9’s Precocious Puppets Persevere in Post-Apocalyptic Purgatory
It certainly seems reasonable to presume that a film about spunky sackcloth puppets would be perfectly suitable for children, but Shane Acker’s first foray into feature films, while beautiful to behold, is truly the stuff of nightmares. His new epic in miniature, simply titled 9, chronicles a small band of mysteriously animated dolls, and their fight for survival against a decaying world.
Our story begins with the last of these dolls waking for the very first time in a ramshackle laboratory, with his human creator dead on the floor below. Voiced by Elijah Wood, the newly alive figurine — also marked with the number 9 — surveys his surroundings and discovers a battle blasted landscape of ruined buildings and a dust-choked sky.
When 9 encounters another figure similarly sewn from fabric and found items — Martin Landau — his joy is quickly tempered by a predatory beast. From there, 9’s day just keeps going from bad to worse. The vocal talents of Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plumber, Crispin Glover and John C. Riley breathe life into other stitchpunk figures met by 9 along his journey.
Much like the protagonists, the film itself is beautifully crafted by experts in their craft, but the relentlessly gloomy world that is so meticulously assembled may take a toll on children and adults not inured to the crueler realities of our world. However, those who can see beyond the desolate backdrop will find a classic fable of heroism and personal sacrifice, in 1:10 scale.
Written by Jeff in September of 2009. Last edited September 2014.