Two-dimensional dystopian animation
With visionary heavyweights Tim Burton and Nightwatch/Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov amongst the producers, Shane Acker’s feature-length animation, based on his own Oscar-nominated short, promises revolutionary animation, but never delivers the emotional hooks required to sustain a feature’s length.
The concept is certainly novel; 9 is the name of a central character, a tiny cloth doll who finds himself fighting for survival in an post-apocalyptic Earth where huge machines rule. Voiced by Elijah Wood, plucky 9 sets off to save what’s left of humanity, working on conjunction with his other numerically named pals including 1 (Christopher Plummer), 5 (John C Reilly) and 7 (Jennifer Connelly).
With an impressive dystopian look, 9’s alternative reality initially intrigues, but once the mystery of what these doll-like figures represent is explained, Acker’s film falls back on a fairly conventional sub-Pixar adventure format, with little social or political detail to give the striking images much resonance. Too scary for small kids and too pat for adults, Acker’s well-meant but exhausting film never really overcomes the flaw of its central conceit; that in a world devoid of personality or humanity, there’s little reason for us to empathise with its two-dimensional heroes.
(12A) 79min. General release from Wed 28 Oct.