9 (2009)

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Released 6-Apr-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Deleted Scenes-Five deleted scenes
Featurette-9 - The Long and Short of It
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Look of 9
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Acting Out
Short Film-9 - The Original Short (with commentary by Acker & Ksander)
Audio Commentary-Feature Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 76:03
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then 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 Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Deborah Lurie
Nick Kenway
Mindy Marin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    9 is the brainchild of Shane Acker, former student at the UCLA Animation Workshop and digital animator with WETA on Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Conceived as a short film for an animation project, 9 was completed in 2005. It was mainly a silent post-apocalyptic film where the viewer has to 'fill in the blanks'. The feature film unfortunately fills in all those blanks for you and ultimately runs out of steam; there is just not enough to the story to keep it going much past one hour.

     The plot of the feature film begins with a Scientist (Alan Oppenheimer) who creates a fabrication machine to be used for peaceful purposes. The 'Leader of Mankind' takes the machine and corrupts it, wiping out mankind. The Scientist creates nine rag doll-like creations and a Talisman so that mankind's legacy can continue and so that the Fabrication Machine can be stopped.

     9 (Elijah Wood) awakes at the beginning of the film and has the Talisman with him. He meets 2 (Martin Landau) who gives him a vocal processor to speak. The Cat Machine attacks them and captures 2 but 9 is saved by the one-eyed 5 (John C. Reilly). 9 is led to the sanctuary where 1 (Christopher Plummer) is kept safe with his bodyguard 8 (Fred Tatasciore). 9 decides to rescue 2 from an old factory, aided by 5. They locate 2 and 7 (Jennifer Connelly), a female rag-doll who destroys the Cat Beast. 9 finds the Fabrication Machine and unknowingly connects the Talisman to it, awakening the machine. It sucks 2's soul, using it for power. The survivors find out about the machine's origins. 9 realises they need to remove the Talisman from the machine; he goes to 1 in the sanctuary to find 6 (Crispin Glover), who knows of the Talisman, telling them to "return to the source".

     Later we meet another menacing robot-creation, The Seamstress. The survivors destroy the seamstress and desire to also destroy the Fabrication Machine until 6 tells 9 that it should not be destroyed because it contains the captured live souls. 9, 7, 3, and 4 free the souls of 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8, who rise up into the sky and cause it to rain. The raindrops hit the ground, hinting that there is hope for life on Earth.

     Despite the issues with the underdeveloped plot, the animation is fantastic. The post-apocalyptic world is dark and menacing and the rag-dolls are incredibly life-like.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The post-apocalyptic world of 9 is dark so colours like green and the red eyes of the machines really stand out.

     The aspect ratio is 1:78:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     The main feature takes up 3.78 gb of a 7.2 gb dual-layered DVD. The average bitrate is 6.79 m/b per sec. The computer-graphic images show sharp detail.

     Neon greens and reds stand out as most of the film is browns and blacks and there are many dark scenes, or scenes with limited light sources. There are no film artefacts.

     Subtitles are provided in English.

     The RSDL change occurs at 46:40 during a cut in a scene.

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

Audio

     The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is quite good, with sounds coming from all speakers, and there's a good balance between ambient sounds and action.

     The main soundtrack is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 kbps. The audio commentary is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised with the lips of the animated rag-dolls.

     Deborah Lurie composed the original score, while producer Tim Burton's usual composer Danny Elfman contributed themes to the film. The only referenced song in the film is Judy Garland's Over the Rainbow. This song may have been included to highlight the approximate period of the film, which is probably set in a post-World War II apocalyptic world.

     Surround channel usage is strong and supports battles and ambient background noises equally well. The subwoofer comes into action for battle scenes featuring explosions, with good bass.

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

Extras

     The disc begins with trailers for Akira, Transformers - The Movie, Appleseed Ex Machina, Vexille and Ponyo before displaying the main menu. These trailers can be fast-forwarded.

Five Deleted Scenes (7:08)

     The deleted scenes can be played in sequence or separately. The five deleted scenes (The Truth Revealed, Throw Me the End of your Rope, The Fall Out, Talking the Offensive and The Scientist's Legacy) are basically animated storyboards, sequences, and unedited voiceover work that were not included in the final film.

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

     This featurette includes interviews with actors Elijah Wood and Martin Landau and producers Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton discussing how the 11-minute short film was developed into a full-length film.

The Look of 9 (13:14)

     This extra looks at the design of the movie and time period the film is set in. The political setting, mentioned in the plot, influenced the post World War II look.

Acting Out (4:53)

     The animation production crew discuss how they created emotional and communicative performances with the rag-doll characters.

9 - The Original Short (10:33) (1:33:1, not 16x9 enhanced)

     The original 2005 short film is included with the option of viewing it with Director/Animator Shane Acker's and Co-animator Joe Ksander commentary.

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Shane Acker, Animation Director Joe Ksander, Head of Story Ryan O’Loughlin and Editor Nick Conway

     This is a scene-specific commentary which mainly details the production elements of the film. It is quite informative and it manages to convey themes and ideas not mentioned in the other extras included on the DVD.

R4 vs R1

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

     9 has been released in Region 1 in the United States and in Region 2 in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. All these releases on DVD include the exact same extras as the Madman Region 4 release. The only differences are the audio and subtitling options. The Region 1 US release has English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks and English, French and Spanish subtitles, The Region 2 UK release has English, Russian and Ukrainian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks and English, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian and Ukrainian subtitles. The Region 2 Dutch release has English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks and English, Dutch and French subtitles.

Summary

     9 features great animation work, a very good video and audio transfer to DVD and a good set of extras. 9 is ultimately aimed at an early teenage audience; its themes are not suited to young viewers.

     Despite my reservations about the development of the plot from its original 11-minute short film incarnation, it's not a bad effort from first-time director Shane Acker. Hopefully, this will lead to more from him in the future.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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