In 2005, Shane Acker created a short film called 9 for a student project at the Indianapolis International Film festival. The film featured a rag doll called 9 in a machine-ravaged, post-apocalyptic world. Tim Burton, who saw this film at the festival, was impressed enough to produce a feature-length film of the same name, also directed by Shane Acker.
The movie starts with the creation of 9 by the last human scientist, who dies as soon as 9 is completed. 9, not knowing what else to do, wanders out into the world, where he discovers that the scientist had created other living dolls. These dolls, however, have been hunted by the last few remnants of the machines that destroyed the planet and 9, not knowing what he was doing, awakened the one machine that could kill them all.
My first impressions of this movie were of the art design and animation. I really liked the aesthetics of the rag dolls and the machines. It was an interesting mix of clockwork, electronics, and organic materials, almost steam punk in design. The animation was smooth and making the part skeleton machines move the way they did was very impressive.
The story was alright. While it entertained me, it didn’t really impress me the way that I thought it would. The message that technology, machines, and industrialization is bad was heavy handed and obvious. This seemed a little odd to me because the characters in the movie were all created from machines and they weren’t bad or evil. Also, the scientist who created the dolls had also created the machines that were misused to kill everyone and he wasn’t evil either. The message ended up being a bit convoluted and hypocritical.
That’s not to say that I didn’t like it. I did like the movie. A lot of incredibly talented people worked on this project and it interesting to see people like Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, and Crispin Glover do voice work for the characters of this movie.
I would recommend this movie for people of any age, especially for kids. It’s a hopeful story with admirable characters full of courage and very entertaining.