Ah Tim Burton, you have returned to my site again. But this time instead of a director, you find yourself in the role of producer to the 2009 relatively forgotten animated film 9. Directed by Shane Acker, 9 was originally a short film created by Acker and given a budget to create a feature-length film. Acker is a relative newcomer to the film making scene and has worked previously on projects such as Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Total Recall (Remake), and 47 Ronin while 9 remains his only feature-length writing and directing role. All that considered, Acker made a pretty successful leap into the film making industry with a visually stunning and mentally stimulating movie. So I suppose this time around, I’m giving the kudos to Burton for funding such a bright mind.
9 is the story of a dystopian future where a mix of pollution and technology has destroyed the world and annihilated the human race and are now extinct. Left in its wake are the robots that the human race created that led to their extinction… As well as a small hope of redemption since the former creator of the AI technology was able to create new artificial life using his own life essence into nine rag dolls each with various parts of his personality and each designated by the number in which they were created. The last of these dolls, 9 (Elijah Wood) comes into being just as the doctor who created them breathes his final breath. He then discovers the other eight rag dolls that were created by this scientist and how they are currently being lead by the curmudgeonly old leader 1 (Christopher Plummer). The remainder of the story focuses on these rag dolls fighting the machines left in the wake of the apocalypse and questioning the system 1 has put in place after 9 has been created.
Animation is Phenomenal
Shane Acker is really at his best with this movie and the short that it was inspired from. The animation truly gives the feeling of destitute, gritty, and grim. Not to mention a level of grandness to the everyday things left over by the extinct human race. The light bulb turns into a torch for the rag dolls and in order to traverse a relatively small library requires a massive system of gears and technology created from rope, gears, cogs, and hopes and prayers. The rag dolls themselves are very animated and enjoyable to watch as there are very subtle advantages and disadvantages to having the numbered potato sack bodies.
The animation has an attention to detail that is really enjoyable and something that gives the film its own identity.
Good Commentary on Pollution and Runaway Technology
Yes, the subtlety of the film is lacking as the message is delivered pretty bluntly, but still it is a pretty good concept none the less and a lot more entertaining than Al Gore could have ever hoped to achieve. The whole story focuses around the idea of the creation of artificial intelligence and due to the fact that the AI was both used for military purposes but devoid of all humanity that the robots naturally pull a SkyNet and destroy the world through gas that wipes out the Earth’s population, killing anything organic.
I do enjoy the fact that the story does follow the concepts of AI and how it could be turned against us if we do not use it properly. Not to mention the way the world is left with the debris and the destruction from the overthrowing. That the only thing really left is the trash to be reused and recycled for the rag doll’s benefit. It seems that the most of what we would consider trash is used as an essential way of life. Very interesting and enjoyable uses of the world’s discarded resources.
9 As a Character
One of the biggest problem about 9… Is 9 as a character. Out of the 9 characters, each of them have clear parts about them that is unique to different aspects of humanity. 1 is clearly arrogance, 2 is creative scientific mind, 3 and 4 intelligence, 5 the caring nurturer, 6 the artist, 7 courage and fighting spirit, 8 brute force, and then there is 9. It seems that they intended for 9 to be the more natural leader to play the foil to 1’s stubborn dominance over others… And they play him off to be the most ‘human’ of the group. But really he just comes across has a dull character who makes the wrong choices at the right moments and has enough confidence to coerce others to follow him. The 9 character just doesn’t feel like an aspect of humanity… Well he does but not anything that is seen in the other 8. It could be argued that he is an amalgamation of them all, thus the most human… But really it just doesn’t feel like a good representation. Which isn’t helped by the fact that Elijah Wood gives him very little to no character to the voice acting.
To see what the creator intended for the character itself shows that there is a possibility there for a good character. But the tragedy of it is that it just didn’t come through on camera and thus it makes for a big part of one of the films downfalls.
At the end of the film it is strongly hinted that the surviving rag dolls will restart or repopulate the earth and it ends on a relatively happy note with bacteria laced rain falling to Earth… Okay… How? It makes sense that the world can be restarted and the planet itself can be saved… But as far as Earth that was returning… That is going to take thousands of years of evolution just for it to have some semblance of the world that was. And the four characters who survived… They are going to facilitate all of this? Even though they seemed somewhat resilient those potato sack bodies can’t last forever. What happens if any of them gets destroyed or disassembled? The future of existence rests on the shoulders of thousands of years of evolution and four rag dolls… Not exactly the best future imaginable. I suppose some people could call it a victory… But I think the best the ending gave us was the break even approach.
Probably the greatest downfall of the movie is that it is relatively forgettable. It had a grandiose way of showing what is probably the most insignificant battle in history. The animation itself is brilliant and the story is a pretty damn good one as well. Definitely something that is entertaining to watch and enjoy. Overall it is a decent movie that will most likely be remembered fondly in passing.
Final Score 2.5/5
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