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Movie Review: Steve Acker’s 9

September 11, 2009
By
‘Cause once is never enough

ShaneAcker-9poster-770058By Renee

The latest animated film to get Tim Burton’s stamp of approval hit theatres this week, and while visually wonderful, 9 ultimately proved disappointing.  Steampunk lovers are sure to get a thrill with the film’s depiction of a post-apocalyptic world where machinery runs amuck. The creep-tastic feature was directed by Shane Acker and produced by Tim Burton, yes only produced, despite what the trailers would have us believe.

Based on the 2004 short film of the same name, Acker seems to have bitten off more than he could chew when turning his 11-minute short into a feature length film. The story is as old as time, small stitched-together being, created by a brilliant scientist, comes to life to find the human race destroyed and must prevail against an evil machine.  Although the bit about small stitched together creatures is new-ish, 9 peddles the same vague warnings of the dangers of technology and mankind’s self-destructive tendencies as countless other films.

Is anyone else getting sick of the same “machines are going to rise up against us” underlying plot?  I mean, we get it; we’ve lived through both The Terminator and The Matrix franchises.  All this movie needed was an animated Sarah Connor doing chin-ups on her hospital bed with Neo flying through the air to make it really cliché.

Instead of a mysterious world with questions left unanswered, as in the original short, we were spoon fed a weak plot that contained too much predictable back-story.   The characters ended up feeling one-dimensional (1= Old leader who knows secrets and rules through fear and intimidation. 7= Rebellious and disillusioned warrior lady who captures the attention of the male protagonist. Etc. etc.) and the storyline seemed tacked together. 9 left me with the impression that Acker and screenwriter Pamela Pettler, in a frenzied scramble to hash out a script, randomly picked out plot elements and then never quite brought it all home.

While the expanded upon story left me feeling lukewarm, the visuals in the feature length version blew me away.  Don’t get me wrong, the original short was great visually, but obviously a first draft when compared to the new graphics.  The monster/machine hybrids were especially amazing, (that baby doll/cobra creation creeped the hell out of me!) as was the attention to detail in the overall look of every character.  If only the same level of care and talent had been put into the script.  Perhaps next time, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of Mr. Acker’s imagination at work.

Frothygirlz Rating: 5/10

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