9 (2009)

Christopher Plummer (1), John C. Reilly (5), Jennifer Connelly (7), Elijah Wood (9)

Directed by Shane Acker

From IMDB: A rag doll that awakens in a post-apocalyptic future holds the key to humanity's salvation.

This computer animated film is an extension of the short film created by the same director. We'd seen the initial preview for it at the theater, but its PG-13 rating and the fact that the girls couldn't watch the trailer without freaking out meant that it was an adults-only animated experience.

And what an experience. The visuals are just amazing. The action scenes, in particular, are such a head-trip. They basically decided to take all of the things you can't do with real humans and make it happen with animated dolls. I love that approach, because what else does animation really bring to a movie for adults? Some superhero movies are so rife with CGI that they may as well be fully cartoon. This made no apologies from the start.

Basically 9 was everything that the utter shitpiles of The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions should have been. It was tense, daring and so well constructed. The steampunk sensibility and unusual appearance of the dolls made for a completely engrossing visual treat.

The plot is rather deep but I won't get into that here. Suffice to say that the dolls each represent a facet of human personality: bravery, physical daring, idiocy, insanity, creativity, fear, etc. Some of these facets are killed off. Some survive. If you think of them as individual people, then the arc of the story is very sad. But if you regard it as one person's attempt to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive...then it's bearable.

Purging the weaker elements of one's character, however, is never an easy process. In this gruesome little fairy tale, the process is amazingly traumatic and violent. I enjoyed it very much, but it's certainly not a film for kids.

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