Gar and I went to see 9 at my second favorite Northern Virginia theater, the Cinema Arts in Fairfax. I was astounded and delighted in Shane Aker’s wonderful simple story of technology and the human spirit. “Human” Spirit? Quite so, in the literal sense– but I don’t wish to give away too many details.
In the apocalyptic future of an Earth seen through a steampunk lens, 9, a little burlap covered homunculus, awakes to consciousness. As he takes in the devastated world he inhabits, he discovers 5, a being like him, although perhaps more technically inclined. He also discovers The Beast, a technological nightmare left over from an rebellion of machines over man. The ensuing events leads him into contact with the others of his kind, homunculi built around elements of the human spirit: 1- the High Priest and Authority, 2- the Engineer, 3 &4- the twin keepers of Lore, 5- the Tinkerer and Gentle Spirit, 6- the Mystic, 7- the Warrior, and 8- Brute Force. 9 is clearly the catalyst, and he fulfills his role with gusto. As a result of 9’s mistakes, an even greater danger than the Beast is awakened from the past.
Shane Aker’s storytelling sense is superb. The film is lean, tense, action-packed and perfect. For computer animations, the little homunculus puppets convey a surprising range of emotions. The visuals are amazing– a mix of Harry Potter, the Golden Compass and City of Lost Children done in computer graphics. The overall aesthetic is very much “steampunk’ with a plethora of cog and belt-driven Rube Goldberg devices dominating the camera frame throughout.
I trust Mr. Aker’s future in the movie industry is assured after ‘9’. While you can still see it on the big screen, I would run, not walk, to do so.
Also noted: Postcards are already out for the 2009 THE SPOOKY MOVIE FILM FESTIVAL, put on by C.W. Prather, the guy who brought you Every Other Day is Halloween, the Count Gor De Vol documentary. This year’s festival takes place 21-25 October 2009, at the Cinema Arts and the AFI Silver Theater, my favorite movie theater in the Maryland ‘burbs. It’s not too early to get a buzz going for this wonderful local film festival– start spreading the word and blogging about it. Expect to see more here.