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Review: 9 – 2009 animated thrill ride adventure

Tim Burton produced 9 is one of the most visually stunning animated movies of 2009, sadly though the plot is less than inspired.

Director: Shane Acker

Released: October 28th

Running Time: 79 mins

Starring: Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Connelly and John C Reily, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Fred Tatasicore.

Rich in stunning imagery, and a dark overbearing message, 9, on the face of it should be a fantastic thrill ride of a movie. Sadly though, it falls into the realms of so many other animated movies, in failing to deliver a compelling plot, with depth and originality.


The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by machines, after a Government initiative to help the nation prosper in times of economic downturn, goes wrong, leaving all human life extinct. As 9, a hand sewn sack, in human form awakes; he soon discovers he is not alone, and that there is a whole group of others like him. Despite being the neophyte of the group he persuades them to come out of hiding and fight The Beast, a red eyed Terminator type creature who stalks the wasteland that has become earth.  As they fight for survival the soon discover that the future of preserving humanity’s legacy lies in their hands.

“We had such potential. Such promise. But we squandered our gifts. And so, 9, I am creating you. Our world is ending. Life must go on.” – The Scientist

The biggest problem with 9 is that in expanding it from an 11 minute wordless short that was awarded by the Academy in 2005, to a 79 minute talkie, Acker has created a film without much substance.

What could have been a masterpiece of cinema, instead just becomes a better than average CG movie. Artistically the film pushes the boundaries of computer animation to a new level. The films design is superb and it is easy to get lost in the wilderness of the human less world. The landscapes convey a real sense of terror, the machines would not look out of place in a Hollywood action blockbuster and the movies tone is dark and unrelenting.

The plot though is very predicable, moving from set piece to set piece without a strong narrative thread. The movies message, which only unfolds in the closing chapters is strong, and not like the overbearing message of Wall-E, but by the time it comes it fails to thrill.

If you can get passed the lack of story, 9 is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining affair, full of action and drama. It is also full of heart and good intention, as 9 and his pals fight to save what is left of the human soul, with the last remaining human scientist having implanted fragments of his own soul in their textile bodies.

The only puzzling thing about the film though is who Acker seems to be targeting. The film is too violent and sinister to delight young children, while adults will not connect with the stereotypical one dimensional characters who are instantly forgettable.

On the whole, 9 is a rather good movie. The cast list is strong, the action is thrilling, but there is something missing preventing 9 from reaching that perfect score. While it is unlikely to become a firm favourite, it is both fresh and different to the usual pack of poor animated movie we have seen in the past. If Acker can nail a strong story, and continue to deliver visually, three words spring to mind. Watch out Pixar!


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