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September 10, 2009

9 Review

— Posted by John Campea

Thanks for checking out our 9 review. If you’d like to see the video version of our 9 review you can catch it at the bottom of this post.

Shane Acker had his stint as a visual effects animator on “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” as the most prominent career moment, until now. Now his story of 9 is in theaters under his direction and produced by none other than Tim Burton. Was it a successful venture for him? Well… yes and no.


The synopsis for 9 reads something like this: “When 9 first comes to life, he finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world where all humans are gone, and it is only by chance that he discovers a small community of others like him taking refuge from fearsome machines that roam the earth intent on their extinction. Despite being the neophyte of the group, 9 convinces the others that hiding will do them no good. They must take the offensive if they are to survive, and they must discover why the machines want to destroy them in the first place. As they’ll soon come to learn, the very future of civilization may depend on them.”


As one could tell from the trailers (and thankfully didn’t disappoint in the least) 9 is simply visually stunning. The environments, characters and animation are all breathtaking to look at. The harsh post-apocalyptic word that Acker creates is tangible to the audience. Bleak and fearsome, cold and despair inducing. But more than a sense of horror, the world 9 shows us brings out a bigger sense of sorrow. Sorrow over a world wasted. This is exactly what he was going for, and it is exactly what it gave us.

The direction of this film is beautiful. The pacing and “cinematography” (I know some people don’t like using that phrase when it comes to animated films, but that’s exactly what it is), the beats and shot selection all come together in beautiful harmony. The job of the director is not to create a story… but rather to tell it in the best possible way it can, and Acker did that. I very much look forward to his next effort.


Unfortunately, as visually beautiful and well directed the film is, the story is by far its biggest weakness. It’s difficult to go into any detail because it would give key plot points of the film away, but there are some huge logic gaps and plot holes in this film that frankly make no sense whatsoever. The ending of the film, instead of answering major questions brought up by the film, only serves to confuse the issues more and at moments directly contradicts itself.

One of the major inconsistencies in the film seems to be its message. One the one hand it seems to be yet another movie in the long line of “be careful of how reliant we become on technology or it could turn on us” films… but then at the same time the story revolves around a magical talisman that takes souls. It was frustrating to wait until the end of the film to see how they would remedy this contradiction, only to find they take the error to the next level. That statement may not make much sense to you right now, but you’ll see what I mean if you watch the film.

In the words of a fellow film pundint: “You can tell this was a short film that was just not ready to be stretched into a feature”. How true that statement is.


9 is a magnificent film visually in terms of effects, animation and the direction of the on screen action. However, even though the story is TOLD well, the story itself was weak and filled with holes that left me and some others frustrated. Still, overall a generally enjoyable experience but one you may do well to just wait for on DVD sometime. I give 9 a 6 out of 10.

You can see the video version of our 9 review here:

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  • Hannah

    First of all, I give 9 a 9 out of 9. Also, i liked the way that it was different because its not all about a hero who’s going to rescue the girl from the evil clutches of the MACHINE. actually 7 is a pretty butt-kicking heroine. also i like 6 because he’s loopy and creative, sometimes i feel that way too. like i know i’m right but no one listens to me because they think theyre right. oh yeah, pet peeve time. STOP CALLING 5 6 AND 6 5!!! LIKE, IVE SEEN COMMENTS SAYING, ‘OH 6 AGREED TO HELP 9 SAVE 2.’ AND ‘I LIKE THE END WHERE 8 IS HOLDING 5’S HAND WHILE THEYRE WALKING TO THEIR GRAVES’. SHUT UP!!! 5 AGREED TO HELP 9 SAVE 2, AND AT THE END, 8 WAS HOLDING 6’S HAND WHILE THEYRE WALKING TO THEIR GRAVES!!! OKAY?? GET IT??? thanks.

  • eNdEmiOn

    Does anyone know what the story was intended to be like? I enjoyed the movie but would like some answers.

    What was the point of the talisman in the first place? It only gives life to the beast and sucks up peaces of the scientist’s soul. If the talisman hadn’t been there the end result would have been better as the only remaining beast was rather easily defeated.

    Would have made more sense if eventually all 9 were sucked up and than automatically dispersed over the world. Putting the soul back into the earth. Now only just over half of 1 soul got dispersed. Maybe dispersal of all 9, some rain, ending with some little plant popping out of the ground symbolizing the start of an new life-cycle would have been much better and would make sense.

    BTW amazing how quickly they managed to walk what must have seemed like vast distances for those little dolls.

    Also at the end “It’s what we make of it.”. How can only 4 of those dolls with incomplete souls be the future of life on earth. And how is something like procreation gonna work?

  • Tyler

    While the ending of 9 kinda left me with the feeling of, “That’s it?” I really enjoyed the film quite a bit. Something I did notice was the book held up by the scientist in the recorded video and/or flashback. It had “Transmutation Vitalus”(or a close varient) which had me believing they had used Alchemy to transmute souls into stitchpunks/machines. Just though it might help explain the mystery behind that talisman. (I hope no one considers this a spoiler)

  • Dragonslayer

    I LOVED this movie and I can’t understand why people don’t. An amazing film, 9/10

  • Thos

    Good review. I pretty much had the same thoughts.

  • Derek 8-Track

    you give it an upside down 9 out of 10

  • Danika

    I agree there are holes in the plot. I liked the answers given by “going back to the source”, but from that point on I was disappointed. I would have liked to see the soul join the intellect, instead of kill the intellect and free the soul. I would have liked to see 1 through 9 get sucked up and the machine (intellect) reunite with it’s own soul.

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