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Fred Can't Get Into 9

Published September 8, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Focus Features
9 Poster9
I’m usually really into post-apocalyptic survival movies, but I just couldn’t get into 9. In its defense, I might have just been too exhausted to see movies that week. I also hated Inglourious Basterds which by all accounts I should have liked.

9 Review

9 starts off well with silent exploring, revealing the world and the characters. Perhaps it’s just when they started talking that I had a problem.

It is a harsh, deadly world. There are beasts that just swipe those little stitch people up, and dangerous terrain like wind that could displace them or crush them, and even floorboards that break under their steps.

There’s tons of action but that’s when I really realized I didn’t care. It’s just some stitch dolls fighting machines. Partly, their moves are so generic by action movie standards, it’s just like they copied a fight scene from another mediocre movie.

The environment, which usually fascinates me in a post-apocalyptic world, just feels contrived for action here. There are moving parts that get activated when the characters are nearby, so they have something to escape from. I’m normally cool with that too, but I felt no reason to justify it here. Leftover machines inform some of the battle, but there’s no sense that this is a world that exists outside the plot.

The dialogue is really basic, simple, childlike even. I kind of want more when you’re dealing with these themes. The world ended. We’re gone. These stitch creatures were animated to carry on life. All they do is talk about what’s going on. They have no life outside the plot. True, their whole existence is based on continuing to survive, but what do they do when they survive? What are they interested in? If the elder is so concerned with keeping everyone inside, what does he want them to live for in there? If 9 is so bent on exploring, what does he hope to find? It doesn’t seem like he’d be any happier either way.

It is really hard to connect with these things. They’re so different, they’re hardly even anthropomorphic. They have arms and legs and heads, but they still feel like yarn balls fighting. WALL-E was a box, but he was a box you could have a beer with.

I’ve seen “Over the Rainbow” used ironically before too. Wasn’t that the song playing during the shootout in Face/Off? So I get it. The events on the screen aren’t as peaceful and dreamy as the song suggests.

The animation is kind of beautiful. I would think it’s stop motion if it weren’t for CGI humans that pop up. But it’s not that much to look out. We can see the burnt out earth in WALL-E on Blu Ray or hand crafted stitchwork in Nightmare Before Christmas, also on Blu Ray.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Focus Features

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