When 9 (Elijah Wood) wakes up in a post-apocalyptic world, before he can even speak, he must fight to survive. Through his journey, he runs into 5 (John C. Reilly), another of his kind, that takes him to a refuge where others have been hiding. At the refuge he is greeted by 1 (Christopher Plummer), the leader of the nine who have survived by hiding and has no intent of changing his ways. After 2 (Martin Landau) is taken by a robotic cat, it is up to 9 to convince this reclusive group that they must stop hiding and fight.
9 is a wonderfully animated film and if you take it for just it’s story and nothing else you will come out thinking you have seen a good movie, but that’s not what makes 9 the great movie it is. The symbolism and commentary of 9 is what makes it great. The film covers everything from politics to religion and isn’t shy about either topic. 9, along with UP, are showing that we can expect more from these animated romps and can take more than “don’t talk to strangers” away from an animated film.
Writer/Director Shane Acker was given the task to turn his 11min short into a deep and all encompassing film. At times it does feel a bit rushed and I would have loved to have gotten a little more back story on each of the characters, but we only end up seeing the drive of a few. Over all, the film does work and what it lacks in back story it makes up in stunning visuals.
This go around, Acker left the voiceless doll at home and got some great actors to voice the characters. Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Sin City) is the voice of 9, a character that has known so little of life that he has no fear of losing it. The calming voice of Wood encompasses this idea brilliantly as I never really felt that 9 was a hero out of necessity, but rather acted as he did because he didn’t know any other way to be.
The complete opposite of this is 1, voiced by Christopher Plummer (Annie, UP). 1 is the oldest of the 9 and carries the most fear and anger. His fear drives him to do what he thinks is right for his fellow refuges and it is 9’s job to show him that he is wrong. 1 is where we get most of our religious dialog; he hides in a church, dresses like the pope and pushes his values through fear.
These aspects of the film are where it shines in my eyes. Not only do we get the commentary on religion, but we also have a nice insight on on the danger of technology and a look back on the invention of the atomic bomb. It’s nice to have the summer finally end and movies with intelligence start to emerge. I would have liked 9 to go deeper into these aspects and make a stance on either side of the debate, but the little that we do get is welcome.
I do want to warn parents that 9 has images of the dead that may frighten younger children, but with caution I do feel children are welcome. I encourage people to go in with an open mind and just enjoy 9.
I give 9 four “Magnets are the drugs of the future” out of five.
by Ryan Davis