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2009 computer animated film directed by Shane Acker and produced by Tim Burton.

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Shane Acker's Animated Film is Original and An Exercise in Oddity But A Little Unsatisfying....

  • Sep 12, 2009


Based on the award-winning short film by Shane Acker, the CGI-animated full-length feature film “9” intends to expand on its myth and story. Acker himself takes the helm as director in this film co-produced by Tim Burton along with Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted). When I first saw the trailer for “9”, I was blown away. I tempered my expectations when I went into the theater and did watch the film with an open mind. The film is a visually stunning piece with superb set designs and fluid animation whose style may have been inspired by traditional stop-motion animation.
In unknown time and place, a curious doll-like creature with the number “9” (Elijah Wood) on its back awakens to find his supposed creator (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer) dead. “9“ has awakened in a barren world, this world is now a wasteland, destroyed by war; a war waged between humans and machines. “9” discovers that he is not alone, stumbling across a similar creature called “2” (Martin Landau) who also gets kidnapped by a mechanical monster. “9” then discovers that he is a “stitch punk” and there are more of his kind being led by “1” (Christopher Plummer). “9” sets out to rescue “2” but instead awakens an evil with the use of a talisman that may doom them all. It is now up to “9” and his brethren to try to discover the truth behind their creation…
“9” is the last created “stitch punk” and he is the final piece of the puzzle in the “9” mythos. These creatures are miniature creations that resemble a sack held together by either leather strings, metal snaps, buttons, zippers, or shoe strings. They have camera-like eyes and instant access to their innards. The characters in “9” are well thought out, # 1 is the supposed leader and the cautious kind--whose sensibilities are all about preservation. # 2 is the explorer and the inventor. # 3 and 4 are twins who are also mute, they keep the history of mankind. # 5 (John C. Reilly) is a healer and a skilled mechanic. # 6 (Crispin Glover) has near-psychic abilities who channels his visions through drawings. # 7 (Jennifer Connelly) is a warrior and # 8 is the bodyguard of # 1, strong and fierce, yet innocent in a way. # 9 is the curious, selfless protagonist of the film. There is something relevant in the number “9”, one can say that they are different “characters” or potentials of mankind. Acker definitely intended the film to revolve around the creatures in creating this world so full of obstacles that this miniaturized creatures can take advantage of with their size. Acker’s keenness and passion for his creations are the film’s highlights; the film is a stunning work of visual marvel and storytelling. It is a grand display of idiosyncrasy.
The world that the “stitch punks” live in is pretty barren with nothing else left living. While the characters can indeed be enthralling, Acker does lose his way a little in the film’s direction. When you think about the plot in “9”; it makes very little sense. I found it hard to believe that ‘stitch punks’ #’s 1-8 never had the chance to try and figure out their reasons of being. # 7 also points out that there is a battle but none were visible (in the 1st act) save for one mechanical beast; which was by the way dispatched so easily up until the ‘awakening’ was brought into bear. I also found it hard to believe that there are no other surviving ‘organisms’; war is indeed horror but insects would always survive. Details were left out, giving the viewer several plot gaps to fill in.
The ‘stitch punks’ characterization seem to be presented as they know what to do, but they don’t know what and why they are there for. I found hard to buy the fact that these creatures were designed as the ‘hope for the future’ when they obviously were just contented to exist until events triggered by “9” managed to set things in motion. Time (and the passage of) needed to be more specific in the film to give the film’s plot needed credibility. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered such as; why did it take so long for “9” to awaken come along? How did the professor survive all those years? How many years have passed? The film’s final act attempts to explain everything that also gives a sense of the mystical but it doesn’t match its past groundwork. If they were meant to reignite the earth, then other things that you factor in such as the actions of the ‘mechanical monster-maker’ would serve no purpose (can't discuss this without really spoiling the movie). The film is all about belief, philosophy and destiny with no viable application or expediency.
The animation-work in “9” is nicely executed. The colors, set designs are no means something really groundbreaking but I did appreciate its style. It does convey a mood that matches the film’s tone. The film is also quite action-packed that action lovers will no doubt be entertained. The designs of the mechanical beasts were good, they mimic things that can be just freaky. The world of “9” is meticulously crafted. The film is a sci-fi mystery until things start to get moving, and the film becomes an actioner with plenty of swift although a bit repetitive movements. “7’s” moves become redundant after awhile.
“9” isn’t exactly a bad film but the film does feel too short and would benefited to be much longer. Acker’s storytelling had a lot of things going for it, but it just curiously stopped short in its execution and never realizes its journey. The ‘stitch punks’ were involved in a mystery that had some compelling things going for it but they just weren’t allowed to move around the depths of its core. Acker does rely too much on theatrics and never allows the viewer for a ‘nesting‘ stage to augment the wonder. The film is an average CGI-generated flick that may please those who like special-effects blockbusters but will turn off those who look for an intricate storyline. I appreciate brainless entertainment, but “9”pretends to have something deeper and ends up not fulfilling its promise. But “9” has its originality and vision. It is conscious that it is mighty eccentric and interesting; too bad the resolution is unsatisfying. 
Recommended with Caution, RENT IT first [3 Stars= Good/mixed bag]

Here's the actual short film:

Here's the trailer:

poster encounter awakening # 6 # 7 war

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October 25, 2010
I loved this one man, as did my girl. Excellent review WP, the look and feel of this one was great.
December 20, 2009
I agree. The animation was stunning, and I enjoyed the dystopian setting, but the plot holes were just too hard to ignore.
December 20, 2009
I feel that this full-length feature film was rushed and too short. The animated short was simply a great piece of animated creation; I guess someone wanted to capitalize on its success very quickly.
December 20, 2009
That's probably exactly what happened.
September 17, 2009
Sounds lie they took a stellar concept, but forgot to fill out the details when they turned it into a full-length feature. Maybe they should've developed their mythology in a series of short films or comic books before going all out on a film. Too bad. It was a really interesting idea and the visuals are amazing, but without a fleshed out story they fall by the wayside I guess.
September 18, 2009
Yeh. I hate it when they have the right tools, but for some reason, they just couldn't deliver and it appeared as if they bit off more than they could chew. The 9 short film should have just been expanded and not somewhat altered. I hate it when they try to force crowd-pleasing touches to any film...it just messes with everything.
September 18, 2009
I'm a big fan of the "Wallace & Gromit" short films and though these are in two completely different genres, I could see them doing a whole series of "9" short films before doing a full-length motion picture. Maybe they should have gone slowly and explored their characters and the ideas more before jumping into the long-haul.
September 18, 2009
This movie had lots of room for improvement. It was only a 79 minute movie, so it was incredibly short. I guess good ol'Hollywood wants to capitalize quickly on the success of the short film that they rushed this.
September 15, 2009
Excellent review. I wrote a somewhat shorter one a few minutes ago. We do agree on nearly all points, although I was totally enthralled while I watched it. It was only later, when I thought about it, that the plot holes appeared.
September 17, 2009
Thanks! This had some real nice animation and the characters were really interesting. It did have several plot missteps and some things didn't make sense (especially the logic behind the talisman and the final act). did you check out its short movie I uploaded? I'll be by to check out your review a bit later...
September 12, 2009
I wonder if my daughter is going to try and take the boys to see this one. Should I be trying to talk her out of it?
September 12, 2009
Well, it does have some freaky images and may be scary for a 6 to 9 year olds, but it is still a good animated movie for kids I think. Who knows, they may have more fun than I did. They can go I guess
September 12, 2009
They do get scared pretty easily, Alex in particular.
September 12, 2009
Great job as usual!! I have been slightly curious about this one but I think I'll either wait for the second run $1 theatre in my hometown or to rent it from Redbox. Thanks again!
September 12, 2009
This had a good sci-fi/ minor horror/fantasy bit but while it was real original, it didn't quite get to the impact right. It is better than Corpse Bride IMHO. Will be reviewing something that expands the joke about "The Therapist" in a horror movie. You know, put a space between the "E" and the 'R"...
September 12, 2009
I do like The Corpse Bride. For some reason, I was rather lukewarm to it when upon initial release but grew to love it on DVD. I still prefer Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas a bit more though I think.
September 12, 2009
This seems to be the general concensus surrounding the film.  It's visually stunning but everyone I've talked to says it doesn't quite deliver.  That's disappointing.  I might wait a while for this one then.  This is that slow time for the movies, it seems.  It'll pick up around the Holidays but I was really hoping 9 would be a bit more worthwhile.
September 12, 2009
Yeh. This was original and a welcome break from all the family-friendly flicks Pixar dishes out but sadly, it comes up a little too short. There are several plot missteps that required a lot of buying into and its screenplay left out too many details. The film should've been a 120 minute movie and not a 79 minute short film. It is a slow month for movies, I am looking forward to "Pandorum" somehow, it looks freaky.
More 9 reviews
review by . July 21, 2011
Essentially a feature-length expansion of the impressive short film that director Shane Acker created as a student project at UCLA, this CG cartoon is considerably better than its mild stateside reception might suggest. What it lacks in story and character development, 9 compensates for with an ingenious production design, extraordinary graphics and an endearing sincerity.      Set in a war-ravaged landscape devoid of organic life and inhabited by nine sentient, action figure-sized …
review by . March 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
 9 is a post-apocalyptic film where the human race was entirely destroyed by stronger, and more intelligent machines that completely blew to pieces any army the world could come up with. But just before his death a scientist tries to keep the world going, so he creates nine rag dolls that come alive, and can talk. #1 (Christopher Plummer) is the obvious leader of the group, and knowing that they have no chance at defeating the great machine monters he insists on hiding until the one day that …
review by . November 06, 2009
I heard about "9" like most people did, sitting a dark movie theater waiting for my movie to play. And as I was waiting a quaint and dark little trailer started to roll it showed a bombed out city and as I watched I became more and more intrigued at the premise of the film and the dark, Gothic style it infused with the brilliant and breathtaking animation. But I didn't see it it until about a month later and now I'm regretting not having seen it while it was in theaters, Shane Acker and …
review by . September 15, 2009
Not sure whether this is about the world of the future, or the world of another dimension.  Could be either.  Human beings have been wiped out by evil machines.  The only life left are numbered "rag dolls", basically another form of machine.  9 comes to life, and meets the other "rag dolls", who cower in fear of the beast.  I don't want to give the entire plot away, but the rag dolls learn much that is human from the various difficulties that 9 causes …
review by . July 15, 2010
As a Tim Burton fan, I had high hopes for this adaptation of the short "9."  The style of animation and character design was intriguing, the marketing was exciting, and there was a good cast of well-known actors. Sadly, there isn't enough material for me to consider this a successful film.  There seems to be a clear lack of dialogue in the script, which could have made for a more compelling plot, but instead we are left with many of the characters just staring …
review by . November 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
With an award winning, Oscar nominated animator at its helm and the names of Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov attached, this movie was always going to have a lot of expectation surrounding it. Sadly, I felt it didn't quite live up to its potential. Although, that's not to say the film is a total letdown. Quite the opposite in fact. There's much to admire and enjoy here.      The design and animation work is extremely impressive; some of the best I've seen in any animated movie.  …
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A good allegory of the many facets of are humanity and how important they all are.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It's a shame that 9 didn't get the hype it deserved for the way it makes you think. The short run-time might be a hint as to why.
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
This film is not well known in the animated world, but everyone should give it a try. Its dark and edgy and just keeps you up throughout the whole sequence.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A film about puppets. Everyone has their own take on it, so watch it and get your own opinion.
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William ()
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About this movie


9 is a 2009 computer-animated science fantasy thriller film directed by Shane Acker and produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov. The film starsElijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau and Christopher Plummer It is based on Acker's Academy Award-nominated 2005 short film of the same name. The screenplay for the film was written by Pamela Pettler, with casting by Mindy Marin, production design by Robert St. Pierre and Fred Warter, and art direction by Christophe Vacher.

Nine small rag dolls, stitched together from burlap and clock workings and lenses, are all that stands in the way of the world being overtaken by the Machines. Actually, as9begins, it looks like the Machines have already had their way with Earth: this is one of those post-apocalyptic landscapes without life, hope, or sunlight. Clearly9director Shane Acker is willing to make an animated film that doesn't soar with Disney colors or Pixar cheer--in fact, main characters are killed off before the movie's halfway through. Our hero is 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), so dubbed for the number on his back; after awakening to very confused consciousness, he bumps into other puppet survivors, such as the imperious 1 (Christopher Plummer), the warrior-like 7 (Jennifer Connelly), and the one-eyed comic sidekick 5 (John C. Reilly). They do battle with the Machines in...
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Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: September 9, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 19min
Studio: Universal Studios, Focus Features
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