9 is a strange little animated film, and I really had no idea what I was getting into when I went. Basically it is a dark, animated Terminator for kids. Machines took over the world and went to war with man and in the post-apocalyptic world that is left, a small group of burlap sack dolls wages a final battle against the Machine that killed the world.
I went thinking it was a Tim Burton movie, and he is credited as a producer, but it is directed by Shane Acker, who co-wrote the screenplay as well. Apparently, 9 started off as a short, for which Mr. Acker received an Oscar nomination and won the Student Academy Award (UCLA) in 2005. I’m not sure if there are many successful feature films expanded from shorts. I think it’s probably like trying to make a novel from a short story; sometimes the idea really deserves to be short. Which is not to say it is a bad film. But I am not sure it is appropriate for little kids as there is a lot of violence, war, death and destruction. And the story may not be something they (or many of the adults in the audience) can understand. Visually though, it is stunning. I would like to see the short to see where it began and how much of it is Tim Burton, because it feels quite Burtonesque. (Then again, that might just be the reason he got involved with it in the first place.)
Where it is really lacking though is the script. Burton usually makes films where you care about his quirky characters and are engaged in their story. This story is not all that original; it is kind of a Terminator meets Lord of the Rings meets some video game. And the characters are pretty underdeveloped. Sure it is a cartoon, but you can tell that the focus was on the visuals which are very impressive and the story was kind of given short shrift.
I would wait until it is out on DVD or on HBO. It really isn’t a must see.
Top shelf voice talents: Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connelly.