9 (2009)

Rated: PG-13 for violence and scary images.
Length: 79 minutes
Grade: DCDC=D
Budget: $30 million
Box Office: $51 million (32 U.S., 16 Intl., 3 DVD)

Written by: Pamela Pettler (Monster House and Corpse Bride)
Directed by: Shane Acker (No other credits)
Starring: The voices of Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connelly, Fred Tatasciore, Elijah Wood, and Alan Oppenheimer.

In a post-apocalyptic world, nine stitched-together lifeforms teach us about the dangers of technology (and religion) as they try to survive and not duplicate the mistakes of their maker.
Entertainment Value: D
I knew this was a Tim Burton production, and I knew it had a bunch of big names and it would be animated. Hence, I was in. However, after falling asleep at least twice in a movie only 79 minutes long to begin with, what can I say but that this is eminently disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s visually fascinating, but the plot is such an implausible wrapper for what must be by now considered the most threadbare of anti-technology messages that it’s hard to take seriously. I’d far rather watch 9½ hours of the Lord of the Rings (or even the shoddy old 132 minute animated version) than just barely more than one hour of this. Given thirty years to improve on the classic originator of this genre, Wizards, and even twenty years to rework something like Akira and all the Anime it has spawned or the adult-content Heavy Metal, this is no improvement at all. It’s bad preaching at its worst, a fact made all the more obvious by what I can only imagine was a deliberate inclusion of Robert Oppenheimer’s third cousin to voice one of the “stitchpunks.”

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence C, Language A
This is not an animated film for kids. It’s properly rated PG-13 for violent and scary images. But you sort of suspected that from it being a Tim Burton deal ahead of time. Remember Coraline? PG-13 is just right.

Significant Content: D
Technology is bad. Science is bad. Power-mad politicians will always use whatever was good in technology for evil. The machines we create will destroy us. Religion is the clothing of scared and weak people who will use brute force to coerce others into behaving properly. It’s good to ask lots of questions. Sacrificing oneself for others is very good.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
The artwork is fascinating and very well done. But the movie is so stuffed with homages that it winds up feeling incredibly derivative. If you’ve seen 2001, The Terminator, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix trilogy, War of the Worlds, and Wizards, you’ll feel like you’ve seen everything here before. As for thought value, I just can’t give much credit when the message is so overt that it tries to squelch thinking rather than stimulate it.

Discussion Questions:
~If you thought of each of the stitchpunks as representing a “type” of person in human society with their slice of the maker’s soul, is this little society complete? What types are missing, if any?
~Discuss the portrayal of religion as represented by Number 1. Are religious figures as abusive as he is? What are his real motivations? Is Christianity hostile to people asking questions, as he implies?
~What do you make of the end scene where it appears to be raining friends?
~Does this movie seem to be saying that technology is always too dangerous to develop or that technology is a good thing if only we can keep it out of the hands of evil people? What do you think? Consider things like nuclear power and biological experimentation.
~With all the movies that have been made about technology going wrong and turning against us, why do you think we haven’t heeded the warnings? Have these movies served to help keep us safe? Do they serve any purpose at all?
~Consider how much technology surrounds us every day such as cell phones and computers, for instance. How much would you say such things are our servants, and how much would you say we are enslaved by them?
Overall Grade: D
Bizarre, ugly, crazy, incoherent, and uber-creepy. Definitely not for kids.

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