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9 Review – DVD/Blu-ray Release

Director: Shane Acker
Cast: Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau
DVD / Blu-ray Release Date: December 29, 2009

In a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has become extinct, nine rag dolls (stitchpunks) are all that stands in the way of machines that have taken over the world.

9 (Elijah Wood) awakens to find himself alone in a world devoid of all life. It’s only by chance that he discovers a small community of other Stitchpunks. The dolls named by the numbers stitched onto their backs, have created a safe haven to protect themselves from the terrifying machines that now roam the Earth. 9 persuades the others that the only way to ensure their survival is to mount an offensive against the machines. What ensues is a series of battles against the machines as 9 attempts to lead his kin to victory and change the fate of mankind.

First let’s start with the background of this movie, the concept; turn an award winning and Oscar nominated film short into a feature length movie. Well Shane Acker’s 2005 animated short is a masterpiece of filmmaking by anyone’s standards. It’s a perfectly packaged piece of art that has an impact on the viewer and says everything it needs to in a very short running time. But extrapolating what worked effectively in the 11 minute short into a full length film was always going to be Acker’s greatest difficulty. And unfortunately as is more than evident as you watch the film that difficulty wasn’t overcome. There are points in the film that for want of a better word, drag. All the creative energy that was put into the short just wasn’t sustained throughout the 80 minute feature film. And it’s a shame that despite the unique story, stunning visuals and incredibly detailed animation it’s that which has the lasting effect on the viewer.

However saying that you really can’t underestimate the visual impact of this movie, which is truly breathtaking. This kind of attention to detail is only achieved by animators who are masters of their craft and dare I say slightly OCD to boot. Each frame of this film is like a perfectly taken photo, providing visual detail that certainly wasn’t unnoticed or wasted on me. My eyes adored this movie; it’s just a pity that wasn’t enough to prevent my mind from wondering during the film. Another gripe I have with 9 is that it never really decided which audience it was targeting. It was too dark a tale for children yet not engaging enough to hold the attention of their parents and so both parties were ultimately left disappointed.

Overall despite my overly negative review, which admittedly is more a venting of my disappointment, this is a movie you should see, even if it’s just for the visuals. Failing that definitely take a look at the 2005 film short which I have attached below.

If you’d like to see the theatrical trailer for 9 you can view it here

You can order a copy of 9 here on DVD / Blu-ray

Shane Ackers 2005 film short 9

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