What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this dark, futuristic Tim Burton-produced fantasy may be animated, but it's not meant for younger kids. Violence and scary scenes are prevalent throughout the film, with the main characters frequently battling killer robotic machines -- which are merciless as they pursue (and, in several cases, kill) their ragdoll-like prey in frightening ways. The robots also make alarming noises and often pop up out of the blue. Dead human bodies are shown briefly, but there's no gore. On the up side, despite the movie's ominous tone and frequent peril and violence, there's no language, drinking, consumerism, or sexual content.
What's the story?
Based on writer-director Shane Acker's 2005 Oscar-nominated short, 9 is set in a post-apocalyptic world where all that's left of humanity is a band of ragdoll-like beings created by an unnamed elderly scientist. When the final ragdoll, 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), awakens, he sets off to explore his world. He stumbles upon another creature like him, 2 (Martin Landau), but they're quickly attacked by a mechanical beast, and 2 is taken. 9 joins up with the remaining ragdolls, who are split between those who want to confront the murderous machine to save 2 and those who want to hide from it. After 9 inadevertently powers up an even bigger machine, the group has no choice but to attempt to destroy the killer robot.
Is it any good?
Acker is a gifted filmmaker. The movie's visuals are breathtakingly crafted, and everything in a scene -- from the buttons and zippers on the ragdoll creatures' bodies to the stained-glass window in a deserted cathedral -- is amazingly detailed. The pacing is also just right. At only 79 minutes, the suspense is crisply edited, with a couple of moments earning audible gasps from the audience. Based on style alone, this is a brilliant, five-star film.
But story-wise, Acker falls a bit short. The plot is minimalist, and all of the characters -- aged and jaded leader 1 (Christopher Plummer), fiercely brave 7 (Jennifer Connelly), sweet but scared 5 (John C. Reilly), introverted artist 6 (Crispin Glover), and mute librarian twins 3 and 4 -- deserve more depth. We see 9 from his "birth," but the rest of the gang isn't nearly as strongly sewn together. Still, plot shortcomings aside, 9 is a must-see for its impressive, inventive animation.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's violence and scary scenes. Is it any less scary because humans aren't involved, or is it still intense?
What is the movie saying about technology? Is technology portrayed negatively in other films?
Who do you think the movie's intended audience is? Do you think young kids will want to see it?