September 21, 2009 12:00 PM


Voices by Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer | PG-13 |


It’s a postapocalyptic world in which giant, marauding machines rule. The clanking heaps of metal hunt down and kill any rival creatures that show a trace of life. Sound familiar? Think Terminator Salvation, War of the Worlds or Transformers. Or even Wall-E. Battling the machines are a tiny, ragtag band of survivors, who rely on their wits and gumption. None of the good guys resemble Christian Bale, Tom Cruise or even Shia LaBeouf. Rather, the film’s plucky title character, #9 (voiced winningly by Wood), looks like a Lilliputian Teletubby made of burlap, as do his comrades, creations of a now-dead scientist.

The movie dazzles visually—in 9’s publicity handout, first-time feature director Shane Acker refers to his innovative digital animation process as “virtual puppetry”—but its plot and characters, disappointingly, verge on standard-issue. The result is that while 9 succeeds at serving up a fabulous feast for the eyes, it provides far less sustenance for one’s heart.

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