If you’ve seen the movie 9 your head might be filled with unanswered questions and you might feel a bit confused. Don’t worry, that’s the proper and only way to feel. If you haven’t seen the movie, well then you’re probably better off…
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD (If you read on and I spoil the movie for you, it’s your own damn fault)!!!
9 is an animated fantasy adventure directed Shane Acker. It is the feature-length expansion of his Academy Award-nominated 2005 short film of the same name. The story is set in the near future when the world has come to an end after a war between men and machines (you know, like in Terminator basically). With the last breath of humanity a scientist makes 9 small creations to sustain life on earth before dying himself.
Here is the trailer…
… and also the 2005 short film, that the movie is based on.
So far so good, right? WRONG! The sorry excuse for a story doesn’t hold a candle to the amazing visuals (which is a damn shame). The story is wafer thin and so full of plot holes, that it makes the viewing experience a bit frustrating. Even the characters themselves seem to have a huge question mark imprinted in their facial expressions all trough the movie (with those round bug eyes). WHA WHA WHAAT???
The story starts when #9 is created (voiced by Elijah Wood). He start looking for answers and finds #2 (Martin Landau). Right after they meet, a horrible dog-like creature called the Beast attacks them and takes #2 away. From this point on #9 is obsessively driven to save him and everyone else. So here’s my first question.
1) Why #9 (the protagonist) does what he does? He starts off as this fragile and scared person, who suddenly transforms into a brave warrior. I can almost buy into the fact that he wants to save #2, because he saved #9′s life first. But when the story goes on it just doesn’t make much sense. Soon after, #9 finds #1 (Christopher Plummer), #8 (Fred Tatasciore), #6 (Crispin Glover) and #5 (John C. Reilly). He tries to get them to help #2, but #1 is against this because it would be too dangerous. Later on #9 discovers that #1 has send #2 out on purpose (to die), because he was old and was asking too many questions.
2) How the hell is #2 old, if he is not human and he was created just a short while ago? Did the scientist make him old on purpose or what? This doesn’t make any friggin’ sense. The timelines are all mixed up. Well anyway, #9 won’t take no for an answer and persuades #5 to go with him. #9 and #5 arrive to the old factory, where the Beast had taken #2, who they find alive. The Beast is there and they fight. Suddenly from thin air #7 (Jennifer Connelly) emerges and kills the Beast like it was nothing. Mind you that the Beast is supposedly the only machine left, and has been agonizing our creatures for a long time now.
3) So why is it suddenly so easy to kill the only threat they had? Why weren’t they able to do that before? Well there is no answer except deus ex machina. They kill the Beast and free #2. But in the middle of all this #9 inserts a small device that I call a thingamajig (which he found from the scientists study earlier) into the Great Machine.
4) Why the hell #9 inserts the thingamajig into the Great Machine? WHYYYY????!!!! This bit drove me crazy. It is just shown a few seconds ago that the Beast was trying to do the exact same thing. HELLO!!! Usually you do the opposite than the bad guys are doing! This brain fart of an idea of course awakens the Great Machine, that immediately starts building more machines. So now it’s 9 little rag dolls against hundreds of killer robots. This also raises the question:
5) Why wasn’t the Great Machine working before? Why wasn’t there any other robots left? I would understand if the war would have been fought a 100 years ago, but the human bodies laying around implicate that the war ended like a week ago. I just can’t wrap my brain around it. Well then…
6) Did the scientist have something to do with this? In the end of the movie it is revealed that it was the same scientist who had created the Great Machine. It is implicated (but not explained in any way) that maybe the scientist had taken the thingamajig out from the Machine, thus enabling it. Also when the Machine is awaken it kills #2 by sucking something that seems to be his life force (soul) out of him. Way to go #9! Because of you #2 is now dead and now you have hundreds of killer robots after you. I mean, what the f*ck were you thinking?!? At this point I had to ask myself…
7. Why did I go see this movie? Well, this I actually can answer. It’s simple. The movie had so much promise and potential. The visual world is great and Tim Burton is one of the producers. So why not, right? About that same time I was also wondering…
8. Why is #8 getting his rocks off with a magnet? I know this is not a plot hole or anything like that, it was just a bit weird.
9. What is up with that anti-climax ending? Before the movie is over, the Great Machine has killed three other creatures. No wrong in that, but it is clearly implicated that the life forces or souls of the creatures are trapped in the Machine and by destroying it, the souls can go free and the creatures can be brought back to life. But noooo. After the creatures get the thingamajig out of the Machine and destroy it, the souls just simply rise to the heavens with a very religious wibe. And then, it starts to rain…
Ok, my point is, the story leaves out so many things that you spend all of your time wondering and pondering, instead of concentrating on the movie.
So the bottom line is that the movie feels fast and unthought. Like there just wasn’t enough material to go on. The movie has great themes, that get lost in the mess. What you need to realize is that in the fantasy genre you can get away with anything if you just give you viewers the right instructions.
But truth be told, it’s not all bad. At times the movie is actually pretty decent. I loved the “steampunk”-styled visual world and the grim killer robots that the Great Machine created. Also the all-star voice cast was quite enjoyable (nothing special, but still enjoyable).
All and all I give the movie 2 1/2 stars. It could easily have been a four star movie, but the script just didn’t work.