9 (2009) 4/1000

9 (2009)

Rated PG-13

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure

Directed by Shane Acker

Starring Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, and Crispin Glover

Plot: A rag doll that awakens in a postapocalyptic future holds the key to humanity’s salvation.

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The opening seems very Edward Scissorhands as we see the creation of the ragdoll with somewhat mystical and mechanical components. The animation feels very smooth and expressive. The lack of dialogue from his awakening feels perfect, like the world is destitute. His first view of the world confirms this and we are given an explanation to his silence: he lacks a voice box. With the current political climate in America, this movie feels more terrifying than it probably would had I watched it a year ago. The “Revolt!” posters alone send chills up the spine.

We are finally introduced to another ragdoll like 9 who seem elderly and kind. My first question is why he has the bullet if he recognizes its danger. The attack by the feline bone-machine type creature is very gripping all the way until the resolution of the scene with the creature bounding away and 2’s unique hat shattering to the ground as he glances back at 9. It is a swift reminder that this is not the family feature that most animated films lend themselves toward (not most families at least). And that is furthered by the flashback to the rather intense war sequence where the ragdolls are hiding and dodging guns, boots and bullets as a battle rages around them, ended by a toxic gas killing everything.

That brings us to the present of the story, the remaining ragdolls surviving by hiding and taking absolutely no risks, which means not risking the mission to rescue 2 even though 9 saw that he was still alive as he was being taken away. 9 convinces 5 to help him and again I am reminded of the current American political climate. All of this can be used as a metaphor in my head, especially with what is happening with the democratic party. 5’s need for order and control causes him to lose control and run into the dangerous path before them. It is rather funny that Elijah is the voice of 9, as this duo reminds me much of Frodo and Sam, though it has yet to become fully clear in my mind which is which.

The entire trip feels like it is sped up, but not in a hurried way. More as a way to show you that even though the perils are great, the distance is not as far as it may seem. They quickly find 2 and proceed to fight the creature holding him captive before the mysterious 7 comes to the rescue, slaying the beast and saving the day. Before anyone can stop him, 9 places the mysterious relic in the mechanism, releasing an energy ray that fries 2 and makes a large GLADOS type villain come to life. Things do not look good for our tiny heroes at this point. I can see easily why it was listed as ages 13 and up under the ratings guides. The more conservative parents would not enjoy their snowflakes being subject to such violence.

The newly activated machine immediately begins to build, ominous music accompanying this scene. The backstory we receive immediately follow that scene shows us what all there truly is to fear from this invention. The explanation by 9 leads me to believe that I have figured out by which means the machine will be defeated, but lets see where the plot takes us.

The ambush by the birdlike machine in the ragdoll sanctuary was a tad jarring for me, just because I have a deeply ingrained phobia of birds. It was beautifully choreographed and animated, the storyboards must have had this impeccably planned as each shot streams together seamlessly. The way that 9 got 2 to trust him will go very much unrewarded is my reading of 2’s character is correct. Bringing the head of the bird back to its creator seemed almost biblical in application.

The goon of a ragdoll getting high is quite the concept and goes far to explain his simpleton behavior when all the rest seem to be so advanced. You also a a huge read into 9, 7, and 1 as the true reason for 2’s capture was revealed. Then a quick flash back to the goon as he is seemingly hypnotized by an unknown force. As 1 ventures out alone, we see that it is 2, behaving much as a zombie himself with a snakelike tail. The creature introduced next is one that is near impossible to describe… the creative of look and concept alone leave me speechless, but the added animation and the application of the ideas make for a horrifying new addition to my nightmares. For the sake of ease until a name is given to it by the film, I shall dub this creature hypno-mantis-cobra (HMC)

The aftermath of the HMC leaves them all intact and with a body to reclaim and bury. They have a short-lived moment of unity (1 watched from the background) as they lay 2 to rest before continuing on to the path to find where 9 woke up and found the relic that began this entire issue. As they enter the chamber where the machine resides, they learn of its evil plan. the goon is used as demonstration as the machine sucks the life force from him and absorbs it into itself.  Even with an alarm being sound, it seems like the plan is going pretty well. The factory explodes, the ragdolls are safe. Though I am not sure I agree with 5 when he says “It’s done.” Somehow it does not feel done, especially with 1 still seeming to control the fate of the group as quasi-leader. Everything is so happy, records are playing, but as 5 looks toward the wreckage and sees spidery legs crawling, we are given a movie go to that was beautifully done.

5 bravely called the alarm but not soon enough to safe himself from being consumed by the machine. 6 discovers the truth and tried to relay to 9 the mission to find the first room still, that there is hope still. Ans again I feel like I have this movie pegged, but there is still time to be proven wrong. Back at the first room, 9 runs immediately to the papers scattering the floor of their creators lab, finding a hologram box under his creators hand addressed to him regarding the machine he had awoken. We find out that each of the ragdolls are pieces of the creators soul, broken off to become one with the machine to govern its actions for the preservation and betterment of humanity.

Invigorated with new purpose, 9 rushes back to his new friends to try to explain what they must do and stop them from killing the machine. They are firing on him and 1, as usual, refuses to listen to reason. That is until he sees that 9 is willing to sacrifice himself. At that moment he pushed 9 out of the way, allowing for 9 to take out the relic that began this all. He sets up his pyre of respect and pressed the correct sequence on the relic to release his “fallen” comrades in a holographic type medium. They take their places around the pyre and then float away to the heavens, causing rain to fall and wash away the destruction. The camera zooms in on the water drops and we see tiny bacteria inside each drop of water.

This movie was much deeper than I anticipated, but it was pretty good. rather predictable, but that does not necesarily mean bad. It was fun film and I give it 3.5/5 and would recommend to the right person, not blindly.

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