Writer/director Michael Hoffman's film adaptation of Jay Parini's novel doesn't effectively rally the strength of its accomplished actors. Whenever the action abandons Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer)and wife Sofya (Helen Mirren), it's as if the film regresses into a teen love story. Grade: C-plus.
For the first time in a decade, Terry Gilliam has made a film that delivers on his reputation as a master of cinematic fantasy. While he hasn't made a flawless film, Gilliam manages to preserve the memory of Heath Ledger (appearing here in his final screen performance) in an appropriate and inspired way. Grade: B.
The title refers to the number scrawled on the back of a rag doll (voiced by Elijah Wood) who wakes up with no knowledge of the world. Wandering through a crumbling, corpse-strewn city, he soon spots a similar figure marked as 2 (Martin Landau) and learns that a dangerous mechanized predator stalks the streets. Because '9' is an animated feature, it’s inevitable that some potential viewers are going to assume it's kid-friendly, which it most decidedly is not. Grade: B.