Review: 9 (2009 film)
Image from Deviate NY
9 is an amazing movie. First of all – its length. It’s not some epic three-hour deal like The Lord of the Rings (though Elijah Wood voices one of the main characters), nor is it a simple rushed 30-minute job like those amateur “vloggers” on YouTube who ramble on and on, without even realising that they’ve gone past ten minutes without even making a valid point.
9 is a mere 80 minutes long, but don’t let that fool you. It’s action-packed, fast paced, and full of surprises.
If you like a bit of unique animation that isn’t your ordinary feel-good children’s favourite, this one’s for you. Nothing is better than an animation that looks undeniably cute on the outside, but so suspenseful beneath its skin.
And no, I’m not exaggerating. The nine stitchpunks (as they are known colloquially) of characters – nothing more than delicate dolls with an epic mission. These characters were created by a scientist during a time when there was war against man and machine.
Little did these nine wanderers know of their mission. Faced with problems from the beginning, the only creatures who possess any sort of human quality or emotion are these beloved stitchpunks among a world of destruction, unfamiliarity and gloom. The film details their journey of discovery and understanding as they encounter many hardships. In essence, their mission is clear: to live on and defeat The Machines – at least, what few are left.
But what is not so clear is the machines’ purpose and defense.
The fight between them and machine is intense. The inner workings of the machines – their programming, movements and destructibility – is unpredictable, and it seems unlikely that the stitchpunks will ever win. Given their circumstances, the viewer is left with no obvious sign of the conclusion of the film.
The thing I love about this movie and what makes it truly genius is the plot. Similar to some other animated films, there isn’t a major introduction of each and every character. Nine characters’ personalities are hard to spread out over the course of such a short film. But jumping straight into the story, it keeps you watching for the full length. I found it hard to even blink. The movie is one you can’t stop watching. The action goes on and on. And the personalities of each character develop. They’re all unique, but it’s impossible to forget each one when they are named 1, 2, 3, and so on.
There is no happy ending here. Nevertheless, if you dare to expect any sort of melancholy ending, it probably won’t be the sort that you expect. However, I believe the true genius in this film comprises not just the unpredictability and action, but the bittersweet scenes that develop toward the end of the film.
These scenes are harshly interrupted by the return of villains. The fight goes on. And while many of us like to remember the good parts in a film and end things on a high note, 9’s ability to sneak the most touching parts in the back of your mind is inevitable. But these only come together with the obscure fights and struggles, perhaps making them slightly more heartfelt and precious, as stark comparisons of deep human emotions do.
9 isn’t just a film of petty animated action. It’s deep, it’s dark and it’s throttling. And even then, it’s not petty at all. I’d highly recommend this movie. About a 9 (oh, what a coincidence!) or 9.5 out of 10. Hmm, maybe even 10.