For a movie debut, director Shane Acker's animation 9 is surprisingly mature and well-plotted. The thrilling 79 minutes are an expansion of an Oscar-nominated short, and share the same haunting vibe and stylised graphics as that film.
There is something here for everyone - life lessons for grown-ups about the value of humanity, while younger viewers will be amazed by the breathtaking battles. The film was clearly a labour of love for the director.
The Great Machine was invented to help the human race, but something goes wrong. It is now on a mission to destroy mankind. Humanity's only hope falls on a group of nine tiny sack dolls which were brought to life by a scientist. The Great Machine's allies are hunting them down, too, to take their souls.
The dolls have distinctive personality traits that make them a relatable and convincing representation of humanity. But the most interesting ones, like the artistic 6 and scholarly twins 3 and 4 barely have time to shine.
Jam-packed with fights, there are too few action-free scenes to enable enjoyment of the beautiful, detailed graphics, or for the characters to bond. What's more, every-end-is-another-beginning resolution is far too cliched for a creative, enchanting concept like 9.
This is mostly satisfying, but an extra 15 minutes would have allowed the characters to fully develop and the plot to hint at post-war life.
YP rating: 4/5