I fell in love with 9 the moment I saw its previews.
"Burton's grotesquely beautiful visuals?" I thought. "A postapocalyptic, cyberpunk tale peppered with what appears to be Jewish mythology?" I thought. "How awesome is THAT?" I thought.
Not only did I think wrong, but I read waaaay too much into the symbolism on this one.
Tim Burton produced it, but the film is the brainchild of Shane Acker. Created by. Directed by. Written by. (Actually, he did the story, but he got "help" on the writing from Pamela Pettler and Ben Gluck, just so we're perfectly clear when we place blame.)
Here's the plot: humans make robots, robots eat world, dying scientist sews cute little dolls ("stitchpunks"). Scary, post-apocalyptic, skeletal-robots eat a few stitchpunk souls, remaining stitchpunks fight bravely, barfed-up stitchpunk souls become catalyst for life to return to world.
Now, time for some questions and answers!
Q. What about the jewish symbolism? I didn't really see that it related to the story at all.
A. What about nothin, kid. Take a hike.
Q. No, seriously. Wee little burlap golems? WWII-esque imagery complete with a Fuhrer-like bad guy? Numbers of judeo-christian mythological significance?
A. Burlap what-ems? Put down the crack pipe, honey.
Q. "6" was made from the same pattern of fabric they used for prisoner uniforms in WWII concentration camps!!
A. Nope. You're imagining shit. Quit pestering me or I'll call the cops.
Q. Well. Okay. But at the end, why was...
A. I'm dialing. Nine...
Q. Yeah, about him, why did it take him so much longer to wake up than the rest of the stitchpunks? And if the theme was that the disparate elements of one's self and of humanity in general must work together if we hope to save the world, why were there so many instances of: "tell authority figures to gtfo"? And did I really hear stitchpunk 9 accuse stitchpunk 1 of sending stitchpunk 2 out to die because it was ...too old? As opposed to stitchpunks 1, 3 and 4 who are ... not old?
A. ...one...one... Hey operator, some soccer mommy is going all Trek-geek on me. Send over a taser unit and a restraining order, stat.
Okay, so here's the deal. Plot holes can be fun. But even if you pour yourself a double-shot of "suspension of disbelief" and do a few gullible-jello shooters, this movie has problems. 1) The cool, unique parts of the story? Shoved aside to allow heaping moments of screen-time for the most trite and over-abused story elements. 2) The dialogue was apparently ghost-written by a first-grader who has only recently heard the phrase, "you're not the boss of me" and is rocked by the concept. 3) The themes and metaphors are vague and contradictory, as though the only thing the writers knew for sure about the story was that it should be about burlap dolls fighting monsters. ...and stuff.
If you think you'll get a visual contact-high from staring at the art, go see 9 in the theater. I don't regret spending the money on the ticket. I just regret not coughing up an extra $0.79 for a set of ear plugs to go with it.
"Well, poo," you're saying. "Maybe someone will make a version of 9 that keeps the things it did well, but doesn't have any of the crappy elements."
Sorry to get caps-lock at you, but check this out! The 2009 feature film that Acker wrote/directed/debacled is based on a 2005 short film by the same name, by the same dude. But in his original short film, Acker did not try to get too clever with his plot! The characters were developed with a decent degree of sensitivity and thrift! (No stitchpunks dressed gratuitously like holocaust victims drawing clues that aren't actually needed to resolve plot elements the tale is better without.) The action sequences are smarter and more suspenseful. The monster is scarier. The end is better. And best of all, THERE IS NO DIALOGUE.
Here, enjoy:9(2005) Then sit back and wonder what went wrong when Acker took it to the big screen.
Verdict: The 2005 short film is good. The 2009 feature film is named appropriately if "1" is good and "10" is the result of an infinite number of monkeys selecting plot elements from Hanna Montana reruns. (But with monsters and Hitler. ...and stuff.)