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9

SYNOPSIS:
A small rag doll #9 (voice of Elijah Wood) finds himself in a nihilistic, post-apocalyptic world where fearsome machines roam and destroy everything. After stumbling upon a group of rag dolls hiding in fear, #9 rallies the miniature warriors together for an epic battle against the machine, discovering in the process the real intentions of their inventors, and the meaning of their own existence.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
As the promotional material promises, 9 pushes the technology of animation to new creative heights, offering an extensive menu of visual delights, invention and imagination. The depth of detail is exceptional and totally captivating ... for much of the film. But after a while it seems more like an animation showcase of wonders than a genuine cinematic story. Cobbling together a set of clichés as the vehicle for its adventure in animation, 9 starts with the dark skies and rubble strewn landscape of a post apocalyptic world.

We later learn that it has come to this after man made machines went feral and we see from leftovers that a ruler, once referred to as the Chancellor, had perverted the machine invention of a well meaning scientist - after which the machines took over and annihilated mankind. The miniature rag dolls that are left, they eventually discover along with us, are each parts of that scientist's soul. Without soul, the world is doomed. As I say, a bit trite, if well meaning. Within the group of renegade dolls the human characteristics of cowardice, responsibility and courage are replicated, again in a rather too familiar template.

The bravado animation is often allowed to run amok with action scenes, so that we can't follow the action, as it were and the high calibre voice cast is sometimes left to languish in wordless expressions of surprise or straining effort, which reminds me of Japanese animation techniques (and not favourably).

Stronger story elements and more subtle sense of voice direction would have served this film well, lifting it out of the novelty basket into the 'repeat viewing' batch.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

9 (M)
(US, 2009)

VOICES: Elijah Wood, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer, Tom Kane, Alan Oppenheimer

PRODUCER: Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov

DIRECTOR: Shane Acker

SCRIPT: Pamela Pettler (story by Shane Acker)

EDITOR: Nick Kenway

MUSIC: Deborah Lurie

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert St Pierre, Fred Warter

RUNNING TIME: 79 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 9, 2009







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