Today's Suggestion? A Reminder That Features Aren't Always Better Than The Shorts That Inspire Them.


Today's suggestion is also a reminder that talking isn't always better, because the short in question was a near-silent marvel, and much of that magic was diluted by the introduction of speaking characters and dialogue that seemed to serve little purpose other than to underline/emphasize things that we already knew because of what we'd seen. (Films that "show" before they "tell" pack a particularly powerful punch, and the medium of animation is especially fertile soil for mostly-and-even-exclusively-visual storytelling. This particular film would have been better if it had remembered that fact.)

Additionally, it's a reminder that making certain themes and questions (and their answers) explicit isn't always better for the story you're trying to tell or for the emotions you're trying to elicit. Spoon-feeding can be helpful if you're a baby, but if you're a bit more mature in your cinematic tastes, it frequently feels like force-feeding, and that's just irritating (and unhealthy).

But before you take this too negatively, today's recommendation is most of all a reminder that Shane Acker needs to make another feature, because he's a visual genius. The fact that his only feature film to date, 9, isn't as good as the astonishing short that inspired it says more about the original 9 than it does about the full-blown version.

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to watch the original short, then to watch the feature it inspired (currently available on NETFLIX INSTANT) in order to appreciate the differences between the two. I suspect most folks will agree that the short's better, but there's plenty to enjoy about the feature-length version, as well. (And to be entirely honest, it's not quite fair to compare the two so strictly. Apples and oranges, really, since the challenges of telling a story over a 9-minute span are markedly different than telling a similar story over an 80-minute one. Do I think a nearly-wordless feature-length animated film can work? Yes, I do. Do I think it's easy to do that? Not at all. I certainly understand Acker's decision.)

In a postapocalyptic world, rag-doll robots hide in fear from dangerous machines out to exterminate them, until a brave newcomer joins the group.
Attribution(s): All posters, publicity images, and stills are the property of Focus Features and other respective production studios and distributors.