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Not to be confused with District 9 but aimed at pretty much the same audience, 9 opens with a solemn voice bemoaning that mankind “had such gifts, but we squandered our intelligence on our blind pursuit of technology.” One could direct that same criticism at the work of filmmaker Shane Acker, whose debut feature clearly shows talent and vision but little idea of what to do with them. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which mankind has been destroyed. (I won’t tell you how, but for a change it’s not atom bombs or disease.) All that is left are dolls, made out of everyday materials like burlap, pillow ticking and buttons. They have life and souls but no knowledge of their origin or purpose other than that there are machines that want to kill them. The movie begins with the awakening of 9 (each doll has a number stitched into its back), who wanders through the destroyed world until he finds his peers. He is unwilling to remain isolated in a safe environment with them and insists on searching for the meaning of existence, even at the cost of their lives. If this sounds vague, that’s because I’m trying not to give away any of the plot: It’s not terribly interesting, but it’s all this film has. The designs of the characters and the ruined world they inhabit (oaky, it’s Berlin) are interesting to look at for awhile, but they don’t get you too far through the movie’s brief 70 minutes (77 if you sit through the credits). Where Acker and co-scripter Pamela Pettler should be providing characters and dramatic themes, they give us only long, tiresome action scenes. Voices are provided by Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer, and Martin Landau, all of whom can rest assured that their work here won’t be held against them.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for 9

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