Normally, when I think of animated film in America, I think of bright, glossy, happy-go-lucky "kiddie" fare the likes of a Pixar movie (Up, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.) Sure, there may be adult themes, jokes or allegory presented in these movies. There may even be an insidious villain or a pragmatic moral to be learned from these features. But, in general, the movies are made with children in mind.
That may very well also be the case with 9. But this animated feature stands-out in that, perhaps, instead of simply entertaining the children, its focus in on scaring the crap out of them as well.
In a post-apocalyptic world, where humans have concocted their own demise through the over-development of and blind reliance on technology, there survives a small population of nine "stitchpunks." These little creatures -- made of burlap sacks, pillowcases and additional odds-and-ends -- are humanity's last hope. Inside of them, they carry the remaining vestiges of a human race long-since annihiliated by machine.
This is probably what the people over at Terminator: Salvation were hoping their movie was going to be like. But, alas, 9 improved upon their premise and succeeding at developing it into a story that is engaging, poignant, and thrilling. It does, indeed, teach a valuable lesson to both the adults watching and the children who are brave enough to weather the dark storyline.
In the end, of course, there remains a silver lining in a cloud-filled sky and hope, as we've come to learn, is always the last human trait to be wiped away from existence.
9 manages to be a story for both children and adults without pandering to either age subset. The voice talent is stellar and the action sequences are brilliantly plotted and executed. The animation itself is a feast to the eyes, despite what you initially might regard as a bland, mono-chromatic landscapes of brown shades. But where the films lacks color in sight, it paints a grim, disturbing yet ultimately uplifting picture with its inherent optimism about the heights our world can head into after its fallen on its head.
Be cautious when watching this film. Don't expect the usual trappings of adorable talking dogs, fishes or humans with super-human powers. Don't expect to a bright palette of color bursting in every frame. Don't expect a lively cast of characters or a mindless plot. Expect more depth, more to think about; more to chew on; more than just a kid's movie. And expect this movie to steal the big prize from Up come next awards season.