DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

9 - Blu-ray Review



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It is a world of the doomed future, a world of cold metal and broken dreams, a world void of humanity save for a collection of numbered doll-like homunculi; this is the setting of Shane Acker's 9. It seems fitting, in order to best define the film's message, to call upon the genius of Mark Twain. Twain once mused that, â"peace by persuasion has a pleasant sound, but I think we should not be able to work it. We should have to tame the human race first, and history seems to show that that cannot be done." That is the idea Acker's film begins with: the end of humanity in blind pursuit of science and technology as it relates to war. It's a recurring theme that resonates with every frame of Acker's haunting animated feature.

9Produced by Tim Burton (director of Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood) and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Night Watch, Wanted) and starring the voice talents of Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, and Christopher Plummer, Acker's 9 is the story of how one of these homunculi (called stitchpunks), made complete by a talisman, must learn to rise above the daily struggle his kind face in the wake of machine's rise over man and save what can be salvaged of humanity. There are dangers to be faced all man-made and trusts to be earned by the other stitchpunks, but, ultimately, the movie never transcends its rich artistic style and its meaty substance gets lost somewhere along the post-apocalyptic side of the road. The film opens with the scientist's much needed narration (he's the one who made the dolls in an effort to preserve humanity), but the film hastily and I do mean hastily migrates from the main theme and never satisfactorily returns to roost upon the message; the story of self-preservation especially considering the fact that the stitchpunks are responsible for their own trepidation - is simply not as engaging as one of self-sacrifice.

The movie looks amazingly smart; it's stunning in the tiniest of details and the art of the world as destroyed by machines is comparably to the crumpled landscape of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. There is a solid richness to the colored layers of the film and the perfected nuances of destruction here; however, it's the background that gets the most thought throughout the film. The first twenty minutes are the film's strongest moments, but then without allowing any time to pass the character's personal relationships are telegraphed with clichés and all-too-familiar situations and this simply takes some of the marvel away from the film.

The film's origins are from Acker's UCLA film graduate project that clocked in at 11 minutes and that might have been at a length able to preserve the film's thesis; however, at a feature length gallop the story grows a little weak against the strong visuals and performances from the voice talents. This is surprising considering screenwriter Pamela Pettler's work on Monster House and Corpse Bride. The story is called into question because it's just not certain who the target audience for this film is; it's visually strong and darkly imaginative but once the story gets rolling it becomes confused with chillingly horrific adult scenes and a startling child-like wander at the world destroyed all of which gives itself up to the action of the narrative all too quickly. The film is an artistic triumph but is severely weakened by the meandering storyline. What somewhat saves the film, though, is its originality and in this department the film never falters. Acker's 9 is an enjoyable film and always imaginative despite a script that needs some connective tissue in order to make it feel completely alive.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
1 Star
1 Star
DVD Experience
1 Star

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

The Blu-ray edition of this film is loaded with interesting features and these featurettes more than make up for any weaknesses the film itself might have. They include: U Control Experience (with PIP cast and crew interviews on the making of the film), Audio Commentary with Acker and his animation crew talk extensively throughout with a focused passion for the film, the original Oscar-nominated short (with commentary from Acker), The Long and Short of It featurette traces the experience of bringing the short into life as a feature, On Tour with Shane Aker is a tour of the facilities and faculties that brought 9 to the silver screen, Acting Out featurette, Deleted Scenes, BD Live Functionality and News Ticker.

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French.

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French: DTS 5.1 Spanish: DTS 5.1.

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; Commentary; short film; featurettes; Deleted scenes; BD-Live Functionality and U-Control.

Supplements:

Commentary

  • Feature-length commentary track with Writer/director Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Laughlin, and editor Nick Kenway.

Featurettes

  • The Long and Short of It (16:00)
  • On Tour with Shane Acker (06:00)
  • The Look of 9 (13:00)
  • Acting Out (05:00)

Deleted Scenes - 5 scenes that didn't make the final cut.

BD-Live Functionality and News Ticker

My Scenes Bookmarking

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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