PLOT: 9 awakens. This child of science is merely a sack that somehow has found a life inside his man made body. And when he wakes, he finds a world of destruction and fear. It is a world where machines have ruled over and destroyed man. As he makes his way out into the dark and scary city, he finds that there are others like him. But there are others that are not at all like him too. They are metallic beasts, one of which takes a friendly scientist he has met. 9 attempts to save him after some of the other survivors refuse, but in his effort, he wakes a monster far more dangerous than the one who took his friend. It is up to 9 and the other little creatures that discovered him to fight and destroy the very monster he brought out of its slumber.
9. The title alone is mysterious and could truly be about anything. What is the meaning of the single digit number? What kind of story does it tell? Quite simply, it is about the end of the world, and how a small band of one mans creation must try and save each other from a monstrous, mechanical beast. A spider like entity of metal and claw that has been awakened. One of these creations, 9 (Elijah Wood), remains at the center as his very own innocence brought the beast to its current state. Yet it was simply his own curiosity as to the magic that may happen when a round device is placed into its conforming socket. While he is responsible, it seems he just may be the only one that can stop it. At least amongst this group of small creatures he has joined, those that are made of a small bag that can be opened and closed by a zipper. These odd little things are alone in a world filled with destruction and metallic horrors. And yes, this world is terribly horrific. There is a reason that 9 is rated PG-13.
This is a civilization that has finally died. It was a war between man and machine and the machines won. In a way, this is the film that TERMINATOR: SALVATION wanted to be but failed. 9 is scary and directed with tension and a eerie look into a grim future thanks to Shane Acker. Based on his Academy Award-nominated 2004 short film, he has successfully created a society that has wasted away, with only these oddities created by a scientist determined to give hope to a hopeless future. He gives his work a spark of life in hopes that they will somehow bring humanity back after the destruction. And it certainly is a dark view of what may become. The vision contains remnants of early Tool videos including Sober and Prison Sex, yet it finds depth to what would otherwise be a knapsack with a zipper down the middle. It is easy to see what both Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov saw in this apocalyptic story.
The talent behind the characters also works quite well. Along with Elijah Wood, we have Jennifer Connelly as #7, Crispin Glover as #6, John C. Reilly as #5, Christopher Plummer as #1 and Martin Landau as #2. I especially appreciated Mr. Reilly as the skittish fellow that has been bullied by #1 to do exactly what he says. After all, these creatures have found a safe place, so it is clear that this #9 is going to cause trouble for them, at least that is #1s thought. And he is actually correct, but in risking their safety, he may be able to help rid the world of the beasts that roam and threaten their very soul. The script by Pamela Pettler is one that avoids the typical pitfalls of some family fare. 9 is an innocent in this world filled with death, but that innocent is at times harmful. Although, I question whether this is truly family fare. This a terribly hellish vision and it is definitely not for all young ones. The bad guys are nightmare inducing and the prospect of hope is pretty dire.
But if the young ones are a little more mature, and can handle a few scares and a heavy storyline, this is a truly inspired fable. But as inspired as it was, there are a few moments that rely too much on the hypnotic imagery and sometimes drag themselves out. And even though I appreciated the quirks of #9 causing trouble, I am guessing more than a few folks watching the events unfold will get a little annoyed at the little sack. You know what they say, curiosity killed the cat. But this is a rich fantasy that is really refreshing in a world where sequels and remakes are constantly consumed every box office weekend. The voices are well cast, and director Shane Acker has the vision to make it a dark and fascinating journey. 9 has borrowed moments here and there, but it is told in a refreshingly unique way. There is beauty and hope deep inside the nightmare, and you will certainly be moved by 9s adventures. RATING: 8/10 -- JimmyO
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