Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 11:53
9posterNot be confused with District 9 (politics and aliens), or Nine (the Fellini inspired musical due out in the fall), 9 is an animated film that is a highly stylized visual treat. Unfortunately, despite the incredible eye-candy, 9 falls flat on story.

Based on the previews I was really excited about this movie that combines a gothic Tim Burton-esque visual style with intensely vivid computer animation. The Tim Burton tie-in isn’t coincidental, since he actually produced this film, but the real credit goes to first time feature film director and creator Shane Acker. A young up-and-comer, Acker originally created 9 as an animated short, but his talent shone through and got him a deal to turn it into a full-length feature.

9 takes place in an alternate version of earth where humanity has been entirely eradicated by machines. Through a series of news footage and newspaper clippings we are told that a super-machine with artificial intelligence had been created called the B.R.A.I.N. It had the capability to assemble endless new mechanical creations. The scientist who invented B.R.A.I.N. was not allowed to perfect his creation before it was seized by the government and used to create weapons. Knowing that life on earth is coming to an end, he creates a series of small rag-dolls called “stitchpunks”, each one numbered, and each one magically embedded with a piece of his soul. His hope is that these small creatures will learn the secret to killing the remaining machines and help life start again on earth.

9pic1The title character, 9, is the last of these creatures to be activated and he awakens to a dreary world with no one to guide him. All he is left with is a mystical looking gadget that knows is important but doesn’t understand. Eventually he meets up with the others of his kind, but they are all living in fear, hiding and scavenging in the ruins. He eventually must lead them to their destiny, although that destiny isn’t entirely clear, even by the end of the film.

9 is visually incredible. The fluid movements of the tiny “stitchpunks” with their creepy little buttons, zippers and stitches somehow manages to steal your heart for these little creatures. I wouldn’t mind having one as a pet! The overall visual style brings to mind a mix of World War II propaganda, the works of H.R. Giger, and the video game “Little Big Planet”. An odd mix for sure, but it works!

9pic2I guess where the movie fails is in the execution of story. I found myself almost as lost as the character 9 was, trying to figure out what was supposed to be happening and why. I enjoyed coming along for the ride, but never knowing what the goal was kept me from getting involved in the story. I really didn’t get emotionally invested in anything that was going on, and that should have been the whole point of the film. The movie is about souls, and yet that is what it seems to lack.

9 is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of serious animation or appreciate the artistic vision. In this sense it is visual perfection. As for a fun night out at the movies, it is lacking in entertainment value.