9 (2 stars)


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.

9 trailer


  • 2 stars
  • 2009
  • US
  • 1h 19min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Shane Acker
  • Cast: Elijah Wood, John C Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Fred Tatasciore

A tiny, numerically named cloth doll voiced by Wood is the central figure in this rather exhausting dystopian animation, which never fully succeeds in delivering the emotion or personality required to provoke our empathy. Striking images are here let down by a lack of deeper resonance.