9 (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 6-Apr-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Animation
Audio Commentary-Feature Commentary
Featurette-"9" - The Long And Short Of It
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On Tour with Shane Acker
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Look of 9
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Acting Out
Short Film-9 -The Original Short
Deleted Scenes-Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 79:25 (Case: 76)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shane Acker
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Christopher Plummer
Martin Landau
John C. Reilly
Crispin Glover
Jennifer Connelly
Fred Tatasciore
Elijah Wood
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Deborah Lurie
Nick Kenway
Mindy Marin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

When a motionless 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood) is suddenly brought to life, he finds his elderly creator deceased. He is voiceless and unaware of the wide-spread devastation which has just occurred.

As 9 cautiously ventures outside, he desperately tries to find a sign of life and happens upon 2 (voiced by Martin Landau) an old soul, who shares the same internal mechanical structure and physical appearance of a ‘sack-doll’ as 9. However as 2 tries to help 9 regain his voice, they are unexpectedly attacked by a mechanical beast, who hunts their kind.

2 is cruelly dragged away into the “emptiness,” while 9 finds himself in the make-shift sanctuary surrounded by the kindly, battle-ravaged engineer 5 (voiced by John C. Reilly) and 8 (voiced by Fred Tatasciore), who is built physically stronger then the others and is the brutal henchman of 1 (voiced by Christopher Plummer), the self-appointed leader of those who remain. 1 speaks of a recent war which has forced their kind into hiding, few have stayed together, like 6 (voiced by Crispin Glover) a reclusive artist, whose prophecy is ignored by the others while 7 (voiced by Jennifer Connelly) a daring warrior who walks the desolate landscape alone, willingly left. Yet 9 is intent on retrieving 2 and despite the obvious dangers, he wills 5 and 7 along with him, much to 1’s disdain.

9 is based on the 2005 Academy Award nominated short film of the same name, written and directed by Shane Acker. Tim Burton and Timur Bekmanbetov in part produced 9, and despite the minor plot/character differences between the original short film and the feature film, 9 remains completely derived from Acker’s dark imagination. What makes 9 an enjoyable cinematic experience is the film’s array of likeable characters, particularly 2 and 3, the bookish twins who are unable to speak and instead project images and memories through their eyes, which are made of flickering projector lens'.

The designs of each of Acker’s characters tell a visual story of their pasts – for example 5 has one eye – he possibly had been attacked by one of the many beasts who roam the land, while the cloth which protects 2 is quickly deteriorating, he is elderly and perhaps too has had his fair share of run-ins which the beasts. 7 wears a feather and a skull helmet, a symbol of independence and fearlessness, while the larger 8 who bully’s the others in the group, curiously when alone, places a magnet over his mechanical body, enjoying the stimulation. The bleak landscape of 9 references World War II, under the guise of a battle between machine and man and features several action chase sequences, as the creations try to understand the reason for their current existence.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The computer-generated animated feature is presented in 1080p/VC-1 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen transfer.

The transfer in short is flawless – each of the desolate environments of the feature film are presented in vivid detail. The dark colour palette remains clear, sharp and defined – from the uneven stitching and variety of woven cloth fabric which feature in the character designs, to the sharp, gleaming metal of the beasts, to the devastated landscape which is composed of ruined buildings, assorted rumble and a dim polluted skyline.

The contrasting burgundy red light of the mechanical beasts, literally lights up the screen, as does the bright green light, which represents the life within Acker’s creations. Importantly the blacks remain clean and distinct as are the flickering lit eyes of the characters. Acker’s world is rich and painstakingly detailed, and with this transfer there really is a lot on show. This Blu-ray title includes optional English subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The English DTS-HD Master Audio is in short excellent. From the subtle sounds of the flickering shutters of each of the characters’ eyes, to the enveloping big-bang sound effects which accompany the action set pieces, this soundtrack proves to be an enjoyable experience.

Bass remains strong throughout the feature film, and the voices are clear and distinct. The landscape of Acker’s world is wide and empty and the encompassing soundtrack replicates the sounds of this open environment well.

The score features several iconic Danny Elfman themes, but it is Deborah Lurie’s original score which drives the numerous action sequences of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Animation

The Main Menu features a short animated sequence, featuring scenes from the feature film. The Universal style menu, allows the user to quickly navigate between the many special features, scene selections and audio options available on the disc.

Commentary with Shane Acker and Crew

An engaging and animated commentary featuring Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Loughlin and editor Nick Kenway. The enthusiastic crew talk in detail about creating 9 from a production point-of-view, and the thematic concerns of the feature film. It is a great commentary which explores and opens up various subtle details and themes of the feature film.

9 -- The Long and Short of It (16:28 - HD)

A featurette which explores the challenge of producing a feature film from a short film. Features interviews with Acker, Burton and Pamela Pettler (screen writer of Corpse Bride).

On Tour with Shane Acker (5:36 - HD)

A tour of the Starz Animation workhouse during the extensive production of 9.

The Look of 9 (13:12 - HD)

The political elements of 9 are explored in depth in this featurette, and in particular the design of the post-apocalyptic environments.

Acting Out (4:54 - HD)

The creation of Acker’s ‘dolls’ - how they were brought to life, via animation and voice.

9 -- The Original Short (10:33 - 4x3 HD)

The original Academy Award nominated short featuring another great commentary from Acker and animator Joe Ksander.

Deleted Scenes (7:24 - SD 16x9)

Five deleted scenes in animated storyboard format.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The local release does not include the U-Control PiP option which is available on the US Blu-ray release and UK Blu-ray release of 9. The US Blu-ray also included more Language and Subtitle options.

Summary

9 is an engaging animated feature from Shane Acker. The dark and brutal environment, likeable characters and driving action contributes to an enjoyable cinematic experience.

The Madman Blu-ray is well produced and features a great selection of special features which further explore the various thematic concerns of the feature film. 9 is a grand achievement for Acker and certainly stands up as one of the better animated feature films in recent years.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Monday, May 17, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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