The Infrequent Movie and TV Review

Quick update on Mad Men, five episodes in: It’s catchy, I’ll admit to that. Though the lead character is one of those tragic anti-heros who is hiding so much that the viewers know they won’t really get to know him for several seasons. For those that want to watch the series and haven’t invested themselves yet, I won’t give anything more away, but I do need to say that while I’m OK with flawed lead characters, I’m starting to get tired of every critically acclaimed and popular TV series needing a broken almost bad-guy to make the series interesting. That’s the only problem in the show that I’m seeing so far: that Donald Draper is the sole focus of the show, where I think it might be a bit more interesting to make advertising and the culture at the time the focus (the series starts out in 1960), and let the personal stories fill things in week after week…But that’s just me.

On to the film. 9 is (as I found out from the extras on the DVD) based on a 10 minute short film by the director when he was in animation school. It’s the story of a group of rag dolls in a post-apocalyptic Earth trying to right the wrongs of their human predecessors who managed to help destroy all life on the planet as a result of a war with the machines they created.

It’s a CGI flick, and as such, it’s walking a fine line between realistic and still fantastic. By that, I mean that the world still looks familiar enough that we can tell that it’s Earth, but it’s seen anew and on a small level through the eyes of these fascinating little dolls who have been created for reasons they don’t even realize.

It is a very interesting story, but very well paced for a film that has to pack a lot into 80 minutes of story. 9 is the last of the rag dolls to be created, with each previous model showing improvements over the last in some way. But when he wakes up, 9 cannot speak and has no idea where he is or if others of his kind exist. But while venturing out into the world, he is attacked by a mechanical dog who abducts 2 (another doll). Soon he finds some others and is taken to their hideout high up in a long-abandoned cathedral. The leader is paranoid and insists that they need to have nothing to do with the machines, but 9 insists that they should rescue their kidnapped friend. But along the way, the dolls discover their purpose in the world.

For a movie set in such an environment, it doesn’t preach the whole “machines are bad” mantra and generally avoids the question of whether the humans are guilty or not. Instead, it’s simply about shutting down the machines for one last time so that they world can return to peace and harmony.

It’s visually striking, well written, and not voiced like most animated movies: you get a sense that the actors (Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connolly, and John C. Reilly) are really acting in roles and not just voicing a part.

It’s a little intense, so I’m not sure the girls would be able to handle it, but for younger teens, I think it would be fine. But adults would get a lot out of it too. Four out of Five Stars.

See you tomorrow.