9 is probably one of the nicest surprises to come out of this summer. It's not a big movie, well it's not a blockbuster in the sense that we've become accustomed to, but it's solid storytelling with a beautiful vision. It's a movie with a big message and a lot of heart, and when it came down to it, I was left wanting more.
9 takes us into a frightening post-apocalytpic world where humans no longer exist. In some ways, the story of how we got there is similar to James Cameron's "Terminator" vision, one in which humans have let their connection to technology get the better of them. This time there is no John Connor; the last remaining vestige of humanity, or at least some form of it, is in 9 ragdolls who have been granted a living existence. The audience is immediately thrown into the action as 9, the doll, races towards something safe and on the way finds something familiar.
There's little that's predictable about this movie, least of which is the visuals. It's rare enough that a PG-13 animated movie gets green-lit, and even rarer when it lives up to the hype. There is violence, and there are plenty of scary images, thanks to wonderfully imaginative and totally creepy baddies, but more than that there's a great heart and optimism at the center of the story that keeps the audience hoping everything will be ok. And that's the even funnier thing, that in a world so completely foreign, I dare you to not get attached to at least one of the characters. Brilliantly voiced by Elijah Wood (9), Christopher Plummer (1), Martin Landau (2), John C. Reilly (5), Crispin Glover (6); however my personal favorite was Jennifer Connelly's 7. 7 is a wonderful mix of Legolas, Ripley, and a little bit of Princess Leia, all of which add up to some great fight sequences and one-liners. No matter which is your favorite, though, these dolls are every bit as human and tangible as any actor, and maybe even more human than the girls from Sorority Row.
While I enjoyed what was on the screen, I was left hoping that at some point in the future there will be more. Make no mistake, Oscar-nominated director Shane Acker tells a complete story, I would have just liked to see some scenes expanded, see a little deeper into the world. But maybe we're supposed to be left wanting more sometimes. I know I usually complain about having everything spelled out, but it's a rarity when I actually WANT to know more. However, what Acker does deliver on is the idea of humanity, and what it is that can save us. Like humans, this movie goes deeper than just the surface, and the soul of it is great enough to make it definitely worth a trip to the movies.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Raggedy Anne's (and not your momma's rag doll either)