"9": DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2010)

1/02/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review


Directed by Shane Acker, written by Pamela Pettler, 81 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

Ever since its captivating and beautifully rendered trailer first hit theaters and the Internet earlier last year, Shane Acker’s “9” became one of the among the top films to see in 2009.  

Given that the movie is based on Acker’s Academy Award-nominated 11-minute short, which you can watch on YouTube by searching for “9 short movie,” everything about the trailer spoke to something fresh and exciting, only broadened to a full-length feature film.

For those who have seen the short, the questions were obvious. What would the additional 70 minutes offer? How would Acker and writer Pamela Pettler improve upon a story whose strength is in how much it holds back? The fact that Tim Burton was attached to the movie as one of its producers was another cause of interest. What would he bring to the table?

Since all of these questions generated a sense of excitement, it’s disappointing to report again, now that the movie is available on DVD and Blu-ray disc, that while it's terrific to look at and rousing in parts, it isn't the movie it could have been.

There is plenty to admire here, most of it visual--all of it of the postapocalyptic variety. Massive landscapes are created with impressive detail, as are nine doll-like creatures composed of various parts who have been infused with the soul of their creator and must make their way through a ruined world determined to undo them.

As the advertising slogan notes: “In the final days of humanity, a scientist gave his nine creations the spark of life. It’s up to them to protect the future.”

Against what? In this case, an evil onslaught of machines who turned against the world, destroyed it, and who are designed to capture and literally suck the souls from the nine little ones in question. Before 9 (voice of Elija Wood) joins the eight others (voiced by Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Connelly, Martin Landau, Crispin Clover, John C. Reilly and others), the M.O. was to hide. But 9 is feistier than that, and his charge to the group is to stand up to the machines, fight back and fight hard.

As such, battles ensue, all of which are so impressively mounted, the movie’s potential for mining emotional heft is diminished in the face of them. And that’s the real problem with “9.” The action doesn’t stop, true, but your heart isn’t beating at a break-neck pace because of it. The movie is too short on story, which doesn’t help. You pull for the nine characters whose lives are at stake because, frankly, it’s a classic case of the little guy against the big guy.

Throughout the movie, you never really come to know these oddities. They are intriguing enigmas with wide eyes and cute faces (for the most part)--but little more. We know they were gifted with a “spark of life” from a human, but they themselves are not human. And so what are we to make of them? If humanity as we know it no longer exists, how will they protect the future--and for who? Themselves?

It’s not enough.

Grade: C+

View the trailer for "9" here:

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