Voice Actors: Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connolly, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer
Director: Shane Acker
Screenplay: Pamela Pettler
Producers: Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov
Released: Alliance Films (2009)
Genre: Animated; Adventure
Shane Acker created a short film in university involving burlap rag dolls come to life in a post apocalyptic world. He ended up getting an Oscar nomination for his efforts. After the likes of Tim Burton, Timur Kenmambetov, and others took notice of his talent, Acker found himself tasked with turning that short film into a feature length motion picture. He and his team did a great job by the looks of it.
9 is esthetically grim in appearance, but the film is charming all the same. With a motley crew of tiny burlap robots rummaging through a wasteland left in the wake of a war between man and machines, the film tells the story of how one--in this case 9, voiced by Elijah Wood--leads the ramshackle remainders on a quest to save themselves and stop the mechanical monstrosities that are hunting them down.
A single frame of the movie gives a clear view of why Tim Burton hopped on board this project. The whole look and feel of the film is right up his alley, and if not for learning before hand that this was the dream child of Shane Acker, I'd have bet anything it had sprung from Burton's own mind. That blending of macabre with the lovable is executed very well in the film. It helped keep me engaged during the few moments when the story didn't.
While the characters, at face value, seem simple archetype characters, the shallowness is mostly thwarted by the voice talents of John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, and Jennifer Connolly. Elijah Wood and Crispin Glover did well enough too, but with them I felt like they were doing cartoon voices of characters they'd already played in the past. Heck, I imagine Glover is the go-to guy in Hollywood when they want a weird guy to portray an even weirder guy.
To see a trailer for the movie, you might think it's a bit too dark and sinister for your little ones to watch. I'd say it'd be fine if you were watching it with them. It's only on the surface level that it might appear frightening, and I think the tykes will appreciate an animated movie that kind of stands out from the others. There's enough humor in between the melancholy and suspense to break the tension and the film as a whole proved to be a very fun thrill ride.
9 is probably the best animated movie I've seen since Wall-E, but I haven't seen a great many since then and I wonder if I'd be as into this film a second time around. Time will tell, I suppose.