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

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9 may fail when it comes to story, but it is still visually stunning

  • Mar 29, 2011

 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 the final machine dies. Whether the group disagrees or agrees with #1's plan, they must have a leader so most of them go along with the plan. However, the last rag doll created is #9 (Elijah Wood) and he is not used to the group's ways. Then before he is discovered he is met by #2 (Martin Landua) who is almost instantly taken off by the machine beast. When #9 reports this to the group #1 says that there is no hope for #2 and that he must be left alone so the rest can be safe. But this does not satisfy #9 as he believes they should fight for their friends, and over time he convinces the clan that their only hope in surviving is to stand up and fight the machines. Only later will they learn why these machines are after them, and that the future of the world rests in their hands.

9 is a film that I have been wanting to see for awhile, and I suppose I can say it lived up to my expectations. It was produced by Tim Burton obviously, which even though he has had some excellent films seeing his name worried me a bit. Whether he is the director, producer, or just associated with the film in some way it always seems to have some sick twist to it. And even though I enjoy plenty of strange films, when I sit down to watch a little animated film, Tim Burton just isn't the name I am looking for. But I am here to say that 9 is actually a quite enjoyable film, though I would not go as far as seeing this with young children, because I can assure you there are scenes that will be very frightening to children, mainly the younger ones. I have to say this turns out to be a problem I think; if 9 is a pg-13 film more for adults than children then the story nearly fails, which is why I did not rate this higher. The story here is just all too familiar to the audience. I mean here we go, man makes machine to help increase technology and make the world a better place, but the very intelligent machines get too smart and take over destroying man kind. That just seems like a story I have heard more than once. The funny thing though, is that the director Shane Acker actually made an eleven minute short version before this, and from what I have read Tim Burton came along and wanted to make a longer version of it, so they did. And I am glad that they did, but the problem is the longer version just was not long enough. The film is only 80 minutes, which just hurts it more because the familiar story is underdeveloped. By the time the film ended I didn't even feel like I had watched a full length movie, and that was 9's biggest and most obvious flaw to me.

However, other than that 9 is a very good animated movie. It was back in 2005 that I first saw or heard about this film, and I immediately wanted to see it. I absolutely love the style of animation, and it really seemed like a good movie to me. But for whatever reason I forgot about it entirely, and it wasn't until just the other day when I saw it coming on HBO that I watched it. But despite the mixed reviews this film received, my exectations were still pretty high for the movie. And I can gladly say I really did enjoy this film. It has honestly one of my favorite animation styles, the characters are made so brilliantly, and it is amazing every move they make in the film. All of their facial expressions are very life-like, and that is saying something considering they were rag dolls. It isn't just your basic computer animation, and it was really quite worth the watch only to see how well animated this film was.

The film also had a surprisingly good script, and the vocal cast was very good. I cannot say I am much of an Elijah Wood fan other than The Lord of the Rings, but I thought he did a wonderful job here. It is always a pleasure to watch a movie with Christopher Plummer, whether he is actually in it, or just voicing a character, and he was perfect for the part of #1. Jennifer Connelly is another actress that always seems to do a fine job with her roles, and the acting here by everyone may not have been the best I have ever seen in an animated film, but it really was good acting. I enjoyed the musical score as well, which is another thing I have come to expect from any movie wth Tim Burton's name.

Overall, 9 suffers its way down to a 70% rating with one big, and very obvious flaw. The story is underdeveloped, too short and way too familiar to the audience. Even with the story being as it is, it would have been nice to at least have a longer film. But other than that 9 is top notch as far as animated films go. The soundtrack is very good, and the script worked well too. It has an excellent vocal cast, and the animation was just plain brilliance. If you can get past the failing story, 9 is actually a very well made film.

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March 29, 2011
well written review. Loved the way you included the musical scores. Oh, think your last sentence is missing some words...maybe the copy and paste didn't take all the way?
March 29, 2011
Thanks! Yeah, I just saw that and fixed it. Thanks for letting me know!
March 31, 2011
btw, this review has been featured in Movie Hype ;)
More 9 reviews
review by . September 12, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
         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 …
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 . 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.
About the reviewer
Matt Stewart ()
Ranked #223
Basically all anyone would need to know about me is I love movies. I watch movies, review them, and I can always enjoy a good, long talk about the art of film making.
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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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