Friday, September 11, 2009

9 - Movie Review

9 - ***

So I will have to admit that I was extremely pumped for this movie.  I had seen my first glimpse of the trailer roughly 6 months ago or so and have been captivated by the idea ever since.  Much like District 9 (odd the two most original movies this year had the number "9" in the title), this was a movie I had no  idea about and was caughy by a good way.

 Here is a movie that looks original and is an animated movie that takes its subject matter seriously.  While I love Pixar movies a great deal they are still geared towards kids with a little adult humor thrown in.  Well written and directed they might be, but as a country we have still not reached the point of using animation as a true means to tell a dramatic story like they have in other countries.  Hopefully, this will help pave the way.

 This movie gets enough points for its originality and innovation alone.  The sheer detail and care that was put into each character and environment is quite the sight to see.  Not to mention the small details that add a real life to this world, such as the scene where the character "8" puts a magnet close to his head to relax a bit.  This is akin to sneaking away to smoke a cigarette in their world I feel and was a small detail I really enjoyed. 

 The movie starts out with our main character "9" coming to life right before us.  Again, I thought this was a very good scene as he comes to life and I feel, for the first few moments, the movie captures the essence of what it would be like to come alive in a strange world and have no idea how or why, very well.  However, this does lead into the one gripe one can have with this movie. 

 The director Shane Acker, it seems, decided to take the approach of putting us right in the middle of the story but and leaving the rest to be told in flashback.

This is a perfectly fine method, assuming of course you fill all the major plot details, either by the characters informing us or through direct flashbacks.  Very quickly 9's journey leads him to another being just like himself, "2."  2 explains little about thieir situation.  He does give 9 the ability to speak now, and in the process finds a special device that 2 recognizes as "what he's been drawing."  Who he is talking about, we are not sure and dont get to find out as "the beast" shows up and kidnaps 2 as well as takes the device that was seemingly such a big find. 

Next, our character 9 is discovered by "5" who takes him to the rest of the remaining crew from the original 9.  It seems they are all surprised as they didnt know there was another but not surprised enough to make a big deal about, they seem to talk about for a minute, then accept it and move on.  I suppose in a time of crises you cant really wax philosophical about these sort of things but I would have liked them to delve a little deeper into this.

Also, once 9 reaches the others we notice the drawings 2 was talking about are drawings made by 6, that we see making these drawings and notice that they are in fact drawings of the device 9 had that was stolen from him.  Why is he drawing this?  Nobody seems to be quite sure, but everyone else in the crew seems to have a purpose, or at least feels like they do, and yet treat 6 and his drawings as some sort of novelty...the mere musings of a mad man.
This is another where a greater level of detail could have been spent, why is he making these drawings, and then, when the device is discovered in their possession, why does 6 not know anything else?  This is a character that is seemingly lost in this story with no purpose other than to make the number consecutive from 1-9.
Once 9 informs the crew about what happened to 2, the groups oldest and de facto leader "1" declares 2 a lost cause and forbids the crew to go after him.  1 was apparently the one who led them to their safe haven as they waited for the war between man and machine to end and now they will wait until this "beast" who took 2 is gone as well.  He seems to be all about the hiding and waiting.
After he hears about 2 and declares him a lost cause he crosses him off a list he is keeping (which is actually an old torn calendar, again, details) and this is where we notice that 3, 4, and 7 are gone as well.  No details are given at this time how that happened.
After a bit 9 convinces 5 to go after 2 just the two of them.  The res of the crew is wrong for just staying and hiding, something has to be done about their situation instead of just waiting.  So off they go.  This, of course, leads to another run-in with the beast where certain doom is spelled out for 9 and 5....until "7" comes out of nowhere to the rescue!  The audience is supposed to be shocked at this point as 7 was crossed out on the list by 1 earlier, but we all know she is not dead as she appeared in the trailer. 
She saves them from the beast and this is when 9 recovers the device he had in the beginning.  After dispatching the beast, they are able to rescue 2 and 9 notices a "plug" with corresponding symbols to what is on the device he has.  Naturally, he decides to plug it in and see what happens.
This is not a good decision as the device ends up sucking the life out of 2  awakens "The Machine" which is nastier even than "The Beast."  9, 7, and 5 must now escape this machine and find out what to do next.  This leads us to 3&4, who we also were supposed to think were dead (but again, appeared in the trailer).  This is where we learn about the war between man and machine and how the 9 came to be where they are.

This is where the story starts to pick up as 9, 7, 5, 3&4 decide to go back to the others and attempt to get everyone together to fight this new machine.  I will refrain from giving any more story details away at this point.
As I mentioned earlier, 9 is a very original movie with a unique look and great animation and voicework.  It is worth the price of admission just to have a look around (and I did find it humorous that my ticket cost me $9).  The story leaves a little to be desired.  After it is rediscovered that 7, 3&4 are alive, it is hinted at that they went their own way and seperated from the rest of the crew un purpose, but this is never delved into with any sort of detail.
I felt this could have been fleshed out a little more and possibly cause a little more tension within the group.  Also, there is a point where 9 raises some poignant questions about their situation and 1 tried to brush them off and get everyone to buy into his agenda.  This causes some harsh words to be thrown and 9 questions "you know something, what do you know" and 1 hints that he actually does know something but doesn't tell and this portion of the story is never brought up again or dealt with in any sort of detail.  It would seem like a good avenue to go down that 1 may have been the same as 9 once but has since changed his attitude because of things that have happened, but this is never dealt with.  Unfortunate to say the least.  There are a few plot holes like these that are never dealt with that I feel could have been by only adding an extra 20 minutes or so to the movie, which would not have killed anybody.
Those issues aside, the movie was extremely enjoyable with very lovable characters and a decent story.  The characters and envirornments were well animated with good voicework and sound effects.  With a little improvement on the storyline this could have been one of the greatest animated movies ever, but fall slightly short of that mark.

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