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Review: 9

A compassionate doctor leaves his legacy on a world destroyed by a war between man and machine, through these nine hand-stitched puppets the doctor lives on.

9 (Elijah Wood) wakes up in a daze, there are no humans left in this post-war world. 9 is not alone though, he has eight predecessors to keep him company. 1 (Christopher Plummer) is the de facto leader of the group, but 7 (Jennifer Connelly) often subverts his will. The rest of the cast are unique, but only in voice, their appearance is hard to tell apart in the more harried scenes.

9, against 1's wishes, wants to explore the regions surrounding their home. He eventually convinces the others, but not at the cost of losing one of their ranks on the trip back.

The doctor created these puppets to create some semblance of goodwill, but the puppets' world is dominated by a misanthropic entity called the Beast. The Beast is the leftover from a Dictator and 1-9 worry for the fate of the doll who didn't make it home. The Beast is rumored to steal souls.

A talented voice cast consisting of Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Martin Landau and Christopher Plummer strive to give their characters a sense of life, but most of the concern of the story is placed on the red-eyed monsters that plague the nine burlap sack dolls.

Too adult to be a child's film and too child-like for adults to enjoy, 9's market audience will be hard to find. Director Shane Acker really seems to care about the characters hounded by evil machines in a post-apocalyptic future but the love he shares doesn't quite make it to the audience.

Adapting a short to a feature-length film is difficult and the filler scenes that make up 9's short runtime are pretty monotonous. Venturing from one occupied territory to another should be more entertaining. Here, Acker could really get into visual flourish, but the sequences feel copy and pasted.

Apparently the film is much better film under the influence though. The row sitting behind me in the theatre got quite a kick out of the characters' name being numbers. Another scene where 6 (Crispin Glover) sits and massages his head with a magnet hit them in stitches.

Between this, Whiteout and Tyler Perry's latest movie, it's been a slow week for film. It may be a better use of time to go through your home collections and watch something you have been putting off for a while.

*1/2 out of ****

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