Pamela Pettler’s screenplay is a letdown—the overall concept (Acker gets the story credit) is intriguing, but the storyline proper is thin, a series of to and fro lumbering, and the dialogue consists primarily of short, dull declaratives. The voice cast (including Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connolly, and Martin Landau) do their best to inject some personality into their characters, but those numbers on their backs end up pretty much being their defining traits.
There are scenes here that work—the celebratory sequence, with its smashing use of “Over the Rainbow,” is splendid, and the ending is rather wonderful, in its own haunting way. In that scene, 9 finally makes a connection with its audience that transcends mere aesthetics. That doesn’t happen before then, however. Ultimately, it’s a film where you admire the craftsmanship and the skill of the filmmaking, but you just can’t quite engage with it on an emotional or intellectual level.
"9" is currently in wide release.