Voices of: Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly
Direction: Shane Acker
Miracles are possible. You wait ages for an outstanding debut film, then two turn up in the same week. Intriguingly still, 9, like District 9 — yes, both movies also share the same numeral — is an expanded version of an earlier short, in this case Shane Acker’s award-winning 2005 animated fable.
The plot of the spectacularly envisioned sci-fi adventure revolves around the titular rag doll (voiced with appropriate apprehension by Wood) who’s exploring the post-apocalyptic landscape for signs of life. Loosely stitched together out of odds and ends — burlap, zippers, discarded copper pieces — 9 is quite an inspired creation.
Accompanied by a handful of other numbered creatures of his kind, they battle a mechanical monster intent on reducing the planet to rubble.
The stamp of producer Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow) is evident in the film’s imaginative visual design. Moreover, peerless animation draws the viewer into the lives and concerns of the distinctive characters.
The dialogue is correctly kept to a minimum. Just in case you’re wondering, a brave-heart baby doll (dubbed by the Oscar-winning Connelly) fetches up to lend some extra spice. The chase scenes, however, do tend to become repetitive after a point.
The eclectic voice cast includes old-timers Christopher Plummer as the group’s hidebound leader and Martin Landau in the role of the friendly inventor called 2.
Clocking in at a snappy 79 minutes, 9 is one of the increasingly rare films — animated or live-action — that actually seems too short. Have a nice scare.