9 (2009) Review:

I can’t think of anything funny to say, I mean, I tried nine times.

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Ugh. I’m sorry for making your screen so ugly.

9 is a CGI animated feature film by Shane Acker – his feature film directorial debut nonetheless – starring Elijah Wood as the titular #9. It is a film set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the human race has been wiped out by an army of robots. As the human race was being exterminated a scientist (the scientist who created the thinking robot that got into the hands of an evil dictator) created nine small robots dressed in sack-cloth who would destroy the (unintentionally) evil thinking robot that created the army of robots that wiped out humanity.

Each of these small – human like – robots created by the scientist are simply named 1 through 9. 9 is the last one to be created and when he finds the rest of the group they do not take kindly to him as he Is pretty much a stranger. When 9 comes into the picture there is only one enemy machine left alive – some kind of cat-like thing – which is dealt with fairly swiftly and easily. However, 9 has some kind of talisman and places it into a socket, waking up the B.R.A.I.N – the thinking machine the scientist created – and all hell breaks loose.

This may sound like a fairly interesting narrative for a CGI film, but no, the way the film is executed is really quite bad. First things first, when the narrative really gets into its swing, it just kind of happens. It’s a dark narrative for a CGI film also, so it comes off as jarring by way of being serious, but not serious enough for anyone over the age of twelve to enjoy it to any considerable level. The premise of the film is much more interesting than the film itself.

Pushing the narrative along are the characters, and you’ll find all the stereotypes here. 9 is the bland all-round hero who somehow takes control of the group. 1 is the old leader who’s stuck In his ways and comes across as a bit of a jerk, and the rest are the nutter, the strong man, the ninja, the coward, the old guy and the clever ones. The interaction between all of these characters limps throughout the whole film with help from a very mediocre script that favours action over emotion for the large part. But here’s the kicker – the action is not exciting and when there is emotion it is plainly obvious as to what is going to happen.

However, the film does surprise in a couple of areas. There are deaths, a few, and the surprisingly dark story. As said earlier though, these details just seem jarring to those older than twelve (most definitely the target audience), who would probably enjoy the film.

I imagine you’re thinking then, that with a lacklustre narrative and poor character interaction the film at least employs a decent visual flair; well, you would be wrong if you were thinking this. There are some neat looking backdrops and a fairly good eye for detail, but the film does look like an Xbox 360 game; it just looks bad. I would say that perhaps it has not aged well, but for a film made in 2009 (the same year as Up), the visuals could have (see: should have) been a lot better.

Even the voice acting and score do not liven this mess up. The actors sound like they don’t really want to be there, and are just in it for the money, as every line is delivered in the same monotone. The score is just forgettable and does not stand out at all – not necessarily bad, just forgettable.

Summary:

9 is a film whose premise is much more interesting than the finished product. It is not a long film, but it certainly feels like it through its ugly visuals, poor narrative and dull voice-work. However, younger boys should find the film enjoyable enough, just hope that you are not there watching it with them.

Nothing more than ugly wasted potential.

30/100.

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