. He meets up with a doll named 2 who explains what has happened to 9 as well as to the audience. A robot then attacks and takes 2. So sets the movie in motion. There is a little bit of story, then a battle with a robot, a little more story, and so on and that is the entire movie. The films structure reminded me of a video game and it made me think that this would have made a much better game than a movie. You have adventure parts then boss battles all leading to the final big boss battle. That is where the film fails. It just is uninteresting. The film felt like it was repeating its self for the 80 minutes and thus it wasn’t hard to figure out what would happen next. The best way to describe the film is just bland, bland story, animation, and dialogue.

Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, and Crispin Glover all play dolls in the film. The dialogue was so rudimentary that you could have cast anyone in the roles and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Interestingly, Crispin Glover’s character 6 is insane. This guy gets type cast as a crazy person when it is just his voice. I am surprised that the dialogue is so poor as the screenplay was done by Pamela Pettler who also worked on the Monster House and Corpse Bride scripts. That goes to show that having multiple writers on a script can sometimes be a good thing. If the film had sacrificed a good script for great animation the film would have at least been an okay, but that was not to be.

My main issue was that it looked so plain. The tiny doll characters are running around in a giant bombed out city. Most of the surfaces were flat and no detail really showed forth. This was especially apparent during the action scenes. All of the detail and attention was placed on those involved in the fighting leaving the environments looking stale. The problem with this is that the fight then could be set anywhere and it wouldn’t affect what was going on.

There is no doubt in my mind that director Shane Acker is a very talented animator. His original shorts are impressive, though I am not sure if he has evolved past what he was doing four years ago. He has yet to achieve the same abilities in storytelling as he has in animation. Listening to him tell what the story of 9 is all about is much more interesting than what was inevitably put on the screen. That may be because the idea is such a high concept. The idea of the spirit fighting the mind is an interesting one, but nothing was really done with it. There were also some religious undertones in the film as well. The spirit living on after death is something that most animated films wouldn’t touch on. My main wish is that there would have been something memorable about the film, but alas this movie will just get lost in what has been and will be a great year for movies.

Banana Peel

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