9: I Bemoan the Impossible

15 06 2010

Finally saw 9, the feature film based on Shane Acker’s animated short, released last year. I really enjoyed it. It’s a strange and sad movie, and it couldn’t have been an easy sell for the studios who equate animation with kids’ movies. So I’m glad they were able to bring it off and essentially stay true to the vision of the short film.

Still, I can’t help feeling some disappointment. 9 presents a profoundly dismal scenario; the human race has extinguished itself, the world is buried in rubble, and the only creatures left are homonculi made of junk. This should be a crushing psychological wasteland on par with Blade Runner, but it’s so well disguised as Pixar by way of Tim Burton that it’s hard to feel the dread. I wish they could have gone completely art film. But who would have funded that?

Also disappointing–and this is just me dredging up old and thoroughly outdated expertise from my Dynamix days–was the surfacing of the sackcloth characters. It looks like a digital bitmap, the rough weave getting finer with smooth precision in places that don’t make physical sense. I would have loved to see this movie as a stop-motion feature rather than CGI. Because the materials are such a huge part of the characterization, this would have been a perfect vehicle for actual fabric, metal and wood puppets. But that would have meant a less mainstream look, and less of the magic flying cameras you get with CGI, and we’re back to the art film funding problem.

That’s okay. My unreasonable dreams of an open-minded Hollywood aside, 9 is a solid and different little film.

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One response

15 06 2010
Daniel

I rather liked it… There is definitely something to be said for the soundtrack 🙂

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