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  • 2009
  • PG-13
  • 79min
  • 57%
  • 7.1 / 10

After a dictator programs an armature to exterminate all of Earth’s population – all human, plant, animal and microbial life – with toxic gas and chemical weapons, a scientist uses alchemy to create nine homunculus-like rag dolls called “stitchpunks’, leaving portions of his own soul in their talismans. These stitchpunks come to life and must work together to destroy the machine that had exterminated all life on earth.

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movie facts

9 was originally a computer-animated short film created by Shane Acker. The film was Acker’s student project in the University of California, Los Angeles Animation Workshop. It won five awards, namely: Student Academy Award’s Gold Award for Animation, SIGGRAPH’s Best in Show, Animex’s First Prize in 3D Animation, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation College Award’s First Prize in Non-traditional Animation, and the Florida Film Festival’s Best Animated Short. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. As the accolades began to pile, eccentric horror-fantasy director Tim Burton saw the short film and was impressed by Acker’s artistic vision. Burton went on to produce a feature-length adaptation, signing Acker as the director and Corpse Bride’s Pamela Pettler as the scriptwriter.

9 movie review

9 is set in an exquisite post-apocalyptic wasteland. The film is dazzling and unflinching but vapid.  The animated short-turned-feature-length film does little for its characters. It does, however, pay close attention to the technical and visual aspects that made it such a good short film.

Viewers will see that all living beings - humans, animals, and microbes - no longer exist on Earth. The only hope for the Earth is at the hands of nine rag dolls imbued with different facets of their creator's soul. As each of the dolls diverge, each must choose between fear or courage to find their purpose on Earth. However, it is Elijah Wood's character, 9, that discovers that they don't need to choose one over the other. He discovers that one can be courageous and thoughtful. In fact, there are no conflicts in any of the rag dolls nor their enemies. Both the rag dolls and robots have a one-dimensional personality throughout the film. Viewers can stare in awe of the world the rag-dolls have created for themselves to survive. They take tiny trinkets and repurpose them into delightful and inspiring tools. Yet, they fail to show any curiosity or conflict in their tiny world.  It is possible that the first eight rag dolls grow accustomed to their world. It is then up to 9 to bridge the gap between their world and Earth. However, 9 is not as special as the video presentation of his origin says he is.

In the end, 9's characters seem to be in a loop. They go to save their own kind, but fail to do so. Hence, they run away to survive. Then, another one of the rag dolls gets taken, so they have to save their own kind, succeed, and run away to survive. Regardless, viewers should watch 9 for its pitch-perfect visual and sound design.


about the movie

9 (2009) is an American computer-animated science fiction film based on its director’s, Shane Acker, Academy Award-nominated short film of the same name. The film is written by Pamela Pettler, and produced by Jim Lemley, Tim Burton, Timur Bekmambetov, and Dana Ginsburg. Its titular role is voiced by Elijah Wood, alongside the voices of John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, and Fred Tatasciore. Film critic, Roger Ebert, calls the film 'beautifully animated and intriguingly unwholesome. . . nevertheless worth seeing'. A consensus on the review aggregation site, Rotten Tomatoes, states: “9 is visually spectacular, and director Shane Acker's attention to detail succeeds in drawing viewers into the film's universe.'