animated movie 9 © Starz Animation

Reviews for 9

2.88 stars / 8 ratings
JNoyer's avatar
Animated Enthusiast
Reviews: 49

JNoyer's Review

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posted: Jun 09, 2010
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I wish I could share Toonboy's affection with this movie. I really do. Like so many on this site I appreciate "western" animation that tries to do something different than Disney or DreamWorks. And while I think 9 is a good, enjoyable film, I don't think it's a truly great one.
My biggest problem are the characters who just don't have anything meaningful to say. Except for the last narration by our title character there's no real reason for the ragdolls to talk. The short film achieved better results without giving its creations a voice. And they're not all very interesting. There's no time to explore the characters and especially 6 and 8 come across as rather boring. I just could't find myself creating a strong emotional bond with 9 and his kind and I'm one of these persons who need this to truly get lost in the world of a movie.
The movie as a whole is not as kinetic as the trailer might led you to think. There's plenty of action but not everything is as exciting as you hoped it to be. In fact, it becomes repetive after a time. I love good action scenes but only when they're are well done. I missed the excitement and the goosebumps that come with this type of genre. Maybe it has something to to with the missing bond between me as the viewer and the characters. But assure you, when 9 gets its action right, it pays off. This happens interestingly enough when they stay close to the original short film.
9 has the guts to try something else and I applaud it for that. It's entertaining, dark and edgy and when it manages to get you involved, it works very well. I just wish I could say that about all parts of the movie. But still, recommended for anybody who knows that animation is not just "kids stuff".

Inkwolf's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 202

Inkwolf's Review

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posted: Jan 10, 2010
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It's a delight to see Tim Burton's dark, spooky hand on the big screen again. 9 is everything that atmospheric should be. The olive drab color scheme is an interesting effect, giving it a great feeling of warzone/post-apocalyptic gloom. The characters, if not very developed, are distinct, and the animators did remarkably well in giving expression to faces made of burlap and metal goggles. If I were ranking this movie on visuals only, I would have to find a way to hack in and squeeze a fifth start onto there. And the film was also better than any other animated film I've seen in years for atmosphere and emotional involvement.

Where it fell down, really, was the lack of a satisfying ending. Without giving away spoilers, I just have to say that, in spite of the final success of the protagonists, the victory is rather empty and pointless.

SPOILERS!

Ok, so they've destroyed the evil machines and freed the parts of the soul it captured. The world is still destroyed. Humanity is dead. A few pieces of the scientist's soul live on in the surviving...umm--dolls? Puppets? Automata?--but even if they reproduce other people-machines like themselves, there will be no new souls. The soullessness of the machine contrasted against the soul puppets was the moral fulcrum of the entire story. So, what was the point? Where is the hope for a future? Or is the future of Earth only that a handful of little possessed dolls can now survive in peace until they rot and crumble?

The lack of any real success, improvement or progress at the movie's ending is really the thing that hurts it the most.

greykitty's avatar
World Class Animation Critic
Reviews: 193

greykitty's Review

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posted: Oct 14, 2009
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I liked it a lot for one reason was it was not a typical 3D animated movie. There was more to it than lame jokes and bad plot. The one thing that drags it down though is the weak character development. It had SO much potential, I wish they had elaborated more on the story and the characters. They could have easily lengthened the movie with an extra 30 minutes to build on all that.

I wish they had because most of the time it leaves you with a "I don't get it..." or "what does this have to do with the story?". There was one particularly "emotional" scene and yea it was kind of sad but at the same time, it would have been much much more moving if they had built up the characters more. As it is it I only give it three stars.

Well my biggest complaint out of the way, I really liked how this was a darker movie. No light and happy Disney animation. no obnoxious songs bursting forth, no pop music. Which by the way I did find the animation quite good. The music was excellent.

I would recommend this for anyone who's a fan of Burton films and darker imagery. I would say give it a rent, it's a decent film with great animation, just don't expect to be floored by an amazing story. Like I said it had a TON of potential but just wanted tapped into enough.

Lucky_Bob's avatar
Toon Addict
Reviews: 78

Lucky_Bob's Review

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posted: Sep 20, 2009
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I went to see Shane Acker's 9 last week with some fairly low expectations. The reviews seemed mixed and all the critics, whether they liked it (like me) or hated it seemed to agree: the film is visually stunning but the characters are flat and one dimensional. The characters are really not characters... they are stereotypes. There's "the Hero", "The Sidekick", the "Kickbutt Female", "the Skeptical Old Guy", "the Big Strong Guy", etc.


Now I am able to forgive the flat characters because I found the whole world Acker created really cool. The scenery was wonderful, the action sequences are beautifully choreographed and animated and the character animation was, for the most part, solid.


I do have some complaints about the character animation and it all comes to the design of the characters... some of them look almost exactly the same apart from a few alterations in the colors. And, alot of the time, they move the same and make the same gestures and the same expressions... It just starts to look boring after awhile.


I think this problem could've been solved by assigning supervising animators to all the characters to make sure this problem does not occur. The supervising animators could've nailed down a certain way that each character moved and gestured and helped the animators stick to that. This is the sort of film where having character supervisers would've worked wonders for it.


It's not so bad when you have diverse looking characters like in a Pixar film like The Incredibles or Up when the design basically speaks for itself... but in the sistuation most of the characters look the same... I think character supervisors are needed.


So those are my thoughts on 9 in a nutshell. It may seem like a fairly negative review but it really is not. I liked the film and think it's an admirable first effort and I wish everyone involved the best of luck. The film is short enough and visually stunning enough to where I can overlook the storytelling flaws. I think the length of the film really saves it. If it were any longer, I probably would've just lost interest.


I really hope this film succeeds and opens a door for more widely released adult-oriented animated films.


I give this film a B-. Not great for sure, but it's far from terrible.

inkandpixelclub's avatar
Newcomer
Reviews: 5

inkandpixelclub's Review

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posted: Sep 18, 2009
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I've been torn on "9" since I saw it. On the one hand, it's really great to see an animated movie that isn't aimed at kids with a wide release, lots of advertising, and a tone that's less than dead serious. (I know it's odd to label a film that starts with the end of life as we know it as "less than serious," but it's no "Persepolis" or "Waltz with Bashir.") There are some compelling ideas in the film and certainly some fun stuff to look at. I particularly enjoyed the twins 3 and 4 and their cataloging system.

On the other hand, "9" has some pretty big issues when it comes to story and, sadly, visuals. I had already heard reports that the story was thin, so I went in with that expectation. But I was still disappointed in how repetitious the film became, with so many scenes devoted to "characters run from machine, character fight machine." The battle scenes start to feel uncomfortably similar. Some of the movie's key points are woefully underexplained and others get explanations that don't hold up under even minimal scrutiny. The films visual problems are centered on the main characters. Their designs are interesting, but because their eyes are rigid metal lenses, their range of facial expressions are severely limited. They do have brows, but the design prevents them from altering the shape of the eye socket or the eye so they just waggle around above the eye without really contributing to the expression. On top of this, I kept noticing poses that weren't being pushed far enough, which makes for poor body language, further limiting the expressiveness of the characters.

I would very much like to see more films like "9" come out that are neither family fare nor limited release independents (not that I haven't loved examples of both.) But if such films are going to be successful, I want to see more care put into story and character, so that I'l love the film itself, and not just the idea it stands for.

Toonboy's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 319

Toonboy's Review

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posted: Sep 12, 2009
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9 is probably destined to become another forgotten classic, but it matters little. Even the best of us get sick of wise-cracking, dancing and singing doe-eyed animals. 9 is the cure. I went into 9 expecting to be disappointed and came out extremely jazzed about the future of animation. I mean let's face it. When was the last time any of us saw a good rated PG-13 animated movie? Patlabor? Steamboy? Please. Most people would probably pick Princess Mononoke as the last truly successful entry in the realm of adult animation.

Judging by the sound thrashing it's getting by the critics, it seems the world isn't quite ready for an animated movie without singing teapots or hyperactive squirrels, however the showing I was at seemed modestly packed(a good sign) and the people behind me seemed to enjoy themselves.

9 combines the theme of "outcast hero who screws it up and saves everybody again" of A Bug's Life, a dash of an alternate universe World War II, and the nail-biting dark paranoia of The Matrix. Since The Matrix pretty much has sucked the life out of the whole genre and gotten us all spoiled, the fact that this tiny movie with a big punch has gotten even that last element right is nothing short of sheer genius.

The movie treats us to a world of dark nightmarish visions and charged violence. There's a certain raw power to many of the scenes in this film, however the brutality still isn't something the average ten-year-old can't handle. Most people would probably be drawn to the dreary and depressing landscape, which evokes a kind of eerie beauty.

However, contrary to what the critics are saying, 9 isn't a soulless movie of irritating noise and motion. There are actually only a few key fight scenes, which allows the creators the flexibility to give caring attention to each scene's kinetic energy, and upon seeing the strange monsters in motion, I was actually reminded of Greek mythology. And like Greek mythology, 9 may have a somewhat limiting story, but 9 unfolded more like a short story and less like a movie that couldn't decide on what it wanted to tell and gave up. Short?! Could've fooled me. Unlike, say Disney's Atlantis, a movie which I still enjoyed but felt like bits were missing even at 90 minutes long, 9 at 70 minutes long still felt like just the right length. 9 also refreshingly had a straightforward back story, and the way it was told was brilliant.

9 is also a movie with tiny bits of details tucked away here and there. These are the kinds of details that are insignificant and that many will miss by blinking but that still give the film a strange kind of authenticity. The main point of the film can also be digested and paired away in different ways. Too often it seems like religion is the downfall of mankind. Here science is the target. However the themes of the movie are presented in such a basic way that they never seem to outshine the exploits of the characters and leaves the messages of the film open to interpretation. 9 does its best not to make science or technology seem like the ultimate evil and to show us that only through our actions does evil come. The only point of contention for me is the very blunt "Yeah these guys are definitely Nazis" representation of the Chancellor and his party.

I found it odd that, given the giant machines, the ragdoll characters, and the lack of human beings, 9 was still one of the most honestly humane movies I've ever seen. It got so many things right that movies like Dark City, A.I., or I, Robot got wrong. The viciousness of the action scenes gave me the same feeling I got upon watching Jurassic Park for the first time. However, the subtext of the movie and the strangely endearing stitchpunks elevated the movie beyond mindless violence. While it seemed like many of the characters threatened to become one-note characters, only 9's constant heart of gold might irritate some watchers. 1's bitterness actually made him that much more of a fascinating character and made him better than say the elder penguins of Happy Feet. One of the best scenes in the movie is close to the end. 1 bitterly exclaims to himself "They've left us nothing. Why should we be the ones to clean up their mess?" What happens after that is nothing short of shocking.

The choice of ending is also intriguing but might leave many puzzled. It's not a happy ending. It's not a sad ending. But nobody saves the planet. You'll have to decide for yourself what to make of it, but I found it brilliant. However, for the movie's careful build up of themes, subtexts, and emotions, when that blasted thing blew up to Kingdom Come, I had to keep myself from uttering "That was F-ing cool!" as I felt like I had just witnessed the Death Star blowing up again. Maybe ultimately, it's that explosive element which most people will take away from this film. Which is kind of sad because I felt there was more to 9 than sheer energy. The ultimate message of the movie can probably best be summed up by the film's final scene, which wisely reuses the original short's funeral scene.

athena's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 218

athena's Review

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posted: Sep 11, 2009
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I am one of those types of people who loves to cheer for the underdog and in the animation world, just about any film that isn't made by Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks I would classify as a kind of 'underdog'. Further "9" takes on a dark stylistic sensibility that you just don't see in the kind of movies that the major studios produce. More than anything, it is the look of this film that recommends it for the big screen.

Still, after the truly epic feel of the trailers, I came away from the movie feeling like they perhaps sold a different movie from the one I saw. While definitely good, "9" falls short of true greatness in my mind, lacking some intangible quality. The characters are likeable, but you don't click with them quite enough. The action is exciting, but it doesn't quite pull you to the edge of your seat. I almost wonder if it was perhaps the soundtrack that was lacking in this area--not quite developed enough to ratchet up the tension--because certainly the visuals were gripping in unto themselves.

Should you see this in theatres? Yes. This is a movie that visually lends itself to the big screen. Further, you should see it if you believe that animation ought to be more than what we have become accustomed to... go ahead and cheer for these underdogs.