Monday, December 28, 2009

9 - Movie Review

By Purple

There's something about numerology and the power of superstition and numbers that stirs the general population that high powered marketing machines like to latch onto and pump everything it can to make sure everyone remembers how important the current magic number is. So last week, on the eve of the calendar date 9, 9, 09 the new movie "9" was previewed to audiences at exactly 9:09pm. Carrying it further the movie's star voice talent was led by Elijah Wood, who is also most famous for leading the fellowship of nine and bears a tattoo of the number 9 from his run as Frodo in the "Lord of the Rings". The trouble with this kind of marketing campaign is that soon enough it is next week and as the earth still stands and without any outward signs that the cosmic alignment resulted anything more than the next day arriving as planned, we're left to consider the material the hype left behind.

By all rights and measures "9" should be my kind of film. Its computer animated, Tim Burton is a producer, and it features retro looking soviet versions of H.G. Wells tripod war machines. And at first glance, there are plenty of nice things to say about the film "9". It's beautiful. It's gorgeously rendered; it has an all-star voice cast, and is an inspiration to independent filmmakers everywhere. But as it feels like it runs long even with its short running time of 79 minutes, you find yourself asking midway through - sure it looks great, but do I really care about these burlap bag people?

Again, it's not to say that "9" isn't entertaining, the visual quality is matched by the top draw voice talent that includes mainstream hitters like Martin Landau and Jennifer Connelly to comic actors like John C. Reilly and cult celebrity Crispin Glover who all give their best playing the various numbers in the burlap bag people clan. But unless you're in a sequel to "Eight Legged Freaks", you know your science fiction fantasy movie is on shaky ground when your main villain is a giant mechanical spider. It just rarely works and speaks to cliche ridden laziness on the side of the storytellers.

And as the true nature of the story reveals itself, it becomes apparent that all of the events that lead up to the end of the world and its final conflict between the machines and the burlap bag people are centered on a lone misunderstood scientist type who is the source of it all. This isolated genius theme doesn't leave much room for any other humans and may be why I find it so hard to care about the characters in "9". But it clearly strikes a chord for Shane Acker who spent four years creating the original short film "9" entirely on his own in his basement. The short animated piece, which can be found on YouTube, is cool to watch and has tremendous production values and it's easy to see how Acker's talent caught Tim Burton's eye. Despite the shortcomings in story, Acker's accomplishments of getting his short film made into a feature film, like Neil Blomkamp did earlier this summer with another 'nine' movie "District 9", is an inspiration for indie movie makers everywhere.

Thinking maybe I'll give this "9" a second chance when it comes out on DVD later, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.

© 2009 - Purple - Air Date: 09/16/09
Movie Magazine International

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