• It is a film borne out of extensive market surveys: in its dismissal of the ideas of nationhood and politics. XXX’s latest instalment seems to revitalise the old, seemingly lazy, but sinister excuse: “Relax, it’s just a movie!”

  • Resident in this tired wistfulness is perhaps the next evolution of Chan’s cinematic icon.

  • A crisis of tone permeates much of Nine Lives: it recognises itself as a children’s film and yet, most of it is immensely morose.

  • It starts in a quaint, interesting, post-Tarzan manner, almost as if the film were a sequel. The film founds itself on an assumption of its lead character’s established presence in popular lore — as such, it spares us the tedium of a linearly delivered origin story, which is rendered, instead, through brief flashbacks.

  • The film attempts to employ elements of genre — like most other similar films, including director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s superior We’re the Millers (2013) do — as a mere background (a circumstance, an environment) for the actual crisis: individuals helping reach each other emotional maturity, but in this case, they end up serving as an unfortunate distraction.

  • Despite being set across multiple environments: a tropical island, a high mountain, an ocean and later, another, densely populated island-city, the film features no real sense of wonder or adventure — and instead, reduces it to a pursuit of accurate, boring physics, but not very complimentary to the immense probabilities of animation itself.

  • …result in an ironical fetishisation of the very genre he is trying to lament, but at least accounts for the relentless atmosphere of death and grief that rests heavily on the film.

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