Original vision brings world of ‘9’ to life


Everyone grows up with a certain cartoon that you watch hundreds of times and sing along with every moment, and for me that was “The Nightmare before Christmas.” While many kids imagine a magic carpet, or an enchanted
ballroom, I used to stare wide eyed as Skeleton Jack king of the pumpkin patch celebrated Halloween. When I heard Tim Burton was attached as a producer to a PG-13 computer animated film about the annihilation of the human race, I was more than a little excited.

Based off of Shane Ackers Oscar nominated short, “9” is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been destroyed by machines. The only signs of life are sack people created by a scientist that lives in fear of the evil machines that lurk in the city. As the ninth and final sack person awakens with no memory, it witnesses a machine capture one of the sack people. After being knocked unconscious, 9 awakens in a church to find several sack people are being lead by 1, a cowardly leader with distaste for 9. After escaping the church, 9 and 5 venture out to rescue their comrade 2, but during the attempt, they activate “the machine,” a creation that builds more evil machines from scrap parts. Tired of living in fear, the remaining sack people unite to fight.

The original short film’s main characters were mute and communicated by movements. The theatrical release changes that with an all-star cast to give the sack people more depth. The main character, 9, is voiced by Elijah Wood who does a good job of playing the frightened hero. John C. Reilly plays 5, the cowardly sidekick whom follows 9 wherever he goes. Jennifer Connelly plays 7, the skilled hunter with rebellious tendencies. While the dialogue may be minimal, all the actors do a great job of giving each character their own style, and showcase their Sack person’s talent.

The story may sound like a “Terminator” movie, but “9” is a unique film. The use of sack people is odd but ends up being the most interesting aspect of the film. The miniature world is completely immersive
with brilliant ideas of every day chores of life like transportation and reading. That being said, “9” has some problems that hold this movie back from becoming a great film. The lack of character development makes it hard to care if something bad happens to them, and that makes up a decent portion
of the film. This problem may be because the films unnecessarily short runtime of 79 minutes.

Director Shane Acker shows great potential with his first feature length animated film, and Producer Tim Burton’s creepy style compliments every aspect of “9”. Even without viewing this film in 3-D the visuals were remarkable. The art team did an amazing job capturing Ackers vision from the short film, by retaining the miniature war torn world. The sack people’s designs were top-notch, but the villains are the highlight of this film with Tim Burton’s best designs since “Beetlejuice.”

The original score by Deborah Lurie fits this movie perfectly, mixing World War II documentary drum rolls with a gothic undertone. The highlight of the soundtrack
was using “Somewhere over the rainbow” in one of the films darkest scenes. The sound effects are top notch and should be used as a reference for future animated films.

While many computer animated movies have epic sequences and remarkable visuals, “9” stands out as a dark movie definitely not aimed for children. The PG-13 rating is well earned with intense action sequences, and scenes of terror that may shock some viewers.
Overall, “9” is an exciting experience that has something most films lack these days: originality.