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9
Shane Acker 2009

So this is the latest Tim Burton-esq animated film, even though he only produced, not directed 9 it definitely reminded me of him. I had heard it lacked depth and too some extent that's true but there is no lack of imagination. If you take the time to notice how much effort has gone into the small details, 9 is brilliant.

This is how the story goes, bare with me because its far from a typical narrative. A scientist brings to life nine dolls because human beings are at war with machines and all organic life is dying out. We meet the 9 possibly years after the war and follow them as they try to survive against "the beast" and uncover the mystery of there origins.
The only way I could think of to describe it would be Tim Burton's version of Toy Story. The machine/industry vs life/soul theme reminded me of Fern Gully.

Looking at 9 from a purely artistic standpoint, it is a masterpiece. The animation is subtle but heavily detailed. Every character has been well thought out in reference to there part of the story. For example doll 9#, they are all numbered, is well made, with copper and a zip, but number one is rougher and made of steel, every doll differs. But like I mentioned only if you take the time
will you notice because 9 is so subtle, it never flaunts itself like the majority of modern animation but leaves it to you to pick up on the finer points. The "beast" and machines are particularly creative, bone, machine and other bits and pieces fused together in steampunk style make for some truly harrowing enemies. Everything from the WWII style post-apocalyptic themed world to the black and white flash backs are beautifully designed.

I don't know if its by accident or design that the characters and story don't have much depth, not much to think about apart from what you see in front of you. In some ways this works for the story since the main characters haven't been alive for very long and are really only dolls, and because they would prefer you focus on the animation rather then any emotional attachment. After saying that there are some deeper themes regarding life, technology and the soul but there pretty broad and you won't hear from them until towards the end.

My other problem is with the voice acting.
Elijah Wood is the voice of the central doll 9#, his voice works for the character, the ambitious, curious doll. The rest of the cast is kind of generic and could have been replaced without you knowing the difference and also because they don't get much chance to speak. Especially Jenifer Connelly who I didn't recognise at all. Grispin Glover, who has the most unique voice is wasted on a character who only utters a few words here and there and could have contributed so much more to the uniqueness of his character.

The originality, creativity and thought that went into 9 make up for its few short comings.