Director: Shane Acker
Starring: Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Fred Tatasciore
Studio: Focus Features
Rated: PG-13(For violence and scary images)
We’ve had a very good year for animation. Pixar wowed us again with their brilliance, Miyazaki reminded us what it was to have the heart of a child, and “Coraline” was an acid trip into Henry Sellicks mind (someplace you don’t always want to be). Now we have “9,” a post-apocalyptic cartoon that is meant for adults. And when I say adults I truly mean it. Appropriately rated PG-13, the movie is a full length adaptation of a short film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. The storyline revolves around a doll creature named 9, who comes alive one day to discover the world is in ruins and machines rule the land. He runs into other dolls who are numbered just like him.
These dolls all fill him in on what’s happened in the world. Some want to fight the machines while others want to hide. The original short was directed by Shane Acker who returns as director here. He is joined by producer Tim Burton who was impressed by the short and - more importantly - is the only man in Hollywood with the power to help sell a movie like this. Truly I’m impressed the film got made at all. It’s a dark movie that is not made for kids, it’s something that does not look cute, and these movies are difficult to sell. Even “Titan A.E.” failed to deliver at the box office and that movie WAS suitable for family audiences! Will the teens and adults pay to see this?
Who knows? I’m certain Focus Features has similar concerns. Why else would they hire Christopher Plummer (1), Martin Laundau (2), John C. Riley (5), Crispin Glover (6), Jennifer Connelly (7), Fred Tatasciore (8), and Elijah Wood (9) for reasons other then that they can at least sell the actors (by the way: 3 & 4 are silent characters). In fact, the movie might have been more interesting if the characters had been silent (with the exception of the doctor, who has to deliver the obligatory “what the heck happened to Earth” speech). Visually this film delivers on every conceivable level. The world is creative and very bleak. We’ve certainly never seen American animation create a world this hostile before.
That’s also where the praise is going to end though because the story is pretty thin and the characters unrelateable. Considering all the bad things happen as a result of the protagonist being an idiot, it’s amazing the film didn’t get on my nerves sooner. If all this movie had was the script I’d have tossed it before the second act. Thanks to the visuals I was fairly engaged throughout the film. Still...that’s not really a recommendation. Was I ever bored? No, but then, it also didn’t really leave much of a past-the-parking lot experience for me either.
Parents who don't worry themselves with violence too much won't be too concerned about this movie, which is mostly violent with just a small amount of language. Recommended for ages 14 and up.