Friday, October 9, 2009

9 (2009)


Awakening to a barren wasteland, a scientifically engineered rag doll, 9 (Elijah Wood) finds himself caught in a post apocalyptic world with 8 other rag dolls. Caught between their unique character traits and skills, the group must find a way to work together in order to defeat a machine which seeks to drain them of their life.

I hadn't heard much of Acker's 9 until earlier this year, yet I was cautiously optomistic about the film which featured such a talent heavy cast (including Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Wood, Jennifer Connolly, and Crispin Glover). With a terminator-esque story arch, Acker's short film brought to life survives on solid action and great visuals, while it stumbles in the plot department. Caught between genre norms, and a desire to not explain everything, 9 feels like a journey with a beautiful, but inexplicable ending. The point of our main characters is realized, but not necessarily fully established, though some insight might appear in the film's final shot.

The main characters are fun, easy to get behind, and we see how they compliment each other rather well. Yet at the same time they suffer heavily from "that would have been useful 5 minutes ago"itis. It can be frustrating for the viewer, and at times fail to live up to the promise of the original short (which I caught just before watching the entire film). Each character is aided by near perfect voice casting from actors with a wide range of talent, and the ability to bring out the most in even the smallest of roles.

At the same time Acker seems quite adapt at making the film a visual feast, even if he can't get the story to wrap up as nicely as we would like. So that, even with all the stories faults I never felt a real annoyance or frustration with it. Like many films of its size I accepted it as building towards a series as opposed to singular stand alone film. While I don't reward this, I don't take a whole lot off for when films try to do this as I understand the reasoning and pressures. Unfortunately it doesn't look like 9 will ever get that follow up (just barely covering it's small budget), perhaps being too mature for children and too animated for adults. Alas, it isn't quite as bad as I feared it would be, and rather hit the expectations right on the head with more promise than offering.

Amazing visuals, action, and a promising story barely manage to make up for weak plot development and overarching ideas.

1 better thoughts:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I had hoped this would be another Corpse Bride...but I guess Coraline was enough for one year.

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