Combustible Celluloid
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With: (voices) Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Crispin Glover, Fred Tatasciore, Alan Oppenheimer, Tom Kane, Helen Wilson
Written by: Pamela Pettler, based on a story by Shane Acker
Directed by: Shane Acker
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and scary images
Running Time: 79
Date: 08/19/2009

9 (2009)

2 Stars (out of 4)

By the Numbers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton co-produced this feature-length extension of Shane Acker's Oscar-nominated short film of 2005. But no one bothered to ask if there was any more story to tell, and frankly, there isn't. The movie has some innovative designs, but those designs were just as innovative on paper, and animating them and bringing them to the big screen adds practically nothing. Now, it's merely some innovative character designs spouting inane dialogue and going through some creaky plot motions. "9" (voiced by Elijah Wood), wide-eyed little doll made of zippers and burlap, comes to life apparently after the apocalypse. He meets another like himself, "2" (voiced by Martin Landau), and watches helplessly as "2" gets dragged away by a giant mechanical beast. He eventually finds the rest of the numbers, and they bicker about whether to hide or go into action. "9" also unwittingly releases an even more powerful killing machine, and the rest of the movie alternates between a lot of slick, derivative action sequences and more bickering. (Acker gives himself a "based on a story by" credit, which cracked me up; there's a story here?) Essentially, 9 is yet another message movie about the horrors of war, disguised as sci-fi. It's glum and witless and its few actual sci-fi ideas are either unbearably hackneyed or flat-out nonsensical. Jennifer Connelly voices "7," a kung-fu warrior (of course). John C. Reilly is the one-eyed worrier "5," and Christopher Plummer is the cowardly leader "1." Crispin Glover provides the movie's few bursts of life as the half-mad "6." If only the movie itself could have been a little loonier, but at least it's short.

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