As a long-time fan of animation, I like to believe (misguided or not) that I have high standards and am not easily impressed. But this creation blew me away, so much so that I felt compelled to write my first ever review on this site. Please forgive me for the abundance of clichés that may follow.
9 reminded me strongly of my favourite short-work, Joacquin Baldwin's award-winning Sebastian's Voodoo. The detail, backgrounds, colours, forms, the dark 'grubbiness' of the overall look, the minimal but meaningful character expressions and sublime use of light and shadow were pure heaven for the eyes.
Imagine, if you will, a strange but beautiful lovechild of The Borrowers, Voodoo, Alien, Corpse Bride and War of the Worlds; and you have 9.
The atmospheric score and use of imagery from various real political movements and historic events added to the post-apocalyptic, almost Gothic feel. To prevent it from becoming too heavy, it is interwoven with a deliciously subtle humour and creativity - such as the use of ordinary household objects as weapons and items of clothing. You can tell that Tim Burton had more than a sprinkling of input.
Yes, the storyline is simple (which is why I am puzzled that so many viewers found the ending difficult to grasp) and the characters could have done with more development. That said, I immediately fell in love with 2, 4 and 5 with no knowledge of their past - a difficult task to achieve. And it would be hard to create nine full-blooded personalities with back-history involved in a complex plot in only 80 minutes.
Which brings me to timing and the only reason I knocked a star off - I felt it ended too quickly and I just did not want it to.
It is a rare sort of exquisite film-making that makes you want to serve it on a plate and eat it raw, enjoying every last mouthful. Then savour it all over again because you know you've missed so much in all the glorious detail.
It is a film that stays with you long after it ends. I would urge anyone with a love of the unusual to experience it.