9, reviewed by Koutchboom

9 is an astonishing and beautiful piece of the apocalypse.

9 movie

I have no good reason for why I did not see this in the theater. I was extremely excited when I saw the first trailer. I had already seen and loved the short film. My favorite movies are Toy Story and City of Lost Children and this is pretty much the combination of both. I love animated films. The last great film I had seen had the number 9 in the title and was also based on a short film. Instead I foolishly listened to reviews about it. What a great film.

This is Burton at his best. This is that sequel or next great thing after Nightmare Before Christmas Tim was unable to deliver until now. While Tim is not as involved in this film as he was with Nightmare he was smart enough to bring the right people together like he did with that film. This is directors Shane Ackers baby through and through. He wrote and did most of the animation for the short this film is based on. While this is essentially an expanded version of that short he adds a whole back history and story to the character 9. Another thing that made Nightmare so memorable was the score, I won’t be humming the score for 9 for the rest of my life but the haunting score by Danny Elfman’s protégé Deborah Lurie was masterfully done and very fitting.

9 movie


For fans of the short at first that long list of famous voice cast was a little off putting, wondering if they were going to turn it into some cheap fart joke laden Dreamworks crapfest. To me the voice work was wonderfully done, each numbered character had a unique voice and attributes to give them some importance and significance. The one I was most worried about was John C. Reilly just because he’s got such a unique and odd voice, in the end I think he was my favorite character in his child like wonderment and excitement.

I loved the animation in this movie, CGI has gotten to the point where the picture perfect looking world they all live in is just stale and boring looking. As hard as Pixar tries (like Earth in Wall-E) there is just something too clean about their films. This is a gritty and dirty looking future, where man has be over taken by machines, there are dead things everywhere nothing is still in tack everything seems to be hanging by a thread and it’s just amazing to behold. Shane Acker’s world is fully envisioned in this film to great extent, you just want to keep seeing more and more of it.

9 the movie group

The charachters of 9

The story is basic but never boring a majority of the film is done in the style of a silent film. They have kept the dialog to a minimum which is great, but each character is given enough to do for you to know each one differently. The rag dolls are each separate parts of a scientist’s soul in his last attempt to ensure that humanity survives the war with the machines. 9 wakes up one day a few years after 1-8 have been living in fear and struggling to survive day to day hiding from the machines. Of course 9 stirs everything up upsetting the balance of power that 1 has over all of them because 9 wants to explore and do things. 1 is the grumpy cynical cowardly old man of the group. In 9’s journey he awakens the Brain which the same scientist that made the dolls also made, but was taken from him and turned into something evil instead of the good it was meant for. The rest of the film is the dolls fighting the brain and figuring out what their purpose is.

This is a timeless tale because they decided to set it as if the apocalypse had taken place sometime between WWI and WWII. Its probably the darkest kids movie I have seen in a long time, like I said before you see decaying bodies and these dolls die in a fairly violent manner, no one is safe and the monsters created by the brain are nightmarish looking. This is a fine genre film, and I would love to see more animated films dabble in genre like this. Mainly I can’t wait to see what Shane Acker does next and I’m glad to know that Tim Burton while maybe useless in his own film making is still alive enough to recognize young and upcoming talent.

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17 responses to “9, reviewed by Koutchboom”

  1. Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

    I actually just watched this last night Koutch. That ending was a little ambiguous and I’m not sure what their “souls” going up into the sky and bringing rain has to do with ensuring humanity continues but I loved the visuals and it was one of the most unique stories I have ever seen in film.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah I think the chubby rain has something to do with creating life? As far as I could tell all vegetation was gone? The ending is ambiguous, also in the nature of wouldn’t all of them needed to have died for the scientist plan to come together? But I liked that it wasn’t some neat and tidy wraped up story.

      I loved the story and flow of it, couldn’t believe people were bitching about the story being generic? I’ve never seen anything like it.

  2. Droid says :

    In 9’s journey he awakens the Brain which the same scientist that made the dolls also made, but was taken from him and turned into something evil instead of the good it was meant for. The rest of the film is the dolls fighting the brain and figuring out what their purpose is.

    This is a timeless tale

    huh? Timeless?

    Good review Koutch. I’ve had this for a while at home. Never got round to watching it. Might do so upon your recommendation.

    • koutchboom says :

      Its actually really short as well (like Nightmare). And the animation is just amazing to see. Especially knowing that it was made for like a fraction of a Pixar budget.

      • Droid says :

        Short is good. I have to say that I’m not that big a fan of Nightmare. It’s pretty good, but I don’t fellate it like a lot of other people seem to do.

      • koutchboom says :

        Its nothing like Nightmare. There is only one musical number and its the dolls using a record player to listen to Over The Rainbow. I’m just saying that the collaborative effort that made Nightmare so good is here as well.

        Its a lot darker then that film, it really is a typical genre film more so then a kiddie cartoon

  3. koutchboom says :

    Just realized that this is one of four PG-13 rated cartoons: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), Kaena: La prophétie (2003) and Beowulf (2007).

  4. herrmilflover says :

    I love this movie, it is just really fucking cool.

    Burton is the ONLY reason there are any Nightmare comparisons, they have absolutely nothing in common except for being ‘dark’ animation, and that annoys me. Good for Burton and Timur for getting this produced, but it’s really Acker’s show.

  5. Bartleby says :

    Good review Koutch. If you remember, mine was not one of the negative reviews.

    Im not gonna get into spoilers but there was a place I thought this story was going, it seemed perfectly telgraphed, and it would have been AWESOME but for some odd reason they went with a really strange and nonsensical ending.

    Also, Koutch, you get advanced warning this time. How to Train Your Dragon is AWESOME. As in better 3D adventure movie than Avatar. No question at all if it will hold up without the 3D and not as a theater experience.

    I know you love animated films and this one is a must see.

    • koutchboom says :

      Cool, good to know. I was on the fence about this one. Unimpressed with the trailer. But I liked the idea of Fergeson voice casting. So you are saying must see in 3D? Or it doesn’t matter?

      And yeah I agree with you about that ending, but I still loved it. It doesn’t make sense, but I liked it.

      • Bartleby says :

        Koutch, you got my email? Drop me a line. I want to discuss the ending but I don’t want to spoil it here.

    • herrmilflover says :

      I’m not sure how I feel about Dragons. It looks cool but the trailer doesnt really grab me. I’m still gonna see it.
      If they dont have to ‘usb’ themselves into the fucking dragons to tame them, then just for that it’s already gonna be better than Avatar.

  6. Bartleby says :

    My wife and I were not really ecstatic about Dragons. I’m interviewing the director’s next week so thats why we saw it so early. I expected it to be usual dreamworks lameness, but it’s not. Nice thing is lame jokes are kept to a real minimum. It isn’t bufoonish humor, there will be a joke once in a while to lighten the mood, but the story is basically handled rather seriously.

    It’s a boy and his pet movie intersected with one of the war between two races stories. In some ways, since you appreciate the comparisons Koutch, it is kind of the same story as Avatar without the environmental treatise and the war allegories.

    I see what you mean now about Baruchel, he’s just eh. I thought his voice was too whiny in bits and didn’t always match the character but that’s a very slight problem.

    Fergusen I didn’t recognize on first go-through til the end. After the movie, I was talking with the rest of the audience and they thought it had been Mike Meyers doing the voice. I assume because Meyers fake scottish sounds like Fergusen’s real Scottish. But he does fine. He’s not doing anything wild and crazy, and he’s not drawing a big red “HHYYMME CREGG FUUGAASOON!” line around his character or anything.

    Voice casting was more or less invisible with the exception of one: Gerard Butler as the head viking. They did that REALLY WELL. He’s this big, burly Celt with a great red beard and it really seems like there’s acting going on there and not just voicework. I’ll put it this way, he’s a more plausible badass in Dragon then he was in 300.

    The dragon, Toothless, is a great character. Not as cartoonlike as the others and he has alot of great facial ticks and character quirks. Honestly, hes one of the really great friendly movie creatures, like E.T. sort of.

    When it was over a few people pointed out he had alot of physical similarities to Stitch from Lilo and Stitch (the guy’s first movie).

    The 3D is worth it because it’s again the immersive kind, and there’s alot of flying scenes in the film, and they are more engaging and action-oriented than the Avatar ones.

    I think for kids who see this in the theater, this, even more than something like Avatar, will be for them like Star Wars was for us. There’s more to relate to.

    It’s easily the best thing Dreamworks animation has ever done.

  7. Bartleby says :

    Koutch, I’ve got several copies of 9 promo art books. Would you like me to send you one? Same goes for the rest of you guys. I’m getting free swag and what not, including dvds and blurays from time to time. I’ll try to get some out to everyone as I can.

    • koutchboom says :

      Man that would be AWESOME for 9, I would be one of the movies I’d actually like one of those for. I was actually surprised I stumbled on some random web page that reviewed promo art books and there is one for almost every movie. Just bizarre shit, like Trick R’Treat got a art book made for it? Lemme see if I can find the page. I’ll e-mail you my address, thanks a lot man.

    • herrmilflover says :

      Really? if you’ve got 9 art books to share, I’m definitely interested. Hell, I’d even pay the postage!

      let me know…. herrmilflover@yahoo.ca

  8. Tom_Bando says :

    This sounded like derivative junk to be honest, had kinda interesting visuals but from what I heard didn’t really DO much w/ it. I’ll be sure to give it a lookie if it shows up on TV though.

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