A few weeks ago, movie fans were blessed with the gift that was District 9. First time director Neil Blomkamp (along with producer Peter Jackson)'s dark action packed sci-fi film (which was based off a short film) became a smash hit and is still currently in this weeks top 10 at the box office. And here we are now with a similar flick, 9. This an edgy sci-fi animated film by another first time director, Shane Acker, also with a big time producer, Tim Burton, which is also based on a short film. Both films had a kick ass trailers that blew my mind. So how does 9 stack up to District 9?
I will start by saying that this film is heavily flawed. From the get go, there was an opening scene, reminiscent of Coraline, with someone crafting a small doll. The doll, our main character 9, springs to life after certain events occur and begins to walk. Throughout the whole movie, I just couldn't buy into the idea of these dolls walking around and moving things and seeing some of the contraptions they built. I mean come on! They have no muscles! This something I never thought about in A. The trailer (i think it was the Coheed and Cambria) and B. Toy Story. The film just director didn't do a good job in believing that these inanimate objects were living creatures. And if you can't buy into that, then you don't go along with the rest of the film.
The characters were also very hallow and generic. We have 1, the wise old leader who is afraid of change. 5 who's the giant bumbling badass (that really isn't much of a badass at all) and the cliche love interest (maybe?) who contributes absolutely nothing to the story. We're supposed to get some sense of comradery from the gang of characters we have, but they are so two-dimensional that we never really care what happens to them. This also really screws up the ending which I felt was well directed and had potential for some emotional reaction from the audience.
The dialogue is also flawed. In fact it's god awful. From what I've seen of behind-the-scenes featurettes, the voice actors are almost never in the same room together as they lay down their dialogue. This is made painfully obvious through the dialogue scenes that are in the movie. But at least there aren't many dialogue scenes. The plot is so thin that the director thought that filling the film to the brim with action would make up for it. Almost every time the characters got a chance to relax and progress the story, some giant, menacing robot comes and interrupts! Scene after scene some machine was plowing through scenery and recking havok on our heroes. And when they are on screen, they are loud! This is might be the loudest movie of the year.
After seeing the movie, I talk with a few of my friends to see what they thought and every single one of them said this was the worst movie they ever saw! Now I whole heartedly agree with most of the complaints and agree that this isn't a great movie, but I have yet to see a movie worse than Transformers 2, and I feel they completely failed to acknowledge some of the good things that were in this film. The absolute best thing about the movie was the visual style. In my opinion, it's one of the best looking animated films I've ever seen. The colors worked so well with the tone of the film and whenever they introduced the green auras onto the screen, it was a sight to behold. Even though the biggest problem with the film was the script, I still think Acker did a respectable with what he had. The action scenes were pretty good and I have to commend him on not making another Pixar film. There are no jokes, no slapstick humor, no sappy story. Just dark animated tale. And at a brief 80 minutes, it's at least worth renting.
Maybe next time, Shane