Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rag(dolls) against the Machine

"9" is a melange of plot elements from "Terminator", "Half-Blood Prince" and PS3's "LittleBigPlanet". The leading characters are LBP's Sackboy-like ragdolls numbered from 1 to 9, each with his (or her in 7's case) own personality traits. They are mechanical beings physically, but are animated with a life force that is a source of both energy and intelligence for them.

The ragdolls are the only semblance of life remaining on a completely devastated world that has seen a global war between organic life and machines, with the machines coming out tops. Nothing biological has been spared, and in a macabre twist to functionality, the self-replicating machines salvage human and animal bones to incorporate into their own designs.

The ragdolls are hopelessly outmatched as they seek sanctuary from the marauding machines. It is only when 9, the latest and most improved model, awakens that sanctuary is no longer an option because he holds the secret to bringing life back to the world. He just has to discover what it is first, by piecing together the clues left behind by his creator. Complication: he doesn't get it right the first time and as a result makes a bad problem even worse.

This was a fun movie to watch because the trials these tiny ragdolls have to undergo seem so insurmountable. The balance of combat strength between them and their mechanical adversaries is completely asymetrical, but they do prevail with ingenuity, cooperation and a pretty strong survival instinct. But frail as they are, some sacrifices are made along the way.

It may be animated, but it isn't cute. It has rather dark themes too, so it's not really meant for the kiddies. Just as well. I'd say with the complex story, the drama and pathos, and the quirky bizarreness of the entire concept, "9" is one of the better movies of this year.

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