When 9 first comes to life, he finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world. All humans are gone, and it is only by chance that he discovers a small community of others like him taking refuge from fearsome machines that roam the earth intent on their extinction. Despite being the neophyte of the group, 9 convinces the others that hiding will do them no good.
The first time I heard about 9 and found out that Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov were co-producing it, I was absolutely on board to see it. Anything that the guy who directed such quirky masterpieces as Beetlejuice, Batman, Mars Attacks!, Ed Wood, and Sleepy Hollow got behind had to be worthy of my time. And then you add the genius of Russian director Timur Bekmambetov to the mix and to me it was a no brainer. I was going to see this movie. Burton AND the guy that has brought us such visually complex and action-packed fare as Wanted, Night Watch, and Day Watch supporting a movie? It had to be good.
And it was. Director Shane Acker borrows maybe a little more than he should have visually from other such apocalyptic films like Terminator and even Wall-E, but it doesn’t end up hurting the film by any means. The scenery and landscapes of the film are beautifully crafted and set everything up for a certain feeling of loneliness and hopelessness. It’s more graphic and suspenseful than any children’s or youth feature you would take your kids to, so definitely don’t let the fact that this is animated fool you. This is not for the little ones.
The voice actors all put their best foot forward and deliver. You’ve got Elijah Wood as 9, once again convincingly leading a group of survivors in what seems to be an unwinnable war against a much larger foe than they could be expected to defeat. You’ve got Christopher Plummer playing 1 as an interesting paranoid “keeper of the secrets” which reminded me of the Dr. Zaius character in the original Planet of the Apes films, if you’ve seen any of those. Legendary actor Martin Landau plays 2, who is a scientist and fixes 9. Then there’s Jennifer Connelly, who plays the strong-willed and rebellious 7 who has left the core group of “stitchpunks” to get away from under all of 1’s rules. Last but not least, you’ve got Crispin Glover playing the slightly obsessed and seemingly crazy 6 who has been drawing strange symbols since the big war between the humans and machines.
The film had an interesting plot that got a bit more complex in the end. Part of the complexity had a spiritual vibe to it that I didn’t necessarily care for. It just seemed almost out of place and like the director was stretching for something that would make the film more “sophisticated.” I was not disappointed in the movie by any means. It was a visually striking piece of film. It was action-packed and fun without dumbing down the story or sacrificing it. If you’re into sci-fi, apocalyptic thrillers, and animation I would highly recommend this.