All you have to do to get me to watch a movie is to throw these two words at me: Tim Burton.(Or puppets. Or stop motion. Or claymation. OK, there are a few things you could say.) You do that and I’m already sold. I’ve only been disappointed by something with his name on it maybe 5% of the time, if that, and am totally on board to see anything and everything he’s involved with.
When I first saw the trailers for 9, however, I wasn’t all that thrilled about it. I figured we’d wait to see it on DVD. The animation was interesting, sure, but it just felt like something was missing. My husband was more excited to see it than I was, and per our agreement for our recent date day, since we saw my pick—Where the Wild Things Are—we had to see his pick, too, which was, of course, 9.
We both preferred Wild Things.
It’s not that 9 was a bad film; on the contrary, it had amazing animation, unique ideas, thrills and a few chills, and more. It was a science fiction movie based on dolls; that alone was pretty clever, and definitely hard to pull off. Ron Howard sure can’t do that crap.
But all of that creativity and cool graphics just isn’t enough to make a movie. There’s got to be a solid plot, no matter how awesome your animation is. The overall plot for 9 was weird, which is good—but also flimsy, unsubstantial; it took a surprising spiritual turn which, in a movie about little dolls trying to kill an evil contraption designed by humans, seems very out of place.
Gone were the bits of humor, the empathy for the characters you would expect in such a film; it was thoroughly dark, again not a bad thing, but I don’t remember laughing once. While the dolls had distinctive personalities and likeable traits, there was really no real reason to cheer them on. Go dolls; save your weird selves from being torn apart by this weird machine or whatever! Nah, it doesn’t fit on a team banner.
There were very creepy, even disturbing elements to the film, including dismemberment, torture and death—all which would have surely given it a much harsher rating had it included humans rather than dolls. These scenes, gripping and intense, are well worth the watch, and the animation itself makes the film worthwhile; it simply could have been made of much stronger thread.