Sunday, April 25, 2010

How It Should Have Ended: 9

I was really excited about 9.  Really, really excited.  Then it just never seemed to appear.  It came out in America, and it just vanished.  After months of chasing down a friend who assured me he had a copy, we finally sat down to watch it tonight.

I can see why it disappeared.

If you don't want to read spoilers, please don't keep reading.  You have been warned though, to be honest, I don't think you'd be missing much if you read my description instead.  That makes me sad.

The movie centres around 9 little sack people, created by a scientist, who are the only 'survivors' of the apocalypse - the war between machine and man.  We're in Terminator, but without any hope.  One of these sack people, 2, gets carried off by a creature known as The Beast - a cybernetic demon dog made out of bits of bone and metal.  Okay, a little creepy.

Cue their daring but ill-considered rescue attempt.  They succeed, and unleash a new and more terrible evil.  Fine.  Whatever.  They meet up with 7 (the only female, and therefore the only character with no facial blemishes, finer-grained sackcloth and a pouty lower lip), things go bad, etc.

They end up having to fight the Machine, which builds search-and-destroy bots, only to find out they didn't actually defeat it.  Up to this point, it had sucked out three of the sack people's souls, by using some kind of alchemical button.  All right, that's kind of cool.

9, being our typical Gary Stu, goes to uncover the secret: the scientist created the Machine with knowledge, but no soul, which is why it could perpetuate the atrocities it did; conversely, the sack people are the nine fragments of his soul.  That's pretty sad and lovely.  He says they are the last remnants of humanity.  Well, that would be fine, if they were human, but okay.

Throughout the movie, 6, who's a crazy inmate wearing striped pyjamas and with mis-matched eyes (Edward Scissorhands Sackboy), has been talking about returning to the 'Source'.  When he gets caught by the Machine, he doesn't resist having his soul taken.  9, putting these pieces together, decides on a course of action:

To use the alchemical button against the Machine and turn the 5 stolen souls of the sack people into bacteria-infested rain.  Have I lost you yet?

Here was a story that had the beauty all geared toward the greatest sacrifice, and possibly greatest betrayal that could be imagined: knowing what he knows, would 9 let the others be captured, even point them out, until he was the last one left, caught in the claws of the Machine, wondering whether he had really made the right choice, about to meet his destiny?  Would the Machine, now imbued with the fragmented (although possibly insane) mind of the scientist made whole, finally decide to build machines that would do more than destroy?  Wouldn't it change the Machine's entire operating system to include the perpetuation of life, including human life?  It can't have killed everyone.  This is localised to a city.  There's a chance other human beings, elsewhere, are still alive.

But instead there are explosions, a touching reunion scene where even the jerks are idolised through meaningful head nods, and finally, goo rain.  I mean, come on.  Animation isn't just for children.  That's where so many dubs of Miyazaki films go wrong.  When will we, as a Western audience, grow up enough to understand than animation is just another medium, with the flaws and responsibilities of every other moral soapbox?  When are we going to stop treating ourselves like children?

On the plus side, Morrigan and Alistair are hilarious in combination.  There's a story more worth my time - one I create myself.

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