Tuesday night, the 10th, we caught up with "9" at a local budget
theatre. We would have been willing to pay regular prices, but just
couldn't fit it in during first run.
The beginning of the plot has some parallels with one of those stories
where the protagonist wakes up amnesic and has to figure out what's
going on. The fact that there's a dead man in the room when "9" comes to
fits right in with a Mickey Spillane thriller, except that 9 is a
foot-tall robot who's just been activated and there's no obvious cause
of death for the mysterious dead man on the floor.
I'm going to assume that, by now, everyone who is reading this who cares
to has probably already seen the movie, so I won't bother with a plot
synopsis. Suffice to say that, as an action-adventure movie set in a
"Mad Max"-like post apocalyptic junkyard world of rust and dust, it is
better and more exciting than most. The plot has some genuine pathos
and sentiment, although there are significant plot holes and other
anomalies. For example: 9 and the others are robotic in nature, with
(mostly) metal skeletons and electrical elements, so why are they
"injured" by damage to their rag-doll outer coverings, and why does
sewing them up make them all better? One could speculate about the
semi-mystical nature of their activation serving to integrate all their
parts into a whole, but the scientist responsible for them only leaves a
brief legacy message and doesn't go that far into hand-waving.
Like many other SF films, this one is heavily influenced by
"Metropolis," both in scene design and in theme: "The mediator between
the head and hands must be the heart," could have been found in this
script. The ending also follows that of Karel Capek's famous play
"R.U.R.", which is at least a fairly rare source to borrow from.
I don't want it to seem as though the film is terribly derivative, as it
isn't really. It's hard to put together a totally new work, and the
elements used here are combined in a fresh and interesting fashion. The
scene and character designs are effective, striking, and scary where
called for. Voice acting was capable, as it should be considering the
star-studded cast, although in fact Christopher Plummer as "1" was
really the only one that had a recognizable voice. (I was surprised not
to have picked out Martin Landau as "5", but he is more of a character
actor than people give him credit for--). There are some distinct
similarities between the roles of 9 and Frodo Baggins, but Elijah Wood
could have been any young male with a sincere delivery in the part.
Assessment: Enjoyable if light; worth seeing perhaps more than once to
catch background details and references. Despite the "cute" designs of
the robots, the 'evil' machines are scary and action intense, so
probably not suitable for the very young.