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Published on March 2nd, 2009 | by Sean Bell


WonderCon 2009: Focus Feature's '9' featuring Elijah Wood

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Yesterday at WonderCon, in between the panels for Star Trek and Pixar’s Up was a panel for Focus Feature’s “9,” based on the awesome Oscar nominated short by Shane Acker.

9 is a dark post-apocalyptic tale about a team of rag dolls that battle for humanity. If this premise sounds a little fantastic, it’s because it is. But before you make up your mind that this isn’t for you, check out the excellent Acker short that I mentioned above.

The film stars Elijah Wood as 9 (character with titular name), Christopher Plummer, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Martin Landau and Crispin Glover.

I hadn’t been following the development of this project that much, but that’s sure to change once I saw the world premiere extended clip (about 4 to 5 minutes) they debuted at the Con (only part of this clip was part of the ‘4FOCUS’ text message marketing campaign a few months back). The audience was rewarded with a long action-packed clip that saw the rag dolls fighting a bad-ass mechanized “winged beast.” The animation and overall look and feel of the environments was amazingly impressive. I also haven’t seen such well done animated action sequences probably since The Incredibles. As for the sound – this movie is going to knock your socks off. Overall, it was an exhausting clip and by the time it was over, I felt like I’d been through a lot.

The panel itself was pretty insightful. Aside from endless questions about Frodo/Lord of the Rings, there were some good comments by Wood and animation director Joe Ksander. Ksander spoke about casting and adapting the movie version to have voices (the short didn’t have voice overs). He also spoke about how it was easier to sell the concept of such a dark animated film because of the success that Acker achieved.

On the topic of being introduced to the film, Wood added “The project was brought to my attention and along with the short film. That was kinda all that I needed. I read the script and thought it was exciting. I was so excited by what Shane had done visually. I wanted to be part of his vision because I thought it was so unique.”

Wood also spoke about the challenges of voice acting versus live action. Most of the lines were recording using headphones to hear other actor’s lines while select others he got the opportunity to be in the studio with Connelly, Landau and Reilly. In those cases, it was easier to bounce lines off the other actors.

“9” releases in theaters everywhere on September 9, 2009.

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