Monday, September 21, 2009


Ensemble movies are one of the basic foundations of film since its inception. In the past 10 years or so, digital movies have become commonplace at the theater as well. Naturally, the combination of the two is a natural leap to make. 9 was not the first movie to do this, however; that would be Toy Story. 9 isn’t even the first of its kind in the digital serious sci-fi arena. The horrible Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within comes to mind, though there might even be one earlier. So 9 is original… how?

That’s not to say the movie was bad; it wasn’t. It just wasn’t all that creative. Post-apocalyptic world… check. Futuristic Matrix-like man vs. machine setup… check. Female character who could kick yours and everyone in the theater’s asses… check. All the elements are in perfectly in place, which may be a good thing or a bad one, depending on how easily satisfied with conventions you are.

The one big thing 9 had going for it was that all the characters were machines made out of burlap and watch gears. That was pretty creative. The look of the movie was spectacular; lush and vivid settings and interesting-looking characters were consistent throughout. It was also a little interesting and different to have all the principles’ names be numbers (there are 9 of them, hence the title). In fact, nobody in the film has an actual name. The story concept was pretty great, too; a scientist’s creations must carry on his last mission after his death. Tried and true, but with a little futuristic twist.

While the visuals were phenomenal, and the story idea had a lot going for it, 9 trips up in the plot and story presentation, especially the dialog. The voice actors are all awesome in real life (the film boasts the talents of Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, Elijah Wood, and Jennifer Connelly), and they lend their awesomeness to the digital screen to a certain degree. However, they don’t have a whole lot to work with. The script is pretty weak, and it relies heavily on action and visual wow to carry the film. Dialog and character interaction are given a backseat, and it’s clear that not a lot of time or energy were put into them.

Slight spoilers here, so watch out. The story idea was great, but some story elements were poorly explained in the film. This goes back to the dialog being very substandard. Also, the concept of the 9 living machines all being parts of the Scientist’s soul was interesting, but not well thought through. Also, the only ones left at the end of the movie are the two kids, a male and a female. The assumption is that they will repopulate the earth (that whole “this world is ours” thing), but… they’re machines. Machines can't copulate. Or if they can, that belongs in a different movie.

I’m glad I saw 9 in the theater, because it was quite the visual spectacle. That alone was almost worth the price of admission (or at least it would have been if NYC theaters weren’t so damn expensive). If you don’t expect too much else from the film, though, you’ll at least get to see some great CGI, if nothing else.

Iconic Lines:

I must have mentioned at least twice that the dialog wasn’t very good, so I got nothin’.

22 Rating: 4

Particle Man


Stormy Pinkness said...

Interesting review PM. I wasn;t too sure what to think of this movie so I really had no expectations when I read your review. Am I correct in assuming that this film is a Tim Burton film? I thought that since he was involved you would love it.

Particle Man said...

Tim Burton was, in fact, a producer of this movie, one of many. i think, though, that his involvement was merely the fact that his company produced it, so his name has to be on all films produced by that studio. that, and they were looking for name recognition; people who might not ordinarily see 9 hear the name Tim Burton and they take a second look at it. but then you have people like myself, who didn't even know Tim Burton was involved with it at all 'til i checked it out IMDb five minutes ago, but saw it anyway. go figure.

Dr. Worm said...

I'm saddened. This looked like it would be pretty good. But I guess I shouldn't have expected much from a September release ...

PM, how much do you think expectations played a role in your reaction? Your opening paragraphs make it seem as though you were expecting something startlingly original (which, to be fair, the film markets itself as), and just didn't get it.

In other words, if I watch it now with my expectations appropriately lowered, will that help? Or am I grasping for straws here?

Particle Man said...

you're right, DW, i did enter the theater with a certain amount of excitement, and came out disappointed. but i think if you go into this movie expecting to be wowed visually but not to have your intellect engaged very much, you'll probably enjoy it quite a bit. it still gets a positive rating from me, which means, if nothing else, that it's worth seeing. like i said, it has some things going for it.

Mike said...

This looked ok, but not like anything I haven't quite seen before. More stuff contributing to the summer of Meh.