Even though America is in constant denial about the “end of times,” as a Jehovah’s Witness would force down your throat, Hollywood seems completely comfortable with exploiting the theme by releasing a multitude of quixotic perspectives on what the end of the world just might look like. We’ve seen all aspects of the world facing its deathbed, from Michael Bay’s flashy doozie “Armageddon” to the widely underrated Alfonso Cuaron-directed “Children of Men.” Only this time, we get “the end of times” in animated form, hence the doom-and-gloom landscape of “Nine,” from a relatively unknown director to emerge from the dim grotto of UCLA’s Animation Studios, Shane Acker.
“Nine” feels like a surreal, nightmarish dream. First, the world ends because of humans and their stupid technology (the military creates an army of Leviathan-sized robots as intelligent as Albert Einstein that go buck-wild and kill everybody). After years of chaos and destruction, earth develops into a toxic wasteland. Burrowed underground in fear of the monstrous beasts roaming above ground, are a pact of nine rag-doll looking, minute robots with allotted names of One through Nine.
They are the “good guys,” though they look pretty powerless considering their stature. Number 9 of the pact, after witnessing the capture of his friend Number 2 by a robotic creature, decides they should venture into the barren and tortured scenery to find Number 2. Consequently, Number 9 screws the mission up by touching things he shouldn’t have touched and accidentally re-starts a gargantuan mother-bot programmed for manufacturing more and more of the metallic beasts. Ruh-roh, Shaggy. It’s up to Number 9, along with his mates who keep dropping like flies, to fix the sticky situation he single-handily dragged them into.
There’s no amiable qualities in “Nine”; just creepy, depressing everything. However, if Tim Burton is a man you can appreciate, then Shane Acker comes to a close second. The two have such an uncanny likeness to the ominous and dark, one could almost assume they regularly swap notes. Acker’s twisted and often horrifying debut may not rub well with a majority of the general public, but it’s visually intoxicating, no matter how macabre.
You may like “Nine.” Or you may incredibly hate it. I enjoyed “Nine” on a highly aesthetic level and even as a quality horror movie. However, there in lays a conundrum. Is “Nine” supposed to be a horror movie, a somber tale of woe and misery, or an exposition in sci-fi? After 70 minutes of being consistently frightened, watching rogue robots tear apart a landscape fitting to Mars, and witnessing the freakish deaths of numerous characters, it’s hard to tell. “Nine” definitely stands alone in it’s own secular, goth-like world H.G. Lovecraft would have loved to inhabit. It’s just a question of whether you want to experience such a place.