9 - An Alliance Films’ Release
Release Date: September 9th, 2009
Rated PG for action, peril and some disturbing images.
Running time: 79 minutes
Shane Acker (dir.)
Pamela Pettler (screenplay)
Shane Acker (story)
Deborah Lurie, Danny Elfman (music)
Elijah Wood as 9
John C. Reilly as 5
Jennifer Connelly as 7
Christopher Plummer as 1
Crispin Glover as 6
Martin Landau as 2
Fred Tatasciore as 8 / Radio Announcer
Alan Oppenheimer as The Scientist
Tom Kane as Dictator
Helen Wilson as Newscaster
#9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), #7 (voiced by Jennifer Connelly), and #5 (voiced by John C. Reilly) face peril in Shane Acker's epic adventure fantasy 9, which Alliance Films' releases nationwide on 9/9/09.
Our reviews below:
9 Review By John C.
**** (out of 4)
9 is the kind of film that after it ends, you want to watch it again. When the first World War was ending, machines were created to better humanity. When the machines turned against the humans, a scientist gave his life to create 9 little creatures that hold the key to the future.
The animation, most of which was done at the Toronto based Starz Animation Studio, is amazing. The images are strikingly original, and it’s battles between various mechanical creatures are spectacularly elaborate.
The action scenes are totally awesome. Each creature they battle is created out of sharp pieces of metal and animal bones or, like The Seamstress, a severed doll’s head.
This definitely isn’t for young kids, people really should take into consideration the American rating of PG-13. The fight scenes are genuinely suspenseful, and some of the images are quite frightening.
The story line is brilliant. Not everything is explained in the film, but if you pay attention and think about it, it’s very elaborate and well thought through.
The voice acting by the stellar cast is magnificent. Elijah Wood as 9 brings a genuine innocence and likability to the role. Christopher Plummer is amazing as 1, as is Martin Landou as 2. The antics of the non-verbal twins, 3 & 4, are what give those characters their unique personality. John C. Reily is 5, Crispin Glover appropriately plays 6, Jennifer Connely is the warrior-like 7, and Fred Tatasciore plays the muscle of the group, 8.
In terms of animated films, it could be compared to Coraline. Pamela Pettler who helped pen the script for this, also co-wrote Monster House, which is another film that this could be compared to. The way that the character’s eyes express emotion reminded me of WALL•E.
Shane Acker’s original short film is also brilliant. This film does nothing but add to and enhance his original vision. I thought the ending for both films was surprisingly emotionally resonant and very touching.
I thought the film was just hauntingly beautiful. It’s story line and dark visuals are completely captivating from beginning to end. At only 79 minutes, it doesn’t feel too long or too short. It’s simply perfect. This is an amazing film that really should be seen at a theatre. It’s right up there with Coraline and Up as one of the best animated films of the year.
9 Review By Erin V.
**** (out of 4)
9 follows the story of the title character 9, who, when he meets others like him, helps them to band together to destroy the machines that have wiped out life on Earth.
While the film of 9 has been met with some mixed reviews, I absolutely loved it. It follows a similar story to the short film, with only minor changes to what was in the original short. Unlike in the short, where we only saw 9, and 5, here we are shown all of the characters 1 through 9.
One of the complaints about the film I have heard is that it is too light on story - I beg to differ... Yes, a lot is not explained, but with a good imagination, the rest can be filled in. Essentially, we start out with only what the characters know, and find out more along with them as the story progresses. In some ways, it is almost like an extended short itself. The movie follows more of the format that most shorts have, in which we are mostly just following along in real time, at a life-changing moment in the characters' lives. The film itself is only 79 minutes long, so this format really works here.
Another complaint is that it is too dark on story - especially for children. Let me just address this and warn you now. Don't bring kids under maybe 11 or 12 to this one. (PG-13 in the USA and PG in CA.) They will find it scary, and you will be able to concentrate more if you see it yourself. The thing is, is that just because it's animated, people assume that it should be for children. But if this was a film in any other medium, with this kind of post-apocalyptic storyline, there would be no question or argument that it should have been toned down for kids. You see, this movie is dark, but it is effective because of the way the story is told, as a matter of fact, having seen the original short, I didn't expect anything different. It won't be for everyone, but it is brilliant in it's execution.
The voice cast was all great. Christopher Plummer is the cautious leader of the group 1, Martin Landau is the inventor 2, John C. Reilly is 9's one-eyed friend 5, Crispin Glover is artist 6, Jennifer Connelly is warrior 7, Fred Tatasciore is 8 - the muscle who backs up 1, and finally Elijah Wood is the 'curious to find answers leader' 9. Interestingly enough, 9 reminded me, in personality, of Elijah Wood's character in Happy Feet. (Just a note, I didn't miss anyone, as 3 and 4 are the mute twins, so obviously don't have voice actors behind them. Although their nonverbal communication, both between each other and with the other characters, is so fun to watch on screen, thanks to the animators.)
And speaking of the animators, they all did a great job - at Starz animation in Toronto, ON, CA in fact. This would definitely be deserving of some Annie awards come the end of the year. The world was so intricate, and the characters - especially in battle sequences - move so fluidly and well. The lighting and textures are quite realistic at times and the sound artists helped to bring the scenes to life in a great way. The music in the film, by Deborah Lurie, and Danny Elfman, fits/sets the mood perfectly.
In conclusion, I found the film 9 to be paced well, acted well, visually astounding, and suspenseful to watch. Not once did this film drag for me. It follows an interesting storyline, with elements of mystery to it, and all 9 of the characters manage to have their own unique personalities. Anyone interested in film, or animation, will definitely want to check this one out. A unique and brilliant film. Meant to be seen on the big screen, it's more than worth the price of admission.
9 Review By Nicole
**** (out of 4)
9 is a unique and visually stunning animated film. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic 1940's, where the only surviving creatures are nine small rag dolls known as "stitchpunks". Man made machines have destroyed every living thing on the planet, but before humans went extinct, one scientist created the tiny stitchpunks to withstand the now violent and polluted planet. One of the stitchpunks, 9, is left hanging in the lab. When he discovers another stitchpunk, 2, he follows him. What 9 discovers, is that he is not alone. As well as other stitchpunks, there are dangerous, stitchpunk eating machines around. Things get really out of hand when 9 accidentally unleashes a giant, metal monster. Now it is up to 9 and the other stitchpunks to stop the machine from destroying them.
Based on Shane Acker's 2004 silent animated short film, 9 is an entirely original film. The story is excellent, and the all star cast is really good. The score by Danny Elfman and Deborah Lurie. is both exciting and suspenseful. The underlying messages in the film are really powerful as well.
One of the things I really liked was the look of the stitchpunks. they are cute and appealing, but still have a very mature feel. It should be noted that while the stitchpunks may be cute, 9 is in no way a children's film. There are far too many frightening and sad moments in this movie for anyone under at at least 10 to be able to handle. However, 9 is an excellent film for older children, teens, and adults.
An added bonus is that much of the animation was done at Starz Animation in Toronto. It was cool to see some of the animation crew sitting in front of me at the theatre.
9 is an excellent film that an older audience should definitely see.
9 Review By Maureen
***1/2 (out of 4)
9 is a superbly crafted animated film. The meticulous attention to detail, the tactile quality of the 9 characters and the darker colour tones and lighting make 9 a real visual treat.
Don't be fooled however by the rag-doll appearance of 9 and the other "stitchpunk" creatures. 9 is not a children's animated film. The storyline about out of control machines destroying humanity between World War I and II, is dark and frightening at times. What keeps this film from being totally dark re the 9 unique characters of each of the rag-doll like creatures. Characters 1 through 9 form a bond with one another with 9 at the lead. Together they try to fight the monstrous super machine that is trying to destroy them.
As dark and post-apocalyptic as 9 is, it is an amazing film to watch. The visuals are stunning, the voice acting excellent and the music score fits perfectly. With a running time of about 79 minutes, 9 is just the right length. Director Shane Acker has done an excellent job in transforming his original award winning short film 9 to a feature length film.
If you are an animation fan 9 is a must-see on the big screen. Watch for this one come awards time.
9 Review By Tony
***1/2 (out of 4)
9 is an animated fantasy epic based on the 2004 short film by director Shane Acker, with a screenplay by Pamela Pettler and produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov. The human population has been wiped out in a war taken over by machines. One of the chief scientists whose work had been stolen by warlords managed before dying to create 9 small (about 20 cm) humanoids out of burlap with camera lens eyes whose combined talents he hoped would preserve civilization against the war machines. Though dismissed at first as naive, the newcomer 9 (Elijah Wood) insists he can lead the others in fighting back. Despite resistance from 1 (Christopher Plummer), the entrenched leader and 8 (Fred Tatasciore), his dumb oversized enforcer with a face like Bonhomme Michelin, 9 finds support from 2 (Martin Landau), an aged inventor, 5 (John C. Reilly), an eyepatched engineer and guide through the rubble, 7 (Jennifer Connelly), a white ninja with a raptor-beaked helmet, 3 & 4, the nonverbal twin librarians conserving what’s left of collective memory, and 6 (Crispin Glover), a striped artist with pens for fingers obsessively drawing symbols that will prove useful.
With animation produced at Starz Animation, Toronto, 9 is technically brilliant. The post apocalyptic world created is in the style known as “steampunk”, (also seen recently in City of Ember) with early 20th century technology that is heavily mechanical and electrical compared to today’s hidden electronics. The war machines are as complex and terrifying as the monsters in Aliens, and the battle sequences, though elaborately constructed, avoid the numbing excesses of Transformers. The back story provided by a library newsreel is evocative of World War 1 and the subsequent mobilization of the Third Reich, with a chilling image of poison gas leaving the population dead in their tracks. The strong musical score by Deborah Lurie has themes by Danny Elfman. Highly recommended, but far too dark for small kids.
Consensus: 9 is a visually stunning, darkly beautiful animated film, that's incredibly interesting and unique in terms of storytelling and style. Though not for young kids, for everyone else this is an animated gem. ***3/4 (Out of 4)
9, voiced by Elijah Wood, is confronted by the Replication Machine in Shane Acker’s 9, which Alliance Films releases nationwide on 9.09.09.