9 (2009)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 9/20/09
Producer: Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov
Director: Shane Acker
Music: Deborah Lurie, Danny Elfman
Cast: Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Connelly, Martin Landau, John C Reilly

A bleak and somber post apocalyptic film featuring a band of small, um, mechanical sack people whose existence is threatened by a group of killer robots. At some point during Man's relentless pursuit of technology, the machines decided to rise up and wage war against their human creators which resulted in complete mutual destruction and a planet devoid of life. Well, mostly. A group of nine strange mechanical sack people survived the war, as well as some killer robots that hunt the sack people like mice. The sack people are denoted by numbers on their backs, and the film focuses on the story of number 9 (Elijah Wood), whose rebellious and inquisitive nature somehow holds the key to their salvation. While trying to save 2, 9 accidentally awakens a doomsday machine from the war and it becomes a desperate race to survive and defeat the mechanical beast. Through teamwork and perseverance, they finally prevail, but at what cost?

"9" is a surprisingly dark and dreary film, and its desolate landscape of destruction is eerie and haunting. The excellent music score evokes feelings of loss and sorrow, which nicely compliments the atmosphere of the film. The computer animation is quite good, and the lighting and textures are appropriately gritty and moody. The voice acting is very good and the cast is wonderful, but the film suffers from some of the most gratuitously overdone Foley work I've ever heard. The action scenes are quite exciting, and comprise the majority of the film. While the film explores some interesting social and psychological themes, the story is surprisingly bland and exceedingly simplistic. It's basically just good guys vs. bad guys with lots of stuff blowing up, and while I'm certainly not opposed to that, it was difficult for me to relate to the characters or even like them. Except for 7 (Jennifer Connelly). She is AWESOME. In addition to being the sole female personality in the group, she's also the only one who can fight (which she does brilliantly). If I were smarter, I'd be able to equate each character to a particular part of the human psyche, which I'm sure is what the creators had in mind. But I'm not nearly clever enough to analyze the film on that level, and I don't know if it would benefit as a result. Even though the film made me cry, I didn't feel that it was particularly deep, thought provoking, or memorable. While the eye candy is satisfying, the experience is ultimately as empty as the world that the film portrays.