screenplay by Pamela Pettler
directed by Shane Acker
by Walter Chaw There's something missing from Shane Acker's 9, and I'm having a hard time putting my finger on it. I think it's that for as much as I like my nihilism, there's a flavour to this year's variety of Apocalypse that suggests to me the only thing left to win is the Wasteland. There's no moral stake in scrambling for scraps, just this Pyrrhic duty to compete, lust fast-cooling on the proverbial sheets, damp and rumpled as they are from a lot of impotent thrusting. So 9 exists in an Industrial Revolution Steamboy alternate universe, ended when an evil fascist dictator creates, with the help of a scientist (Alan Oppenheimer--weird, non?), a sentient machine capable of building other machines to do its bidding. Imagined as a weapon of peace, no surprise that it turns on Man and apparently kills all living creatures, blots out the sun, and spends its time hunting down little burlap rag dolls animated with the scientist's--wait for it--soul. It's the second Terminator film of the summer, in other words, as well as the second to mention the idea of horcruxes after Harry Potter 6. Accordingly, it's a pretty empty, if visually startling, picture. Based on a celebrated, Oscar-nominated short, 9 hasn't made the transition to feature-length with much of an emotional, or intellectual, payload to justify its extended runtime. The best comparison is to Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings, alas: the seed of something left fallow.