Tuesday, 8 December 2009
FILM REVIEW: 9
Opening in a post apocalyptic world not unlike that glimpsed earlier this year in Terminator Salvation, but with all human life seemingly eradicated by the machines (it's always those damn machines: when will people learn?!), 9 marks itself as an animated feature not for the kiddies, certainly not those already weighed down with anxiety issues about the state of the world.
Given that the producers of Shane Acker's debut feature, expanded from his award-winning short, are Tim Burton, one never afraid to dabble in the darker edges, and Timur Bekmambetov, director of the stylish and violent Day Watch, Night Watch and last year's Wanted, one could hardly have been expecting a Pixar-like take on the future a la WALL-E.
What they could have hoped for was a more involving story, one that didn't feel long at 85 minutes. That's not to say that the film doesn't look great, it does: the visuals are impressive. But this tale of a group of living rag dolls surviving in the rubble until 9 (all of the dolls are assigned numbers in order of their creation) joins them and encourages them to rage against the machines, offers audiences very little in the way of humour or any kind of respite from the doom and gloom, until about the 80 minute mark.
The voice cast (Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly and Elijah Wood as the eponymous 9), impressive in terms of acting pedigree, add little vocally. But if it's animated style over substance you're looking for, or merely the antithesis of the optimism of Ponyo and Up, then 9 could be for you.