CONTAINS SPOILERS AND EEEEK! AAARGH! SCARY THINGS!
It may be about a bunch of dolls that come to life in the absence of humans, but this digital animation piece is a thousand miles from the happy shiny Toy Story. Rather it's a slice of post-apocalyptic grimness in which a nonet of little rag dolls are the only life left on a wasteland Earth following a global conflict that wiped out humanity.
They're the creation of a scientist as an act of atonement for having built the giant machine that was hijacked by a Third Reich-style military only to have it turn against them and wreck the planet. Until the titular 9 (the number written on his back) inadvertently switches the big machine on again and it sets about its basic world domination programming once more, and 9 and his newly discovered brethren have to stop it by themselves. It's an incredibly dark, bleak, no-laughs movie whose strengths lie in the detail of this horrible world and the monstrous creations that inhabit it. Remember the bit in Toy Story where they go next door and the boy Sid has mutilated all his toys and bolted them together into new and macabre forms? Well, imagine those mash-up monsters, but completely evil and the size of a battleship. And mechanical monster spiders, mechanical monsters pterodactyls, mechanical monster dogs. The BBFC gave it a 12A (12 on video) as it really is too intense for little kiddies and I think in this instance they were right. It's NOT a children's film.
The voice cast isn't based around big star names and it didn't bother me that I couldn't place them (they include Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly) simply because I was involved enough with the characters and the story, and the vocal artistes' weren't doing comedy schtick. I really enjoyed it - it's short, fast and scary.