In a post-apocalyptic world, the only humanity remaining exists in small manmade dolls infused with the only real remnants of life.

The Great Machine, which was to bring mankind into the future, instead sparked social unrest and led to the annihilation of the entire human population. In an attempt to salvage the legacy of civilization, a scientist gave life to a group of small creations. #9 (Elijah Wood) awakens alone in the scientist’s room but it is immediately obvious he is endowed with human qualities, such as pity, fear and compassion. He soon finds those that came before him: #1 (Christopher Plummer) is the group’s long-time leader; #2 (Martin Landau) is a kindly but frail inventor; #3 and #4 are scholarly twins that mostly communicate non-verbally with each other; #5 (John C. Riley) is a bold but kind engineer; #6 (Crispin Glover) is an artist plagued by visions; #7 (Jennifer Connelly) is a brave and self-sufficient woman warrior; and #8 (Fred Tatasciore) is a bully and #1’s enforcer. The “stitchpunk” creations must combine their individual strengths to outwit and fight the still-functioning machines that continue to seek to destroy all traces of life on Earth.

9 is an intriguing tale of hope as the power of community and belief that one person can make a difference against impossible odds drives #9 in a quest to defeat the mechanical beast that threatens their existence. On the other hand, #1’s constant negativity is a powerful discourager; his favourite response to #9’s resolve is “It’s too late.”

The animated steampunk-style is fascinating. The darkened atmosphere and tones of green and black throughout the entire post-apocalyptic world is stunning. The feeling that life has been almost entirely drained from everything is evident in everything they see and touch. In addition, the detail in the barren landscape with its debris and textures, and the difficulties it poses for the eight-inch creations to traverse through shows a lot of consideration.

Alternatively, the story elements are not very original. The most apparent contributor is The Terminator mythology and the rise of the machines versus humans. Similarly, The Matrix trilogy appears to be an obvious inspiration for the Fabrication Machine, which is a multi-armed mechanical beast that creates new machines, and the attempted consumption of the stitchpunks.

Furthermore, the straight-forward plot is simple enough for children to understand but the situations the characters find themselves in often appear too frightening for a child to watch. Conversely, it is an interesting viewing for adults but the simplicity of the narrative occasionally makes the film somewhat dull.

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