'Nine' struts its stuff on Region B locked Blu-ray with a slightly disappointing 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
Here we have a very recent source, so it ought to look good on the High Def format, but while there is a good use of colour in the movie it just seems to lack that real punch to make it sparkle. Reds don't jump off the screen at you in the way you'd expect and a scene that sticks in mind is the one where Penelope Cruz wears a red dress at the train station. That should have been a 'wow' but wasn't, somehow.
Skin tones generally look good throughout and there's a fair amount of detail on show and big close-ups of the beautiful ladies are pleasing to the eye.
Certain sequences make use of a grainy black and white image and it's very effective in a gimmicky way when monochrome and colour shots are intercut during some musical numbers - although I found it pulled me out of the movie. Distracting would be the word here.
Contrast is good, if a tad dark - as befitting the storyline - while blacks are reassuringly nice and deep. Overall, it lacks the vibrancy that you'd expect from this kind of film. A little bit lack lustre.
The audio on 'Nine' comes in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 flavour that gives me something to be positive about. What we get is a highly immersive sound mix with an impressive dynamic range. The bass frequencies are nicely balanced to put some oomph into the female voice led numbers, which could otherwise have sounded a bit thin. Thankfully it does not go overboard in the LFE department, so there's no need to reach for the paracetamol.
The sound has purity with a crisp edge that is necessary for musicals and the use of surrounds helps place us amid the scenes with ambience. Dialogue is never drowned and pulls our focus to the screen. It's a very busy mix with much to keep the dubbing mixer on his toes and thankfully he never drops the ball.
This is a first rate surround track.
'Nine' comes with a wheelbarrow load of bonus material, although most featurettes included are of the 'bite sized chunks' variety.
- Audio Commentary
This is a very informative track from Director Rob Marshall and Producer John DeLuca who speak very well and cover most of the areas of interest from the production. We hear about the huge set where most of the musical numbers were performed and they compliment the cast for its dedication. They also point out the differences between the original stage musical and the big screen version while examining the plot and characters. They discuss the challenges of producing a musical and making it suitable for a modern day audience.
- The Incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis (HD, 5 mins)
There's a fair bit of 'Luvvy' back slapping here from Director Marshall and the film's female stars who were impressed by the actor's personality and artistic discipline. The man himself focuses on how much he enjoyed making the movie and how he was able to use music as a communication tool.
- The Women of 'Nine' (HD, 11 mins)
Here we have some rehearsal footage intercut with interviews with the posse of female stars who recount how they were cast, the gambles they took, and the on-set relationships that made 'Nine' such a 'wundaful dahlings' experience for all concerned.
- Director Rob Marshall (HD, 6 mins)
Now it's the turn of the movie's director to be given a big head by the cast and producers. We hear of his use of mutual respect in direction, backed up by footage of him working on set in a good humoured yet professional manner.
- Behind the Look of 'Nine' (HD, 8 mins)
Here we get a brief overview of the film's lighting as well as set and costume design.
It really just scratches the surface but the peek behind the scenes gives us at least some idea of the considerations that were taken into account on the production.
- The Dancers of 'Nine' (HD, 5 mins)
We are dragged by the hand through the audition process and into rehearsal sessions for the chorus dancers, who share with us their own experiences of working on 'Nine'.
- The Choreography of 'Be Italian' (HD, 4 mins)
Stacy Ferguson (Fergie) describes the excitement of shooting this central musical number and how two months rehearsal time allowed her and her co-dancers to seek perfection. Marshall praises her hard work (there's a lot of it about) and the back stage views give us some indication of the number's difficulties for the performer.
- Making 'Cinema Italiano' (SD, 3 mins)
Kate Hudson tells us how she gained the confidence to perform this tricky, tongue twisting, lively song - and how it differs from her own kind of music.
- The Choreography of 'Cinema Italiano' (HD, 9 mins)
This short piece covers the 'Cinema Italiano' number from initial run through to technical rehearsals, then on to the shoot. Director Marshall explains his wish to pay tribute to the '60s, while Ms Hudson pays respect to her fellow dancers and tells us how much satisfaction performing the number gave her.
- Music Videos (SD, 9 mins)
Here we have music vids for 'Cinema Italiano,' 'Take It All' and 'Unusual Way' from the movie.
- Sophia Loren Remembers Cinecitta Studios (HD, 13 mins)
The fabulous Ms Loren (unbelievably gorgeous at 75) remembers her early experiences at the famous Italian Studio, beginning with her work as an extra on the epic 1951 American production, 'Quo Vadis' . She also shares her memories of Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini and her husband Carlo Ponti. This is a fascinating interview with one of the Cinema's true beauties.
- Screen Actors Guild Q&A (HD, 43 mins)
Here we have a panel comprising Day-Lewis, Kidman, Hudson, Dench, Cruz, and Cotillard fielding an array of pathetic, fluffy questions. Only the stars' personalities make it interesting.
Sony's feature offering facts, trivia, cast lists and bios which can be accessed on screen as you watch the movie.
This link takes you to Sony's online portal, where you can view trailers etc.
'Nine', the recent movie musical adaptation of the hit stage show swings on to Region B locked Blu-ray with an unremarkable 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. A slight lack of vibrancy make the colours fail to pop , but good skin tones, contrast and deep blacks are all there to please the eye.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix makes up for the lack of visual zing with a well balanced track that combines crispness with a pure sound to make the female voice led numbers sound full bodied and rich.
Extras by the shovelful, including an informative commentary track make this a must for those who like to see behind the scenes of a movie musical.
Sadly, despite starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Judy Dench, Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz this potential box office winner fails to set the screen alight in the story of a movie director on the verge of a nervous breakdown, based on Fellini's '8-1/2'.
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