Saturday, December 15, 2012


Originally an amazing independent animated short by Shane Acker which took him four years to create, it was turned into a full-length motion picture produced by Tim Burton with Acker acting as director. This movie basically juggernauts the concept of "stitchpunk".

Set in a post-apocalpytic Earth, the film opens up with a small mechanical humanoid burlap sack(which looks like he's out of Little Big Planet)named 9 awakens in a dilapidated building and finds a strange talisman. After realizing the world is in ruins, he encounters 2, another robot like himself. 2 recognizes the talisman as something special, but gets captured by a large robot cat monster. 9 tries to go after him, but is taken in by the other sack-people, each one of which has its own number. Their leader 1 forbids a rescue attempt on 2, but 9 heads out with 2's friend 5. They manage to destroy the cat-bot with the help of the adventurous 7, and 2 is saved. However, 9 gets the talisman and instictively connects it to a large apparatus called the Fabrication Machine activates and sucks the life out of 2 in the process. 9, 7, and 5 run to an abandonned library run by 3 and 4 where they learn the history of the Fabrication Machine. It was made for a dictator-run country who took it from a scientist to create weapons of mass destruction, which of course later on turn on humanity, where in the end they wipe each other out. The scientist who made it survived long enough to put his soul into to the nine seperate robots which make up the little stitch people. The Machine creates a flying robot to capture the other #s, so they seek to stop the it at its source, but not without 7 and 8 getting captured. They manage to free 7 before torching the place, but 8 gets its soul sucked too. After believing they defeated the enemy, the remaining #s settle back for one of the only really cheery moments on the whole movie, only to find out that the Machine survived, which takes 5 and 6 souls too. 9 goes back to the scientist's room where he first awoke to find the secret of the Machine's power. 9 manages to rip the talisman from it after 1 hastily sacrafices himself. The remaining #s then set the souls of the departed ones free into the heavens.

The movie is a pretty direct adaptation of Acker's original short movie, except it actually adds the other #s into it, and expands on the whole reason for why the world is the way it is. The animation is very well executed in this, although not much on the Pixar level. It might give off the appearance of a stop-motion production, which is nothing new for Tim Burton, even if it seems to help and sometimes hurt the film in when there are times that they could've elaborated more on the plot and characters instead of going from one chase scene to another. But, the characters are really intriguing, and the dark feel of this forbiding world they live in. There's also a fine sense of scale for these diminutive robots in a land of dead giants. It's a great achievement for having an independent production turned into a feature film. The only real major problem with the movie is that it is a little too short, as minus the closing credits it clocks in about 70 minutes, where they could've added a little more interaction with some of the characters and expanded the plot a little more. But, I'd still recommend this for someone looking for a mature sci-fi adventure film, with some great metaphysical aspects to keep the philosphers happy too.

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