There’s something about Tim Burton that just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know why, but for some reason seeing his name associated with a movie seldom acts as a hook for my interest. Maybe it’s just that I don’t buy his whole “I’m a scruffy, emo, artistic, weirdo” vibe… or maybe I just don’t like scruffy, emo, artistic, weirdos. Whatever the case, I’m sad to say that it was his name, and his name alone, which caused me to file the movie 9 into the “meh” pile of movies to review (there are no piles, I was speaking figuratively).
9 is a wonderful gem of a movie. Its animation is on par with the work of Pixar, but it has a grittiness lacking in the worlds presented to us by folks who bought us great films like The Incredibles and the Toy Story movies. Nobody will mistake 9 for a Pixar film, but I felt it a valid comparison when you look at the amount of detail and effort that has gone into this movie. The fact is, this movie came out of Starz Animation, the same people who made the great HellBoy Animated movies.
I do feel a little vindicated by the fact that Tim Burton was involved in this film *only* as a producer, the real creative work comes from the mind of Shane Acker. 9 is based on a short, of the same name, which was release by Acker in 2005, the result of his student project at the UCLA Animation Workshop. While the original short (which is included on the blu-ray) has most of the working parts, the movie is far more complete, the characters are better explored, it has a better denouement, and it’s longer… duh! The short was also nominated for an Academy Award (Best Short Film).
The film tells the story of a tiny, odd, part rag-doll and little bit mechanical being, which comes to life in the ruins of a human sized house. It knows nothing of the post apocalyptic world that it finds itself in, but soon discovers that it is not alone. As indicated by the number drawn on his back, this toy-like creature is the ninth of his kind. The others are huddled in the ruins, left behind after the demise of the human race. And they live in fear of the cat-like robot creature which scours the landscape in search of a mysterious medallion.
For a movie utterly devoid of life as we know it, it still manages to engage your emotions. Within minutes of the film starting I found myself completely invested in the future of these little creatures, especially 9. Sure the plot of this film goes for a bit of a wander, but it remains interesting, exciting and hopeful every step of the way.
If you own a Blu-Ray player, then this is one of those movies that has to go on your “It looks too good to own on standard-def list” – ‘cause… You have a list like that, right? As I mentioned before, the original short is included on the Blu-Ray, along with a stack of little features, commentaries and what not. During all of which Shane Acker comes across as a really nice guy and exhibits nothing that would make me categorise him as the scruffy, emo, artistic, weirdo type, so it is safe to say that when I see his name on a project again (with or without Burton) it’ll be going in the pile titled “whatever the complete opposite of ‘meh’ is”. [source]
Check out the trailer on the official madman site: [link]