For the most part, the world of the future in movies usually sucks. There’s not much of it left in the opening scenes of this CGI animated film which depicts a bombed out landscape where the sole survivors of a global war are a group of odd little creatures resembling ambulatory “sock puppets” with binocular eyes. Threatening their survival is a giant mechanized, spider-like monster, known as the Beast, with a red eye capable of taking the soul of anything it gets its claws on. As I expected, the visual elements of this movie have a magnetic quality about them that kept my eyes glued to its bleak setting reminiscent of a late ‘70s Pink Floyd album cover. Each character has their own qualities that represent various archetypes like the mitre wearing leader (voiced by Christopher Plummer) who symbolizes organized religion, the free-thinking title character (Elijah Wood) and the warrior (Jennifer Connolly) who interestingly is the movie’s only “female.” Expanded from an Academy Award nominated short film in 2006, 9 seems slightly padded at times, and some of the action sequences look overly dependent upon standard live action visual effects when a “less is more” approach might have been more suitable. But rookie director and original creator Shane Acker never allows his work to lag for any significant length. The deep questions raised by Pamela Pettler’s screenplay are left largely unanswered in order to be pondered by the viewer. Good animated movies are the ones that utilize the ability to present their stories in a fashion that their conventional brethren can’t. Visually, 9 achieves this, which makes it worth watching, as well as being the kind of movie that stays in your head awhile after you’ve seen it.
GOOD MOVIES WITH “NINE” SOMEWHERE IN THE TITLE … NINE LIVES (2005), NINE TO FIVE (1980), 99 RIVER STREET (1953), 1984 (1956), 1900 (1977), THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (1980) …
AND TWO THAT ARE REALLY, REALLY BAD! 9 WEEKS (1986), PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1956)