December 10, 2009 -- In the future, mankind is destroyed by robotic artificial intelligence machines, but human values live on in a few small “stitchpunk” creatures, tiny human-like artificial creatures with human souls that look like dolls made out of burlap. They wage a war with the remaining few artificial intelligence creatures to determine who will survive to roam the earth. This is the premise of “9,” an animated film with a unique look, but a familiar story line.
The story, of course, is very similar to the “Terminator” series of films which also feature a future war between machines and men. This story, however, is less like science fiction and more like fantasy. The stitchpunk creatures seem more like magic creations, with no discernible source of power to operate them. There is also the matter of transferring a person's soul into a machine and the idea of the human soul as a sort of power source. The story advances the idea that a human soul can be put into a machine. However, when the same soul is put into another machine, the machine still does not seem to develop a soul. Even when the machine absorbs several souls, it still shows no humanity. This does not make sense.
The basic story has the little burlap stitchpunk man, number 9, awakening to find the world in ruins. He happens to find another of his kind, who is captured by a robotic artificial intelligence creature, along with a mysterious talisman of power discovered by 9. 9 is determined to rescue his fellow stitchpunk and retrieve the talisman. In the process, however, one of the stitchpunks is killed and the talisman reawakens a kind of doomsday robot who is capable of building more robots. This disaster reinforces the cautionary bent of the leader of the stitchpunk tribe, 1, who urges everyone to hide until the threat goes away. 9, however, wants to fight it out. Although 1 has ruled for a long time, the stitchpunks decide to fight, for no good reason. The rest of the story involves a battle of survival.
The story doesn't make a lot of sense, and for that reason it doesn't quite turn out the way I expected it to. The film's artwork and production design are unique. It stands alone as a vision of the future. The characters are very sketchy, led by 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), the princess warrior 7 (voiced by Jennifer Connelly), the cautious leader 1 (Christopher Plummer) and the inventor, 2 (Martin Landau). The rest of the characters are even less well developed. This film rates a C.
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