Matt Pais from the Chicago Tribune articulated exactly what many have been trying to express within a simple sentence, "Triple the average visual style times zero story doesn't add up."
Producer Don Hahn once wrote how he and his team presented a complicated story idea to an executive, and after several minutes, the executive stopped them and asked two simple questions that are key to creating the beginning of a solid storyline: "What does this guy want and why can't he have it?" In addition to answering these two questions, there needs to be a "wow" factor, an original idea that was never implemented before and gives the movie its own flavor.
Well, we know that 9 wants to know who he is and why his world is the way it is. The killer machines and 1's opposition got in his way of finding out the answers. Unfortunately, this whole man vs. machine Frankenstein plot has already been used in so many movies (ex. I Robot, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Stealth, Wall-E, Titan A.E., the Rats of NIMH), that it would be a challenge to create a film with a similar environment and still set itself apart from the rest of the sci-fi category. The only difference between this movie and all the others is its unique visual style, and that is just not enough--- like presenting the beautiful icing without the cake.
Plot Holes- here are several conundrums I found, correct me if I'm wrong:
- If the scientist made the dolls, shouldn't they have been all in the same room?
- If so, how come they did not know there was a 9th doll when he was clearly sprawled next to the dead scientist?
- How did most of them end up in the middle of a war zone? What happened to the other killer machines?
- If all the dolls make up the scientist's soul, shouldn't they all be "set free" so that the scientist rests in peace?
- If these dolls make up the scientist's soul, then what does that say exactly about the character of each individual dolls? That each doll should represent the scientist's different traits only, like the Seven Dwarfs? If so then why are some (like 1) flawed and have the ability to change, while others (like 9) are always full of stagnant virtue?
- If indeed each doll makes up the scientist's soul, shouldn't it be clear what each doll represented? If so, then why were 3 and 4 twins? They were so hyper that it was easier to consider them as two counterparts that make up a whole character. But Acker intended them to have individual characteristics, one to "teach" and one to "define" us. How could the audience make that distinction between the two?
- As for the fire ring, now that we find out what it's for (from the original short), we still do not know where it came from. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that fire ring never appeared at all in the entire film until the end...and if people did not watch the original short, they would find it completely random.
- What are the dolls supposed to do at the end? It was really dissapointing to hear 9 say, "I don't know" to answer that gaping question. Sure it's raining, and there might be a vegetation miracle that would bring back biological organisms, but what are the dolls supposed to do? They can't repopulate, they're made of stitching. They are supposedly the remains of a fragmented soul, and there is no other human life around. What are they going to do in their spare time ? Laugh and smile at each other like they did in that "Somewhere over the Rainbow" scene? (I couldn't help but laugh at their ridiculous gaiety) while they spend every second rediscovering ALL of human knowledge?
Visuals-It was very unfortunate that the graphics were so amazing (and done under such a low budget!) while the story was cliche and inspid. To read about the making of 9, go here http://features.cgsociety.org/story_custom.php?story_id=5254
Cons-Why does everyone but 1 look so detailed? He had a smooth animal cracker texture while everyone else was riddled with granulated stitches. Is that to set him apart from the rest of the dolls? And sometimes, the flying rocks do not look like rocks at all, but like nerds candy. Perhaps that is a frustrating technological setback that we have yet to overcome? Or maybe it's just me.
Pros-I did like how the artists featured themselves in the character 6. He was the one who drew hundreds of charcoal drawings and posted them all on a wall. If anyone's been to a foundation drawing class or lab, students do that all of the time. And I loved how his hands were always covered in charcoal! It never seems to come off! The ring of statues really reminded me of the Ringling Museum of Art (It's a beautiful place, go visit it). I really like how 9 jumps off on a rope, the angle and posture looked so dynamic. I also liked how the twin dolls had flickering eyes, a reference to the beginnings of filmmaking.
That's my two cents!