Reviews since 1993: A-E F-N O-Z Posters Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do Search the Site
Now in Release
DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
IN SHORT: Best 'toon of the year so far for a film that is far more than your standard 'toon. [Rated PG-13 for violence and scary images. 79 minutes]
When Winsor McKay put pen to rice paper in the years before WWI, there is no way he could have forseen what the animated cartoon form he was creating with Gertie the Dinosaur would become what you'll see onscreen in 9. Walt Disney or Tex Avery or Bob Clampett couldn't have seen it. Chuck Jones may have as he expanded from 8 minute Looney Toons into half hour long television 'toons. Maybe the animators fiddling about making effects for Tron could, and the geniuses at Disney-Pixar sure do. So does Tim Burton -- you should know that name -- who helped short film animator Shane Acker take his Student Academy Award winning short to big screen jawdropper. So, add Focus Features to that list of studio geniuses <g>
Yours Cranky owns original art by McCay and Jones, btw. We are one of the legion of 'toonheads that we write about. We sat through 9 with our jaws hanging to the floor. The animation work so blew our mind that we had to go back for a second look, just in case we missed any of the story. Sometimes we so love this job . . .
What we see of the world pre-9 looks suspiciously like WWII newsreels from fascist Italy. This world, though, is run by a man called The Chancellor (Tom Kane). The Chancellor has engaged a Scientist (Alan Oppenheimer) to build an ultimate Machine that would make human life easier by creating other machines to make human life easier. This mega machine starts to build, more and more and -- stop me if you've heard this one -- a revolt begins. Machines versus Humans. Humans lose, bigtime. Now killer machines roam the planet seeking out any remnants of humanity, or anything not resembling another machine.
On the other hand, The Scientist first responsible for creating the Ultimate Machine, has spent his last days on earth creating an alternative, non-human creature are about half a foot or so high. The first creature we meet wears the number 9 on its back (voiced by Elijah Wood) and is at the center of the story. "9" knows nothing. He doesn't know that the papers all over the floor contain the blueprints to creating creatures like himself, or that the body on the floor covered by those papers is that of his creator, who has stored a whopper of a secret into each of the nine variations of creatures he has made. So creature version 9 walks away, venturing into a world that he finds isn't nourishing and luvvy duvvy at all. It is as it looks, a war zone. It is so frightening that "9" grabs a length of pipe for protection and WHAM!, down goes the first creature he comes across, version number "2" (Martin Landau), elderly and frail and thrilled to find other creatures still walking the planet.
"2" will bring "9" together with other creatures . . . each with numbers on their backs denoting their version numbers: "1" (Christopher Pummer) is the eldest of the lot and, therefore, the Leader. "3" and "4" catalog everything they find. They communicate nonverbally and only with each other. "5" (John C. Reilly) is an engineer. "6" (Crispin Glover) is an artist, whose hallucinatory visions decorate buildings and whater paper scraps it can get a hold of. The closest thing to a warrior is number "7" (Jennifer Conelly). Finally, "8" (Fred Tatasciore) is a brute, more muscle than anything else. Our notes properly describe him an an "enforcer" type.
There are two enemiy machines that all must hide from. The first is a hunter killer that, well, hunts and kills. The bigger enemy is the approprately named "Beast Machine". Said machine will suck the souls out of just about every numeric creature by the time something miraculous happens. And then all hell breaks loose <vbg>
That being said, those thinking that 9 will be a great place to dump the little ones; not if they're single digit kidlets. The SF-meets-apocalyptic drama will be far over their heads.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Nine, he would have paid . . .
Student Academy Award winner Shane Acker directs an animated fantasy epic, produced by directors Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov. When 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood) first comes to life, he finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world. All humans are gone, and it is only by chance that he discovers a community of other small creatures like him taking refuge from fearsome machines that roam the landscape intent on doing them harm. Despite being the neophyte of the group, 9 convinces the others that hiding will do them no good. They must take the offensive if they are ever to survive, and they must discover why the machines want to destroy them in the first place. As they’ll soon come to learn, the very future of civilization may depend on them.
The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995 - 2015 by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, ™ their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award™(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.