9 (2009)

Animation, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer
A rag doll that awakens in a post-apocalyptic future holds the key to humanity's salvation.
Although its story is perhaps too familiar and less complex than some might wish, 9 is visually spectacular, and director Shane Acker's attention to detail succeeds in drawing viewers into the film's universe.
  • Focus Features Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 09 Sep 2009 Released:
  • 29 Dec 2009 DVD Release:
  • $31.7M Box office:


9 is a 66/10
9 is better than average... but only barely.

The movie is carried by a unique visual style and a great sense of "place." The sack-men (and woman) are refreshingly odd and fun to watch. The post-apocalyptic city is consistently beautiful and dangerous. Desolate without feeling dull.

Unfortunately, the story and characters ARE dull. Not crushingly so... but enough to frustrate. Frequent, obvious plot holes and violations of established world-rules pulled me out of the movie over and over again. Tired cliches abound. I wasn't able to shake the feeling that I'd seen and heard this all before.

And that's a shame because there's a lot of potential here. If only the writer had taken more chances. Why not challenge the audience and defy expectations? Why make a movie that's too scary for kids but too simplistic for adults? Who is expected to enjoy it?

I would watch another Shane Acker movie if one is made (hopefully after he's picked a target audience). But 9 is not a classic.

... that said, it's probably worth watching on the big screen just for the sights and sounds.
Imagination at it's finest!10/10
I come from the school of early Tim Burton, and Jim Henson- two of my cinema deities from my earliest memories- and this is the first time in a long time that anyone has managed to touch on that magic for me.

I'll do my best to convey what a fantastic movie this is, without really revealing too much of the plot- because I think that this movie is best experienced not really knowing anything. You come in the same way the main character does- not knowing anything of this world.

While sitting in the theater, I recalled memories of the intensity and heart of "my first movies" such as E.T., The Secret of Nymh, The Dark Crystal, and Edward Scissorhands- movies that touched upon something that was at once so rooted in human emotion yet so fantastic and unimaginable. I can absolutely say that "9" is now considered one in that catalog of visionary and hallowed movies.

Guaranteed some will have a complaint with the length (a seemingly short 79 minutes considering the scale and impact of the story) but I think that a movie can be an epic without needing to be over 2 hours long, or a HUGE amount of unnecessary back story and origins that's only purpose is to make the story SEEM grandiose. This movie is a complete work of art- from the obviously eye-catching visual style and composition of what you see, down to the basic story and character development that you feel. In 79 minutes this team managed to harness my imagination and senses without having to dumb-it-down for the audience, or use any of the old gags that many bigger studios seem to rely on to sell tickets (thankfully there are NO cheesy gross out jokes to appeal to a typical cable-fed attention span). Instead they took me to places that I had never thought of, but will never forget. My most respectful nod to everyone involved.

Absolutely do not miss this one.
Well, the animation was great...7/10
I was looking forward to seeing 9, as I had already seen the original short film (also called 9) and wanted to see what they could do by expanding upon the story. Well, after seeing this full-length film, I can certainly say I liked the computer generated animation....as for the story, well, it left a bit to be desired. And the problem is that I can't strongly recommend the film, but if you don't see it in the theater, then you'll probably like the film less because the graphics are THE film.

The story is set in an alternate reality. While some of the features look very much like Earth, many of the details are different. There's been a war raging and tanks are definitely of the WWI variety while airplanes are of the WWII style--yet there are also very modern holograms as well. As for the leader, there is some similarity to a fascist dictatorship, but this guy sure ain't Hitler, Mussolini or Franco. It's like Earth, but not our Earth. Oddly, while I could accept this, in this alternate reality there apparently IS a Judy Garland and the song "Over the Rainbow"--an odd blending of the real and the fanciful.

Most of the story, you have no idea what led to this ruined world that is now devoid of all life--no animals, no people...not even bugs. Slowly, some of the details of this apocalypse come out...but never is there ever a full explanation as to what happened and why--just a dribbling of information here and there. What you positively know is that instead of living beings, there are a group of very small and oddly designed burlap covered dolls--with very high tech eyes. Why these dolls are there and their purpose is unknown to them, but some are just happy to hide and avoid the hellish mechanical creations that inhabit the rubble as well.

As for the burlap creatures, this is a shortcoming in the film. While 9 is the "designated hero", he and the rest of them really don't have any personality and a few of them seem like story cliches (such as the "strong and plucky female"). So, when one dies you are left wondering what made that one any different than the one that was killed moments earlier or you are left feeling a caricature died--not something tangible. No real character development occurs nor are their motivations particularly clear throughout the film. Nor, for that matter, does the story answer many questions at all. So, provided this doesn't bother you and you don't mind a vague story with vague characters, you'll enjoy the film very much--it certainly is a visual delight. If you demand clarity, then I suggest you see another film.
Absolutely refreshing10/10
Man I got to tell ya it is so nice to see something different that has the intensity of a mature movie yet lies within the realm of the animated world. Every scene was beautifully done and you can literally hang every frame up on a wall if you so choose to. The story was great, the suspense was amazing. Who ever complained about it not having a story, tell that to the crowd I saw jumping every so often from the intense confrontations. What I also liked about it was the hidden parts of the story. They give you enough information to enjoy the film but yet you can extract more of the back ground thought that went into what we saw in the completed film. For the first time ever I saw half of the audience stay behind after the credits role to not just see who worked on the movie but to debate back and forth about what they thought of it, what the characters represented, what happen in this or that scene, and of course the animation style and technique and how it moved them. Never seen anyone ever do that after watching a movie.
Once again, form over function5/10
I might have had my expectations too high when I walked into the theater. I hadn't done any reading and was under the impression that Tim Burton had directed it. So when it became obvious 5 minutes into the movie that once again I was going to be subjected to big budget stylistic environments and effects sans any kind of real mental engagement, I was pretty disappointed.

There were so many problems with this movie I don't really know where to begin without rambling. So instead I'll just say that the "good" is all about the visuals. The "bad" is all about my issues with plot and character development, audience education, cheesy dialog and unambiguous morality in circumstances that should force compromise at every turn. Being any more specific would result in a hideously long post, so here are my top 3 gripes:

- The story advances too quickly early on for the sake of setting up the second half of the movie. It left me with an empty feeling akin to throwing away dinner so you can have dessert.

- At the core of our protagonists identities is the idea of a multifaceted human soul (i.e. aspects of our personalities captured in discrete pieces of our immortal selves). Unfortunately, almost no time is devoted to explaining or developing this concept. It's up to the viewer to decide if they care or not and why. Beyond the heavy handed symbolism of the church Stitchpunks vs the university Stitchpunks, there isn't much of a reason you have to. The idea felt like a convenient foil device instead of the meaningful linchpin it could have been.

- The "successful" outcome of the movie is dependent on a wildly lucky string of events. There's no solid story here about bravery in the face of adversity, intelligent heroes, clever plot twists, and a few narrow escapes. Instead you get a chain of formulaic action scenes in which any of a few hundred close calls gone wrong prevents our happy ending. Give me an engaging story, not an account of winning the lottery 5 times in a row. See Secret of Nimh for a reasonably good animated noir counterexample.

Ultimately, I could probably sum up the mass of problems with "target audience confusion". On the surface, it seems aimed at a more mature set of folks (13 years +?) with its graphic wartime theme and truly creepy villains. The development of everything else and the simplistic dialog feels targeted at a younger audience. It probably could have worked well as either. Tone it down, keep it short and sweet for the 9 year old set or lengthen it and spend more time on story, characters, etc for the older crowd. It fails in targeting both.