Posts Tagged ‘martin landau

21
Sep
09

Movie Review: 9

nine

 

Burlap sack guys vs. The Machine

Starring the voices of Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, and Martin Landau. Story and direction by Shane Acker

In this post-apocalyptic animated movie, “9” (Wood) wakes alone in a house. Without the ability to speak or understand who/what he is, he ventures out into a world that looks like it’s been to hell and back. As his curiosity leads him around he’s discovered by “2,” (Landau) another of his kind. After “2” is taken by a robot dog he makes it to a church which is the sanctuary for others of his kind: “5,” (Reilly) a tinkerer who was best friends with “2;” “1,” (Plummer) the leader of the group; and “8,” (Fred Tatasciore) a big, brawny “protector.”

“9” hatches a plan with “5,” to rescue “2.” In the process they run into “7,” (Connelly) a revolutionary heroine and “3 and 4,” twins who catalog and replay information they collect. When “9,” unknowingly awakes the Machine the situation becomes dire and now the group of creations must fight for the lives.

That’s as much as I’ll say about the movie. It’s difficult to love this type of movie because, let’s face it, the post-apocalyptic world isn’t easy to love. The idea that Man creates Machines that turn against him and inevitably destroy him isn’t exactly cheery. It may happen. Our vision of the future has changed from “Things to Come,” to “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” and we’ve all become complacent and are just waiting for it to happen.

But let me get back to the movie. Overall, I liked it. It didn’t feel so much “kid”-oriented as it was an animated movie for adults. That’s not to say that children couldn’t watch the movie but post-apocalyptic allegory is a bit much for anyone under the age of 10. I remember when “The Black Cauldron” was looked down upon because the main character had self-esteem issues.

What the movie does have going for it is a solid story. Sure, there are things that are overlooked (e.g. how a character learns to speak) but that doesn’t get into the way of a story about a scientist’s redemption for creating a Machine that became mis-used by the military and turned against mankind. It unravels as a mystery and when you finally understand what happened to society you see why this rag-tag group has to survive.

The message that comes from the film is this: intellect is no replacement for the human soul. Each of the nine creations is a part of the scientist’s soul. His intellect is the heart, and brain, of The Machine. In the end it’s cold calculation versus the want to survive.

Should you go see this? While I was impressed with some of the technology and it is a well-made story (with a few fantastical elements) I have to say this one may be a rental. Animated movies are generally kid-fare (save “American Pop,” “Heavy Metal” or the like) but I’m not sure I would make a kid under 10 watch this because they may get bored or upset with the beginning visuals of rusted and decayed vehicles and buildings or dead people. Just my thoughts.

My grade: A-

Advertisements
28
Oct
08

Movie Review: City of Ember

 

 

A post-apocalyptic kids movie.

 

Starring Harry Treadaway, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Toby Jones, Tim Robbins and Martin Landau. Directed by Gil Kenan. Based on the book “City of Ember,” by Jeanne Duprau.

 

The story: in a world on the throes of Armageddon, a group of scientists create a city underground (City of Ember) that will last 200 years. The Mayor of the City is instructed to keep a box that counts down the 200 years and gives explicit instructions on how to evacuate Ember and return to the (hopefully) restored Earth above. Problems ensue when the 7th Mayor of Ember has a heart attack and the box is hidden away.

 

Doon (Treadaway) and Lina (Ronan) are school friends. When the power outages become longer and more frequent, Doon and Lina decide to do something about it while others blindly wait for the Builders to return and fix everything. Doon searches through the Pipeworks and finds secret doors and passages. Lina meets with Mayor Cole (Murray) and fins how corrupt he really is. When Doon finds that his father, Loris, and others tried to escape Ember and Lina finds the instructions to leave, they become suspected of treason. They’re only hope is to find the way out of Ember.

 

“City of Ember” could have easily been darker and grittier, but it wasn’t. I would say that’s akin to “The Black Cauldron,” or more serious childrens’ fare. My only real complaint about the movie is that I felt it took a while to get to the heart of the mystery, but that’s pittance compared to what the movie delivered. The overall movie was entertaining, engrossing, fun, and it held my attention the entire way.

 

Most impressive to me had to be the set designs. Ember looked like it had been designed somewhere between the 1940’s and 1950’s. And with the fact that the city would be limited in resources, especially after 200 years, it only seemed right that the characters would be wearing hand-me-down-to-the-nth-generation clothing. The city existed in the basement of the Earth, and thus so had small inventions scrapped together from bits and pieces of other objects. The entire civilization was well thought-out.

 

There’s no doubt that Bill Murray ate-up his role as the corrupt “everything is just fine” Mayor Cole. Tim Robbins stood in as Doon’s father, and did pretty well. Most surprising was Martin Landau as Sul, the narcoleptic engineer at the Pipe Works. He provides comic relief and effectively “saves the day.”

 

Do I recommend this movie? Sure. There’s no language and relatively no violence. The story is engaging enough to keep the attention of kids and adults. As for what ages should see it, I suggest 6 and up.

 

My grade: B+