‘9’ is a visually stunning animated movie that sets the stage for an epic story but sadly fails to deliver in the end. Set in a post apocalyptic world where mankind has engaged in another civilization ending war with machines, ‘9’ brings something new to the table. Instead of a band of a handful of human survivors, the fate of the rebirth of the world rests with the titular ‘9’.
What are the ‘9’? They are a collection of individually unique yet similar rag doll type characters each with a numeral, 1 – 9, on their back. Hence the ‘9.’ Each character is bestowed with a unique design and characteristics so there is never an issue differentiating between them. They are beautifully realized and come across like highly detailed versions of the characters that one sees in the PS3 video game, ‘Little Big Planet.’
To further differentiate the ‘9’, some high powered voice casting has been employed. In the titular role is Elijah Woods. While the casting of Elijah is understandable, I felt his presence ultimately worked against the movie as he fed into the conceit that the picture was heading for a Lord of the Rings epic goal. Plus the 9 character was a little too on the nose as a Frodo clones. Other notables rounding out the cast include Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, and Jennifer Connelly.
The desolation of the destroyed world is artfully rendered and special mention must be made of the machines that are created to hunt down the 9. They are an amalgamation of totally disparate items and are created based on animal forms most sure to alarm. One that is in essence a snake with a doll’s head is especially loathsome. In fact these designs are so frightful that parents should be cautioned that younger children in the 5 – 9 age group may find them too overpowering.
Overall, 9 is a visually stunning film. It is a film poised somewhere between children and adult markets. It intrigues with its unique set of design aesthetics but frustrates due to its paucity of story depth.