The Full List of Big Thoughts From A Small Mind's 2009 Reviews.
There is nothing harder on a movie lover than watching a film that practically screams “potential to be great” slowly falter into banality with each passing minute. Such is the case with director Shane Acker’s feature length debut 9.
One day #9 (Elijah Wood) wakes up to find himself in a post-apocalyptic world. Void of all humans, the world now belongs to fearsome machines that canvas the earth destroying everything in their path. Through his travels #9 comes across a small community of numeric clad beings like himself. Led by #1 (Christopher Plummer), the group moves from one hiding spot to another in order to maintain their survival. Tension arises when #9 joins the commune and starts to question how the world reached its current state. When #2 (Martin Landau) is captured by one of the machines #9 and # 5 (John C. Reilly), against # 1’s wishes, sets out in hopes of finding their friend and unlocking the mystery of their existence.
At times, visually speaking, 9 is a stunning work filled with many inventive character designs. The ramshackle world that the creatures and robotic monsters roam in allows Acker to create some thrilling action sequences. Unfortunately the overall story does not have the depth needed for a film this ambitious. A film such as this really needs to have a compelling story to match the visuals. The pacing of this picture is painfully slow which, as a result, causes several major plot points to take too long to unfold. While all the gaps are eventually filled, most of which you see coming from a mile away, it requires a lot of effort on the viewers part to stay awake long enough to see the whole thing through.
Another issue I had with 9 is that for all the visual flair, and great ensemble voice casting, the majority of characters are surprisingly one-dimensional. Since there is no real depth to any of the characters, many of the same scenes are repeated over and over in different settings. There are only so many times that you can sit thorough #1’s old cowardly lion routine before you want to smack somebody. The same can be said for #7's (Jennifer Connelly) numerous “jumping into battle by herself” sequences. While I am all in favour of strong female action heroes, Acker never really develops #7’s character any further than what we see on the surface. While 9 is extremely fascinating on a visual level, it lacks the substance needed to truly make it a beautiful picture.