Mankind has pursued technology too far and been destroyed by it. Again. A small group of resistance fighters carry the hopes of all mankind. Again. But this time mankind is represented by 9 small stitched toys.
This is one of those films that will divide opinion. It looks fantastic. Imagine a story drawn lovingly frame by frame by French graphic artist Moebius and then pulled together as a movie by Delicatessen era Jean-Pierre Jeunet and you will begin to picture how this film looks (tonally I was reminded of Delicatessen and Alien Resurrection a number of times). There is so much attention to detail, like the dust motes floating in the scene where 9 first wakes up, and the tooling scratches on the brass tools used by the inventor. Stitchpunk, the style has been called but that's the characters; their world is very much steampunk.
So far, so good. If, like me, you can drool over the visuals, that might be enough for you. In terms of storytelling, the assistance of producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov retain a cinematic style that keeps the interest and there are genuinely atmospheric moments. The problem is that the story is a familiar one (as per the opening paragraph of this review), the only difference being the graphic style and the unusual characters. I watched 'Up' only a few days ago and had completely the opposite experience: I was moved by the story and stopped noticing the visuals after a few minutes. During '9' I admired the visuals without becoming lost in the story.
This is not a film for small children but given some of the dark stuff on the Cartoon Network nowadays, 7 and upwards I would expect to enjoy it.
The limited edition comes in a hardback book. Not with a book, in the book! It's a nice touch and the book is printed on quality paper. The content is largely scenes from the film with some storyboards, character designs and occasional soundbites from director or producers. Whether you'll appreciate it depends pretty much on your opinion of the film, i.e. it looks nice but there's not much content.
The Blu-ray transfer is excellent with lots of detail in the predominantly dark scenes, sound steerage is also good with lots going on in the surround channels. Extras include a commentary, deleted scenes and featurettes but also the original short film that was extended to make the movie.