Shane Acker's "9", an oustandingly good digital animation film that gives voice to, and is a collective dream of, the common, group psyche's recent obsession with end of the world scenarios. ( ie: "The Road", "2012", "Legion", "The Book of Eli"... ). We are so deeply in need of a RADICAL shift in the way we look at things, the way we treat each other, ourselves and the world that the dreams of it are surfacing everywhere, literally bursting out of our collective consciousness. "9" is a highly articulate, and, as are most things associated with Tim Burton, a splendidly unusual and imaginatively expressed work of art that speaks these concerns with creativity and intelligence.
The first part of the film is the best for me. A little toy-like figure, made of cloth and machinery falls to the floor in a destroyed, dust-filled laboratory and comes to consciousness. It is totally naive and new to existence and knows nothing of the apocalyptic world it begins to discover. But this little guy with a number 9 printed on his back, seems to already posses inborn instinct. He innocently begins to explore the destroyed world around him and eventually discovers others like him, each with numbers of their own on their backs. Everything is deathly quiet, the human race is extinct and he wanders around a world of widespread destruction and waste. The mood of this lonely exploration and the first flickerings of his understanding, for me, was something I would've liked to have seen more deeply and broadly explored.
From here on the story becomes an action piece, full of adrenaline and technological menace - of course, that's part of our "trilogy of obsession". We both fear and are completely obsessed with technology and we love the crash, bang and boom of it. ( "G.I. Joe", "Star Trek" & the "Transformers" films ) LOTS of it in this movie. So it works as a crowd pleaser, beautifully.
The world has been destroyed by a machine revolution, also seen recently in "Terminator Salvation" and not a novel concept. What's behind this destruction, in this film, is something entirely different though. A well-meaning scientist's work is corrupted by the military ( "District 9" ) and the machines become destroyers out to unvariably exterminate everything but themselves. Our little numbered heroes, when a few of their own are taken and "absorbed" into the main machine, then seek to rescue their compadres, all of them led by our little Number 9. His special contribution to the group pysche is his highly evolved level of loyalty, courage and fearless moral purpose.
And this is what we eventually discover ... each figure was created by the same scientist who's corrupted work brought about the Apocalypse. As a last act to preserve the best of the human psyche he imbued in each one of them individual aspects of the human spirit for them to manifest. All different and all unique, they must work together to achieve a higher purpose. Together they represent the complete spectrum of all the best traits of lost humanity. Much like the The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, the "toys" represent noble aspects of a whole, a gestalt, waiting to be triggered into action. They truly come to life, realizing their fullest potentials in the face of danger. In both sets of characters, it is compassion that ignites their courage.
"9" works exquisitely as an action film but is also a thinking person's entertainment as well. I would've liked to have seen it lean a bit more in the thinking direction, but it's all there anyway. Love that crash, bang, boom but I also savour something that deeply affects my wondering about the coming state of the world.
A new decade, a new beginning - let's hope our collective psyche's Apocalypse obsession ( the stupid "2012" for ie. ) becomes more concerned about the literal meaning of the word, which is "revelation" and that we too will be inspired to move beyond our selfish concerns and shift our collective gears with compassion and courage to do the right thing.
Not the best one for the kids unless they're older than 12-ish and a great one for adults ... "9" is a unique gem. Love it.