Making the Grades
In a post-apocalyptic world, machines roam a barren and burnt landscape hunting down all that is left of humanity—a group of stuffed, sequentially numbered dolls who’ve been brought to life by a scientist.
The first recognition of consciousness for #9 (voice by Elijah Wood) happens at the moment his creator (voice by Alan Oppenheimer) dies. Confused and left alone in a secluded lab, the tiny burlap covered character makes his way out the room’s open door and stumbles upon another individual known as #2 (voice by Martin Landau). The enterprising #2 finds and implants a voice box in the newly animated figure, allowing him to speak. But before #2 can fill #9 in on all the details of their situation, a mechanical monster swoops down on the twosome and captures the inventive second edition rag doll.
Rescued from the frightful experience by a handful of other similarly fashioned characters (voices by John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connelly, and Fred Tatasciore), #9 is hurried into an old cathedral where he meets #1, an aging, Asian miniature (voice by Christopher Plummer) who has appointed himself commander of the cloth-covered figures. When #9 suggests that the group mount a rescue party to find #2, his idea is quickly shot down by the cloaked leader who believes hiding is the only way to stay alive.
Fortunately some of the others are willing to join the daring attempt to find their comrade. But the insurmountable odds these miniscule combatants face make their chance of survival look as small as they are. However this movie combines old standby villains (Nazi-like commanders contaminated with a thirst for power) and stereotypical characters (including a negatively portrayed ethnic figure, a large and dumb bodyguard and an athletic, tough female) with a script that is so overused it won’t leave anyone wondering about the eventual outcome.
Depictions of war, explosions and moments of peril make up most of this film’s content concerns. Yet the storyline often feels tedious and pretentious as it attempts to mimic a multitude of futuristic doomsday films. The production’s redeeming feature is the creative team’s innovative and clever animation that gives life to this progressive series of dolls. For animation aficionados, the CGI work may be enough to hold their interest through the dark and dreary battle sequences. But for entertainment seeking teens heading out to the theater, this story may feel too familiar to be worth the price of admission.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about 9 (Nine).
How is technology misused in this story? Are there real life examples of this type of exploitation?
How does #1 try to control the other dolls? How do leaders use fear as a weapon against their own people? What kind of personal sacrifices are portrayed?