Retro Review: 9

Animator Shane Acker blew the minds of the Motion Picture Academy in 2005 with his 10-minute short film “9” (watch it HERE ). The film won the Best Animated Short Oscar and that caught the eye of Tim Burton who helped Shane turn “9” into a feature film.

The story behind “9” is that man has been wiped out by a war with machines and nine little creations from man’s last inventor are trying to survive in the war’s aftermath. The ninth creation, “9” holds the key to man’s survival if he only knew where he left it.

Each one of the nine creations has a distinct personality. “One” is bossy, opinionated and protective. “Two” is a tinker and healer. “Three” & “Four” are twins who thrive on knowledge and study. “Five” represents friendship and family. “Six” is madness and secrets. “Seven” is agility and a warrior. “Eight” is strength and One’s bodyguard. “Nine” well he is still trying to figure that out but he could just be their salvation.

That is basically the story of “9”, except you have these 9 intricate, beautifully shaped and curious creatures who must dodge metal dogs, fight off a mechanized giant octopus like creature and unlock Nine’s secret.

The film is visually stunning. The original short was a landmark short film and has now been expanded to feature length.  But I just loved the atmosphere the film depicts as you are introduced to the world ravaged by war and these little creatures fight to survive. I also have to admire the project for how original and creative it is. It reminded me some of District 9’s unique way of taking so many parts of things we have seen before and blending them into something so original.

I really got into how each little creature was was distinct and how their characters were devoloped. I just wish we learned more about their conception and why they looked like warped sock monkeys with goggles. Were these the only spare parts the inventor had?

I also really enjoyed the voice acting of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer and Jennifer Connelly. They all really ran with their characters and it helped distguish between which little creature was which.

I did have problems with the film’s overall story. About fifteen minutes in, the story loses itself as a new threat is introduced. The film’s internal logic, as a good friend of mine used to say, goes completely out the window. And you wonder why are they doing what they are doing?

Also who is this film aimed at? It’s too scary for younger kids, even though there were lots in the screening I went to, and its pretty short for adults. The movie is less than 79 minutes long and surprisingly that seems long. It just felt like the expanded the short film when they needed to give it another layer and allow us to feel for the characters before mayhem ensues.

It is all shock and no substance. But if you are hard-core sci-fi geek, comicbook lover or aspiring animator then you have to see this movie!

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

“9” opens September 9, 2009

For more on 9.

Check out the making of featurette and the short film that inspired it all.

The Making of 9

The Oscar-winning short film “9”

3 thoughts on “Retro Review: 9

  1. It sounds good to me and this movie is about to be released. Many waited to see this movie. I am one of them. Have read this fine article and saw the trailer too. So I am game!

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