S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
(Shane Acker, 2009)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Focus Features
Video:Universal Home Video
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 31,785,340,158 bytes
Feature Size: 23,538,112,512 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.65 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: December 29th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: VC-1 Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3977 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3977 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), French, Spanish, none
• Feature commentary with writer/director Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Loughlin and editor Nick Kenway
• 5 Deleted Scenes (7:24 in HD!)
• U Control: Picture in Picture
• 9 - The Long and the Short of It (16:28)
• On Tour with Shane Acker (5:36 in HD!)
• The Look of 9 (13:12 in HD!)
• Acting Out (4:54) in HD!
• 9 - The Original Short with optional commentary (10:33 in HD!)
Description: An action-packed adventure, director Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9 is the feature-length expansion of his Academy Award-nominated 2004 short film of the same name. The screenplay for the feature is by Pamela Pettler (Monster House); directors Tim Burton (Beetlejuice) and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) are producing. Set in the near future, the world’s machines have turned on mankind and sparked social unrest - decimating the human population. But as our world falls to pieces, a mission begins to salvage the legacy of civilization, and a group of small “stitchpunk” creations is given the spark of life by a scientist - and they successfully survive the apocalypse. With their group being so small, these creatures must summon individual strengths well beyond their own proportions in order to outwit and fight against the still-functioning monster machines. 9 dynamically explores the will to live and how one soul can change the world.
Perhaps it says something about the nihilistic perspective of modern society, but the post-apocalyptic story is becoming a popular genre; not since the height of the Cold War have movies been so obsessed with the end of civilization. No longer restricted to art-house meditations and action/adventure sagas, this kind of tale has made its way into the animated realm, first with 2008's Pixar release, WALL-E, and now with the Tim Burton/Timur Bekmambetov co-production, 9. Although there are enough scares and thrills to tip the scales slightly onto the PG-13 side of the PG/PG-13 line, this is by no means "adult" animation - or at least it's not going to conjure up thoughts of Heavy Metal or Fritz the Cat. This is post-apocalyptic adventure as imagined for a teen crowd, and what it lacks in depth it makes up for in action. With a slight running time of 80 minutes, 9 doesn't contain an ounce of fat on its animated bones.
The Terminator-like backstory implicates a war between humans and their sentient machine creations with destroying the world. Humankind is dead, as are most of the machines, and a series of puppets-like rag dolls - the last work of one visionary scientist - have inherited what's left of the earth. Originally, there were nine of them, but their number has dwindled. Now, with the last of the group, Number 9 (voice of Elijah Wood) awakened, they are as complete as they ever will be. However, before 9 can be introduced to his fellows, he finds himself in dire straits. He is rescued by Number 2 (Martin Landau), but then 2 is carried off by a dangerous mechanical beast to its lair. 9 wants to rescue 2, but the suggestion is vetoed by Number 1 (Christopher Plummer). He goes anyway, accompanied by 5 (John C. Reilly) and 7 (Jennifer Connelly). What they discover and do on the journey results in the re-awakening of the great machine whose activation started the great war.Excerpt from James Berardinelli at ReelViews located HERE
The thing about digital animation is that it is essentially flawless - it should have none of the common deficiencies that we can find when transferring live-action film to high-definition digital - things like edge-enhancement or noise removal manipulation. Haze and blurriness are intentional effects to create the perception of motion. Out-of-focus experiences are simply created to make the true focal object more primary to our vision. By rendering digital animation to1080P Blu-ray we should be able to obtain the highest accuracy of the original, flawless intent. This is how '9' is - very dark, at times, a passive color palette and a kind of texturizing of the characters - even without film grain. Although the black and white flashback still so exhibit a grain-like appearance. Daylight scenes showcase the detail and colors to a higher degree. Contrast on this Blu-ray is very strong and in motion is looks quite beautiful. The VC-1 dual-layered transfer is immaculate with a generous bitrate. I have no complaints whatsoever and I, personally, grew to like this style enormously as the film rolled to conclusion.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
I found the DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3977 kbps to be totally immersive. While the video portion of the Blu-ray is as perfect as I can discern - the audio, likewise, is one of the best mixes I have heard this year with abundant range and depth. "Demo" is appropriate. The lossless track is filled with crisp subtleties - wind, metal, shuffling feet, echoes and hundreds more intricate sounds that permeate to the rear speakers. The voices characterizations by the likes of Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Jennifer Connelly and Elijah Wood are dynamically clear with timber and emotion being deftly exposed. Ominous bass protrudes from unknown areas - it really is a marvelous audio transfer. Deborah Lurie's score is also a treat with a classical base building and falling with the characters. There are optional subtitles in English, French or Spanish appearing directly underneath the character.My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Supplements offer a feature commentary with writer/director Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Loughlin and editor Nick Kenway. There is a bit of narration describing the plot as well as production information. There are 5 deleted scenes (incomplete animation) running about 7.5 minutes, 4 featurette shorts running about 35-minutes in total; 9 - The Long and the Short of It, On Tour with Shane Acker, The Look of 9, and Acting Out. We also get The Original Short of '9' running 10-minutes with an optional commentary. Blu-ray exclusive-wise we have the 'My Scenes' feature, an untested 'Ticker' control and BD-LIVE - noted with a 'What's New' description. You can get a sense by going through the supplements what a colossal project these animated features can be.
December 15th, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze