Movie Valley
September 2009 Movie Reviews
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Starring: Alan Oppenheimer, Tom Kane, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly
Directed By: Shane Acker
Run Time: 1 hr 19 mins

9is about an apocalypse, caused by a world too reliant on computers/robots who then turn on humans and destroy them. The robots now rule the world, such as it is as it lies in ruins. A band of dolls rises to fight the machines, determined to have peace.

Yup. That's pretty much the plot in a nutshell. A post-apocalyptic, humanless world in animated form. Sounds like good times, huh? It's an incredibly dark movie. Sweet, a little funny at times (which was a bit unexpected), but dark. Very dark.

This movie had strong overtones of other movies, most notably Edward Scissorhands, particularly during the opening when 9 is being created and then the inventor dies and 9 is left all alone. This movie also resembled Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince with the notion of Horcrux - splitting a soul. Is that actually a "real" thing?

I'm a little puzzled about why robots, who were built for peace, were built with guns. That doesn't seem very peaceful to me. It's like the inventor knew there'd be a robot uprising and equipped them to do it. I'm also puzzled as to why the good button fit in the bad robot and that the good button changed the bad robot into a really bad robot. Shouldn't the good button require all nine souls (presumably the inventor put himself into all nine dolls) in order to make the world a better place? Shouldn't they have had to sacrifice themselves in order to start cleaning up the world? And since the bad robot absorbed some of the souls, shouldn't that have made the bad robot start to turn good, considering all that a robot needs in order to learn right from wrong is a soul?

The scale of the characters vs. their surroundings seemed to change a bit. 9 was so tiny he fit in the inventor's hands but yet the stained glass window of the church was "normal" size to them. It should have been much larger. Although scale kept shifting, I was absolutely amazed at the animation, particularly in the opening moments. The inventor's hand seemed so real. It was beautiful.

I must interject that this movie finds itself in the middle of a potentially long string of "fooling Robin" schemes where a movie is advertised under the name of a famous director only it turns out that not only did he not direct it, he didn't even write in it. He merely produced it (which, to me, doesn't seem as though you have much affect on a movie's overall vibe). I thought Tim Burton directed, or at least wrote this movie, particularly since it has the same overall feel as his other animated movies have. He didn't. He directed it. The same with District 9. Peter Jackson didn't write or direct it, even though his name is heavily associated with it. He just produced it. I think I'll steer clear of movies that have "9" in the title. I'm on to their scheme.

It was a decent movie overall. It was amazing how much these little dolls sucked me in, how much I cared about what happened to them. It fell short a bit with wrapping up why they were created and why the world was ruled by killing robots (and why did the mean robot resemble a cat??).

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Starring: Bill Hader, Lori Alan, Shane Baumel, Robert Bergen, Cody Cameron
Directed By: Christopher Miller, Phil Lord
Run Time: 1 hr 21 mins

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is about an inventor who finally invents something people love and enjoy only to have to start to go horribly wrong. The main - and pretty much only - cuisine in his home town is sardines. Flint's invention turns water into food, but when it's accidently released into the atmosphere, every time it rains, it rains food. As the machine begins to get corrupt, the food gets larger and larger. Big food raining from the sky = crushed people below.

It's been quite a few weeks from the time I watched this movie until the time I began writing the review. I don't remember much. It's in 3D, which is played well when the food begins falling from the sky.

I do remember one thing: I loved Steve the monkey. He stole every scene he was in. One of Flint's earlier inventions was a device designed to interpret monkey thoughts. While his invention does work, the flaw of his invention lies within the monkey himself - monkey thoughts are not interesting. As Flint outfits Steve the monkey with the device, we hear Steve's first words: "Hungry. Hungry. Hungry. Hungry." This is why we do not use the device on Baloo. No one wants to hear his thoughts (and they'd be oddly similar to Steve the monkey's). I loved Steve's fascination with gummy bears. And I loved the ending where people were introducing themselves and after every name you hear "Steve" pipe up. It really made me giggle. "Bob." "Steve!" "Cindy." "Steve!" "Eric." "Steve!" I loved Steve.

This movie spotlights waste and gluttony, which is a bit distracting and disturbing. The gluttony only embodies one individual - the town's mayor, so it's not that noticeable. The waste is something that sneaks in, isn't really a focus, and that's the disturbing part. What happens to the food that falls from the sky that no one can eat (whether because it falls somewhere yucky or because people are too full to eat everything)? It gets put in the dump, essentially. I don't know what the shelf life is on food falling from the sky, but I should think it could last a day or two, which is enough time to transport it to another town and feed people in need there. Food raining from the sky is a great way to feed those who can't afford it so wasting it (putting it in a landfill) bothered me. It's free. And it's going to keep raining food. Do something about it. And then there's the wastefulness that comes with playing with your food - the ice cream snow angels and ice cream snowmen. Again, people starving all over the world and people are playing with their food instead of eating it? It's a great imagery, don't get me wrong, but the idea of waste bothered me. That and it would be sticky (and stains).

Which leads me to my next issue that caused me not to love this movie - how clean are the streets and rooftops and sidewalks that people could eat food falling from the sky? You'd always have to have a plate handy to catch the food.

Perhaps I'm too weird and nerdy myself to understand, but I didn't see either Flint or Sam as too nerdy or eccentric. And there's nothing wrong with not looking nerdy (taking off the glasses and changing your hairstyle) but being nerdy on the inside. Shame on Flint for assuming she wasn't smart based on how she looked (no glasses and nice hair).

All in all, I liked this movie. Didn't love it (wanted to). But it wasn't bad. It dragged moving from raining food that everyone liked to what the problem was. Steve was the best part of the movie. "Steve!" A good movie for when you're home sick in bed.

District 9
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, Sylvaine Strike, John Sumner
Directed By: Neill Blomkamp
Run Time: 1 hr 53 mins

District 9 is about a group of stranded aliens who are placed in a refugee camp until the world can decide what to do with them. Twenty years later, the aliens still reside in the camp, their numbers multiplying, and still no hope for assistance back to their home country. The natives have come to resent them as the slums of the refugee camp have created violence and bigotry.

First of all, right off the bat, I was disturbed by the two and only two previews before this movie. Shoulda been a tip off. Normally, the previews before a movie are of a similar genre/theme. The two previews were for Legion and Zombieland. Not really sure what Legion is about but within the first twenty seconds, some old lady says something nasty to a pregnant girl and then jumps on her to bite her neck. Cue the blood all over the old lady's face and then she starts climbing the walls and hissing. It made my jaw drop. I was instantly uncomfortable. And it continued for the next two hours.

I was disturbed through the entire movie. It does take awhile to get into the movie as the camerawork is jumpy and the actual story - what's going on and what's going to happen - are tough to figure out. But even while my brain was trying to figure out what was going on, my heart was feeling the pain. The saddest thing about this movie is that I don't think anyone learned anything from what happened. Even Wikus didn't catch on until the very final seconds and that bothered me most of all.