Plot: What’s it about?
The movie musical has experienced somewhat of a revitalization of sorts with the release of “Chicago” which nabbed a Best Picture Oscar back in 2002. Ironically enough Rob Marshall helmed that film along with this one, “Nine.” For those that don’t know (or don’t know enough to care), “Nine” is loosely based on one of the most important films of the last 100 years, “8 1/2” by Fedrico Fellini. Obviously this isn’t nearly as profound or, for lack of a better word, good, as the aforementioned film but it’s nice to see people pay homage nonetheless. As for the musical, well movies like “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge!” might have spurned a minor comeback for the genre, but I don’t think “Nine” will do much to keep the longevity. And the cast, well, “Nine” has its share of eye candy for the men with the likes of Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Fergie (of “The Black Eyed Peas”) and Penelope Cruz. All the elements are there – did it work?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen “8 1/2”, so it took me a minute to draw a parallel to the original work. If you’ve seen it, forget it – you’re better off as you’ll be comparing the two and let me assure you; there’s no comparison. But that aside, the plot is remarkably simple. Italian director Guido Contini (Daniel Day Lewis) is just about to start production on his newest film, titled “Italia.” The problem (and the consensus) is that he’s lost his drive and creative vision to pull another movie out of his hat. His last two films have been flops and if he pulls off the hat trick, he’s as good as toast when it comes to the world of filmmaking. For inspiration, he turns to the lovely ladies of his life who have helped shape him. He retreats to his coastline resort to get away from it all, all the while going through some heavy thinking and remembrance.
I’ll be honest, “Nine” will polarize audiences and though I felt it kind of dragging at times, the song and dance numbers were fairly memorable. Yes, it’s no “Chicago”, but I have to give director Rob Marshall and “A” for effort here. He’s assembled a top notch cast and even though the musical is some thirty years off Broadway, the movie has some pretty intense production values. Fans of musicals will have probably already seen this as musicals aren’t a dime a dozen like they used to be. And how often are we going to get to see Sophia Loren in films these days? I’m guessing not many. While this wasn’t the Oscar winning movie the filmmakers thought it’d be, it did manage to garner four nominations though it failed to win any awards. Take it with a grain of salt and most likely you’ll get a lot more out of it.
Video: How does it look?
Visually is where “Nine” really shines as the 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer really brings out the best in the song and dance numbers. “Nine” is a pretty dark movie with sequences in both black and white and color. The use of contest and shadows are amazing and even though she’s getting on in years, I’m still in awe of anything with Nicole Kidman on screen. Some scenes (such as the opening) are intentionally grainy, but the glamour and glitz on the dresses shows off how nice this picture really looks.
Audio: How does it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack also gives the movie a nice little shot in the arm. Again, the song and dance numbers are very robust and utilize pretty much any and every speaker you have in your setup. Dialogue is a bit on the weak side, actually, as Daniel Day Lewis’ character seems to be somewhat of a mumbler. Still, it’s not a fault of the soundtrack. This isn’t something that you’ll use to showcase your system, but it’s a nice addition to have when sitting back to watch the film. A nice effort here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Nine” has supplements galore, though like the movie itself they somewhat fail to deliver. The cream of the crop is the audio commentary with director Rob Marshall and his producer. They discuss the technical aspects of the movie, the musical numbers and the production itself. It’s a good, informative commentary and one that fans of the film will no doubt enjoy. The remainder of the featurettes are just short featurettes that touch on all the things we figured it would. There’s a segment on Daniel Day Lewis, the “women” of “Nine”, the choreography, the look and the dancers of the film. Each is fairly self-explanatory and is nice to have on the disc, but I don’t know how much repeat viewing will be enjoyed here. There are some Blu-ray exclusives as well with Sony’s Movie IQ. I’m not sure if this is a new feature or not, but you can actually go to a web site, key in a code and the Movie IQ information will be shown on your phone (my iPhone had no problem showing the tidbits). A very cool little feature and as mobile phones get more and more complex, I’m sure we’ll see more of it. We also get a featurette of Sophia Loren as she recollects her experiences in the Italian film industry as well as a “Screen Actors Guild Q & A” with the cast of the film. Also included are a few music videos as well as a trailer for the film and some other Sony titles.