What stars Elijah Wood and contains a hero's journey fighting against all odds against a red-eyed monster and where his party numbers up to nine?

But wait, some of his party die. There's a couple of old stage and screen actors lending their talents. There's a fight on a bridge, there's winged beasts and a talisman that rules all nine souls.

If you guessed 9 then you're right. If you guess something else...well, you're right as well but let's stay current, shall we? The similarities between Lord of the Rings and 9 are mainly Elijah Wood's fault. His voice - at times pleading, at others resolved - is so ingrained into our film going subconscious that it's hard to picture him doing anything but his Frodo role. At times during 9 I was actually waiting for him to mutter something from The Fellowship. Wood is sadly one of those actors whose careers will be ever tied to the one ring. It will take an Herculean effort and so many films over such a length of time to remind us that he's able to do other things.

But first, he has to do other things. If he continues to be the wide-eyed manchild who sets upon a nigh impossible mission to save Middle Earth or Post Machine Earth or even Penguin Earth, he's going to always be remembered as Frodo, just with different outfits.

9, then, ends up being a very short, action packed reminder of what Wood did in Fellowship and the rest. 9 in and off itself is charming and fun and entertaining. It is not thought provoking or ground breaking. Its thickly veiled messages are a spoof meant to eliminate themselves from the story entirely. This leaves you with the feeling that you've possibly watched a 79 minute commercial for a unique line of toys.

The movie's attention to detail was stunning. All the doll characters sprang to life and each was gifted with their own stunning personalities that had only a little to do with the voice acting. The screenplay and direction was really incredible. The pace and tension the movie builds and releases was enough to keep me riveted and a little sad when it was over so soon. But in the end, its length and Wood's ubiquitous voice reminded me only too well that there wasn't much of a story to be told.

It's a definite theater viewing movie, just make sure you go some place that has good food or go to a matinee. Otherwise you might feel cheated. Also, the role of the scientist in charge of building the big thing the military wants to use as a weapon? The actor's name is Oppenheimer.

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