MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +4

Content: +2 1/2

Voices: Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Elijah Wood, Martin Landau, Tom Kane, Christopher Plummer. Post-apocalyptic CG-animated film (not for kids). Written by Shane Acker, Pamela Pettler. Directed by Shane Acker. Produced by Tim Burton.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The time is the too-near future.  Powered and enabled by the invention known as the Great Machine, the world's machines have turned on mankind and sparked social unrest, decimating the human population before being largely shut down.

But as our world fell to pieces, a mission began to salvage the legacy of civilization; a group of small creations was given the spark of life by a scientist in the final days of humanity, and they continue to exist post-apocalypse.  Another of their own, #9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), emerges and displays leadership qualities that may help them survive and possibly even thrive.  The conflicted but resilient tribe already includes #1 (Christopher Plummer), a domineering war veteran and the group's longtime leader; #2 (Martin Landau), a kindly but now-frail inventor; #3 & #4, scholarly twins who communicate nonverbally and mostly with each other; #5 (John C. Reilly), a stalwart and nurturing engineer; #6 (Crispin Glover), an erratic artist beset by visions; #7 (Jennifer Connelly), a brave and self-sufficient warrior; and #8 (Fred Tatasciore), the none-too-bright muscle and enforcer for #1.

With their group so few, these "stitchpunk" creations must summon individual strengths well beyond their own proportions in order to outwit and fight against still-functioning machines, one of which is a marauding mechanized beast.  In the darkness just before the dawn, #9 rallies everyone of his number to band together.

While showcasing a stunning "steampunk"-styled visual brilliance, 9 dynamically explores the will to live, the power of community, and how one soul can change the world.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Wondrous! People are gone, but robots made out of discards suddenly become animated and remind of us of the best qualities found in mankind, qualities that need to be nurtured and cherished – a search for truth, a caring for others, our willingness to lay down our own lives for others, and a realization that there is a spiritual aspect to existence that should not be ignored.

It’s an allegory, perhaps a bit too action fueled for my taste, but no less parable enhanced, paying homage to many a sci-fi great, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds to the ‘50s B-classic Forbidden Planet. With its spiritual quality and religious icons and its metaphor-laced dialogue (“One must be sacrificed for the many”), it causes you to think. This in itself is remarkable, as most films these days are designed to deaden the thinking process rather than activate it. Like the Twilight Zone-tinged Wall-E, there are mature themes that address the question, “Why are we here?” For years in Japan, animated films have embraced adult material and been accepted. We shall see if grownup American audiences find it a genre they look forward to seeing.

Right now, films like UP, Bolt, Caroline, and Wall-E are saying more about our culture and the hope of mankind than any of their live action counterparts.

MOVIES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE REALLY, REALLY BAD by Phil Boatwright, is an incisive, often humorous revelation of the cinema’s cultural impact, one loaded with DVD suggestions for the entire family – even moms! For more info on the book, click on the home page.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Focus Features

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Violent imagery as our hero robots are chased by huge hostile robots; some of our little group are killed, usually by sacrificing their own “lives” for their friends.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: It is an action-driven story and may be disturbing for little ones.

Running Time: 79 minutes
Intended Audience: Older kids and up

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