I hadn’t really planned on seeing the movie 9 on 9.9.09, but it just so happened that I was having coffee near the theater, and I finished talking with my friends right on time for the movie. I knew I wanted to see it sooner or later, so I went ahead and took myself to the show. For the most part I think it’s fun entertainment. Shane Acker’s animation is terrific, and those strange little doll-like characters, numbers 1 through 9, with their tiny zippered bodies and vulnerable personalities, are oddly adorable, a bit like big-eyed Muppets. If you can forget all about the cliché-ridden, even senseless story at times, you might enjoy the spectacle of it. But honestly, it’s hard to forget about the cliché-ridden, senseless story. Once again humans have been destroyed by their machines. Once again science has turned against us. Once again only a few living things remain to save…well…to save what? There actually aren’t anymore people left, and those little dolls can’t procreate, so what’s the point? And how is it that these little foot-long hotdogs manage to destroy the evil machine-monsters when billions of humans couldn’t swing it? Maybe we just weren’t small enough? It makes me wonder how involved the normally inventive Tim Burton was in this project. I’m guessin’ not very. Ah, well. Switch off your brain and enjoy the show. I rate this film and upside down 9: Mildly recommended.
If you want to see a much better 9, try District 9 (D-9). Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, this is a fine science fiction film. Well, it starts out as a science fiction film, then it morphs into a socio-political statement, and then there’s more than a wee bit of fantasy and horror mixed in. Anyway you slice it, the movie puts an interesting spin on the age-old science fiction theme of first contact. How would we really react if a gigantic space ship stalled in the sky over Johannesburg? Neill actually gives this question some serious play in the movie. There may be some familiar tropes here — the prawn-like aliens; the evil, giant corporation doing dirty deeds; the one guy somehow overcoming an army of military nasties trying to kill him — but the documentary-style storytelling feels fresh, although reminiscent of Cloverfield, (reviewed previously). Sharlto Copley’s performance as the bumbling Multi-National United employee named Wikus is nothing short of brilliant. D-9 is fast-paced and suspenseful: a little splatter-punk, a touch of poli-sci commentary, some scary alien stuff, and a pinch of allegory for good measure (remember apartheid?). And it all kinda works. I rate this film an upright 9: Highly recommended.
Of further interest…
Cloverfield 2 is on the way!