9 takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where mankind has been fallen victim to its own inventions and has been wiped out by machines. Into this world awakes 9 a stitchpunk (rag-doll) created by a now dead scientist. He ventures out to explore this strange new world and encounters a small community of others like him. These others are taking refuge from fearsome, hostile machines who are heel-bent on wiping them out. Despite being the newcomer, 9 convinces the others that hiding will do them no good and that they must discover why the machines seek to destroy them.
This is the feature length debut for director Shane Acker, expanding on his award-winning short which was also titled 9. Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov and The Nightmare Before Christmas creator Tim Burton are on-hand in producing roles to offer guidance and assistance. The voice cast is superb: Elijah Wood as the hero 9, Fred Tatasciore as the enforcer 8, Jennifer Connelly as the brave warrior (and only female) 7, Crispin Glover as the visionary 6, John C. Reilly as the fixer 5, Martin Landau as the inventor/explorer 2 and Christopher Plummer as 1, the self-declared leader of the group. The stitchpunks 3 and 4, who are twins, don’t talk but instead catalogue everything they can see and find.
Visually this movie is quite possibly the greatest computer-generated animation ever seen. It sparkles and glistens and looks just oh-so-good. The needlework of the stitchpunks is sublime while the rustiness of the machines and depressive feel of the surroundings is wonderfully counter-balanced by the sheer pace of the action sequences. And by golly does the action move! The whole film feels like one continuous action sequence, reminiscent of Run Lola Run in a way, and will live you gasping for breath by the end of it. There are some genuinely frightening scenes in there too, so be mindful if you’re bringing the kids or are frail of heart.
As I stated in my recent review of Disney/Pixar’s UP, what makes truly great movies great is all in the story. Unfortunately this is the biggest single fault with this particular movie. The narrative is sadly lacking and there is no cohesive plot to follow. However the sheer frantic, fast-paced nature of the film coupled with the sublime visuals ensures that this flaw does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.