Monday , April 22 2024
Shane Acker expands his 11-minute Oscar-winning short into a 79-minute feature with a stellar voice cast.

DVD Review: 9

“Life must go on.”

Co-executive producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov help assemble a stellar voice talent cast to help filmmaker Shane Acker expand his 11-minute Oscar-winning short film 9 into a 79-minute feature of the same name.

Audiences, especially filmmaking fans, get high quality content in this one-disc DVD. The considerable bonus features, special effects features, and collaboration insights permeate this experience while provoking as much thought and interest as the feature film.

The familiar man vs. machine theme morphs into being against machine as Acker expands his post apocalyptic story with Pamela Pettler. The story begins without dialogue for the first 10 minutes or so as audiences gradually orient themselves to a world without humanity.

The tinkering 9, voiced by Elijah Wood, uncovers this grim world along with the audience and finds his predecessors on the way. 2, voiced by Martin Landau, provides some initial information, then the numbers fall in, including the heroic 7, voiced by Jennifer Connelly; the genius 6, voiced by Crispin Glover; the cautious 5, voiced by John C. Reilly, and the self-appointed leader, 1, voiced by Christopher Plummer.

The imaginative action scenarios mesh well with the characters' traits as they discover the source behind the dark, post-apocalyptic settings — the machines. These beings need no rest, water or food though they still feel emotions like fear and anger because their creator, The Scientist, builds pieces of his intelligence/humanity/”soul” into each one.

Create the machines that now can create a version of life? Why not? What would you do amid the end of mankind? Continue humanity… in some form or another. Zippers and careful stitching connect their burlap layers as their lenses see the world as they never get tired or hungry. The group’s main conflict stems from 9's opposition to 1's conservative decision-making. 9 calls 1 a blind man guided by fear while 1 counters by saying “sometimes fear is the appropriate response.”

The characters run the full personality gamut while exterminating machines provide formidable survival challenges. The story also includes some peppering of a fascistic-type government, lead by The Chancellor, who wrestles machine control away from The Scientist in flashbacks about midway through the film. The creative visuals and action present interesting situations as the audience gets a wild, unpredictable ride, which stimulates the senses and probes the intellect with possibilities. Audiences never really have to work throughout the plot or unravel any mysteries. The scientist’s methods or discoveries aren’t revealed in detail, so audiences are basically along for the ride… it’s a fine ride, though.

The full-length commentary track includes Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Loughlin, and editor Nick Kenway while the original “9” short has an optional commentary by Acker and Ksander. Other bonuses include the animated deleted scenes and a 16-minute “The Long and Short of It” featurette.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack pounds Deborah Lurie’s original music score and the five-minute “Acting Out” featurette showcases the recognizable voice cast. The 13-minute “The Look of 9” featurette comments on the visuals and settings, which evoke amazing details but familiar color schemes and shadowing. The film is presented in widescreen format and includes English, Spanish, and French audio tracks and subtitles.

A must have for anyone with an interest in filmmaking, while general audiences can find themselves entranced within this grim yet amazing world. Focus Features has a great animation start with this film and the Oscar-nominated Coraline. Recommended and rated PG-13 for violence and scary images. Also available on Blu-ray.

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