Saturday, April 15, 2017

Nine Lives Review

     As someone who really likes watching movies and listening to/partaking in discussions about them, sometimes a movie will come up that is notoriously bad, like "the reputation precedes it" bad and sometimes, against one's better judgement, a person may find themselves seeking out the film in question to say, "Okay, let's see if it is really that bad."  Well, that was me with Nine Lives and thanks to Netflix, I was able to see it and we're gonna talk about it.

     Nine Lives stars Kevin Spacey as Tom Brand, a multi-millionaire business man who is too obsessed with his company that he more or less completely neglects his second wife (Jennifer Garner) and daughter (Malina Weissman).  He goes to buy his daughter a cat (even though he can't stand them) but something happens at his office building that puts his body in a coma but his mind is now in the cat that he bought.  So now he has to save his marriage, his company and his human body while being a cat.

Yeah, I made this face reading that part too...
     So...where to begin?  Well, I noticed that the movie wastes very little time turning you off of the overall look of the thing.  After the movie opens with some cat videos pulled from FailArmy montages, the camera shoots up from two most-likely CGI kittens playing on the shore of a river upwards past the skyline of Manhattan and up to a plane Spacey is about to parachute out of and not a frame of it looks convincing.  The speed that the shot zooms up coupled with the awful green screen and CG effects make for a very unpleasant sight and it doesn't stop there.  At the 3:28 mark, everything in the movie took on a very plastic, overly synthetic look and I groaned when I realized I still had another 85 minutes to go.  Every scene transition feels just as unpleasant as that zooming to the plane shot, whether it'd be a zooming shot through the scaffolding of Spacey's new tower that would make CSI demand the movie dialed it back a little, the cartoony closing black circle transition or just the fact that the movie jumps all over the place without giving us much to latch onto story-wise.
     The cast here seems really disinterested in the whole affair.  Spacey seems alright when he's in human form but once he becomes a cat, his line reading sounds similar to the opening of The Last Airbender where it sounded like instructions being read off the back of a pizza box, specifically his realization of his situation.  It's not Matthew Perry in Fallout: New Vegas bad but it's still bad.  Garner and Weissman are serviceable, I guess but nothing really stood out about them.  I think I may have been distracted by the presence of Spacey's ex-wife (Cheryl Hines) and her daughter (Talitha Bateman), who keep popping up because Garner and Hines' characters are apparently friends but I didn't buy it.  Hell, I bought the rift between Weissman and Bateman even less as the forced conflict they had is as synthetic as the look of the film.  Christopher Walken is doing his usual Walken thing while Mark Consuelos' Ian comes off as the most cartoony aspect of this movie and the whole time he was on, I kept thinking he looked like a discount bin version of Oscar Isaac.  Robbie Amell is in this as well as Spacey and Hines' son but I never really got a sense of what his job actually was and it turns out he just basically became a plot device to thwart Consuelos in the end.

"Why are we here, cat?"  "I ask myself the same thing, Cousin of Arrow."
     As for the special effects, remember the Garfield movies?  Yeah, when the cat is CG, I had flashbacks to that and while I do remember Garfield not being as bad as it could have been, the CG there was bad by 2004 standards as is the case here.  Sure, the cat's overall design here is more believable since when it isn't CG, an actual cat is used but the CG sticks out like a very sore thumb.  This movie had a budget of $30 million but most of that went to the cast me thinks, leaving the visual FX team very little to work with.
     Look, I didn't go into Nine Lives expecting anything great, or good for that matter.  Yet, I still found myself disappointed once I reached the end credits.  Why, you ask?  Because Nine Lives' greatest offense is that it is just boring, which (depending on who you ask) could actually be worse than infuriating because at least when a movie pisses you off, you feel something.  There isn't the bludgeoning of extremely nauseating CGI and acting like Gods Of Egypt, the heavy-handed obnoxiousness of Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates or even good ideas gone awry like Batman vs Superman, instead we're left with a film that almost seems like it is actually putting effort into being not interested in its own existence.  Most people walk away from a movie disappointed that they didn't like it more but here I'm disappointed that I didn't dislike this movie more.  Nine Lives is just another one of those movies where it doesn't try because it is aimed at kids, where I've said before just because you're aimed at a certain demographic doesn't mean you shouldn't try.  This movie may not have infuriated me like it has others but if you haven't seen it yet, keep it that way because it still sucks and with that, I'm giving Nine Lives the rating of a Throwaway.

Get the fuck outta here!
      Feel free to sound off below, what did you think of Nine Lives and what is your favorite or least favorite talking animal movie?  Thanks for reading and if you like what you see on this blog, be sure to nudge that "Follow" button and stay cynical!

     -The Cynic

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