Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Have you noticed that more and more movies are opening on Wednesdays instead of Fridays? Originally, the Wednesday premieres only occurred before long holiday weekends. But now it's a marketing ploy to be had during other weeks, too. So opening today, 9/09/09, we have the latest animated movie -- 9. Oh, and by the way, it's a Wednesday in September, both of which have 9 letters. Today is also the 252nd day of the year. 2+5+2=9. But I digress.
The sci-fi/action film is directed by Shane Acker -- and is based on his 2005 Oscar-nominated short film. Famed director Tim Burton serves as producer. Sound familiar? Well it was just this summer that director Peter Jackson served as a producer of another sci-fi film, District 9 -- based on director Neill Blomkamp's own short film.
Set in a near future, but with nods to evils of the past, 9 shows us that the world's machines have turned on mankind and decimated the human population. But a scientist, in the final days of humanity, had a plan to save civilization by creating a small group of numbered rag-doll like "stitchpunks." When our protagonist 9 comes to life, he must work with the others to find a way to beat the machines and survive. Sound familiar? Well we did just have another post-apocalyptic feature with men fighting machines in the future (Terminator Salvation) -- and let's not forget that men and machines shared (way too much) screen time in the Transformers sequel, too. Well fear not, this movie is better than those.
The strongest animated movie of the year remains Pixar's Up -- but I liked 9 more than the last release in the genre. Unlike the over-rated Ponyo, the appeal of this film goes well beyond the animation. The adventure story, although not completely original, moves quickly and holds your interest. And the voice cast is strong -- lead by Elijah Wood in the title role -- and including John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover and Martin Landau. [Rated PG-13; opens today]