Sometimes when I do these Screening Suggestions, the review will be on a movie I haven't seen yet, but has been highly recommended to me. In these cases, my readers can take the "suggestion" to come from my peers rather than me, but I won't post unless it's something I'm fairly certain I'll agree about. The point of Screening Suggestions is to suggest titles one might enjoy, while at the same time being sure it's something I'd recommend based on my own tastes.
In the case of '9', it seems people understand what it is I look for in movies. I went into it fairly blind, but all in all really liked it by the end. This one is fueled by the wondrous imagination of director Shane Acker, whose short film of the same name was nominated for an Oscar in 2005. This is essentially the "full version" of what he was going for, assisted by screenwriter Pamela Pettler, best known for movies like 'The Corpse Bride', 'Monster House' and the more recent animated 'Addams Family'. Together, they make a pretty good team. Even though this was pretty well met in the middle, as far as critics were concerned, it's just otherworldly and interesting enough of an idea that it didn't take much to rope me in.
We start things off with a brief monologue about how "life must go on", and are soon introduced to 9 (Elijah Wood); a sort of mechanical sack doll, brought to life through a scientist (Alan Oppenheimer). It turns out the scientist has made 8 others as well, making up a pretty star-studded cast; the frail but friendly 2 (Martin Landau); the cycloptic engineer, 5 (John C. Reilly); the mentally unstable oracle, 6 (Crispin Glover); the stubborn leader, 1 (Christopher Plummer); two scholarly but silent twins, 3 and 4; and the somewhat mysterious and rebellious female, 7 (Jennifer Connelly). To make a long story short, the general plot has to do with their survival against machines that have wiped out mankind. While most wish to hide, 9's idea is to go on the offensive.
There's a pretty deep setup to the film that is revealed more than half-way through, giving an explanation as to these sac people's existence. Things end up being a bit of a stretch, considering it's an alternative version of the 1930s and could just be "near future" for its general purposes. In the end, the message is essentially the idea that in the wrong hands, technology can be disastrous to mankind. In many ways, it's reminiscent of 'WALL-E', but this time around there's use of alchemy and magic, and it takes place in a war-torn past rather than the distant future. It's an interesting fantasy, and a sort of "what if" story, but you certainly need a fair share of imagination to get yourself through it.
One thing I really liked about this one was just in how dark things tended to get. They've got such concepts in here as soul-sucking, death, what might lie beyond death, and I have to admit that it really earns its PG-13 rating. It's a decent title for anyone looking for a fun, animated adventure that has a sense of edginess and even a certain darkness to it. It's not at all long, so it's a very easy watch, and its atmosphere really brings you into its post-apocalyptic world - you're very much on this adventure with these sac people (or "Stitchpunks" as they have become otherwise known), and it does tug on every little emotion, even if only for a second.
While the film isn't entirely what I'd call a masterpiece, it's very well done for what it is, gets its message across quite plainly, and even if you don't like this, there's always the Oscar-nominated short. Speaking for myself, the main draws lie in the all-star cast, the atmosphere and the overall adventure. Although It's perhaps something darker and edgier, complete with a scary scene or two, it's still something the whole family can watch and enjoy. Opinions will vary, but I for one loved it, and I can see it as something I may keep coming back to in the near future if I really need an escape. If you want to be transported to another world, it's a good place to look.
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