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Nine Lives: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Nine Lives (2016) movie poster Nine Lives

Theatrical Release: August 5, 2016 / Running Time: 87 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld / Writers: Gwyn Lurie, Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Daniel Antonazzi, Ben Shiffrin

Cast: Kevin Spacey (Tom Brand), Jennifer Garner (Lara Brand), Robbie Amell (David Brand), Cheryl Hines (Madison Camden), Mark Consuelos (Ian Cox), Malina Weissman (Rebecca Brand), Christopher Walken (Felix Perkins), Talitha Bateman (Nicole Camden), Teddy Sears (Josh Myers), Jay Patterson (Benson)

Buy Nine Lives from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD + Digital Instant Video

Whether due to their cooperative nature or propensity for action, dogs have always gotten far more love on film than cats. But this year, we got not one but two wide release films about cats.
In April, a stolen kitten was the driving force of Key and Peele's gang action-comedy Keanu. Then in August, there was Nine Lives, applying the Tim Allen Shaggy Dog treatment to Kevin Spacey, transforming him from a selfish businessman into a fluffy gray cat.

Spacey plays Tom Brand, a billionaire titan of industry who is obsessed with having his new skyscraper remain the tallest building in America. He doesn't pay much notice to his wife (Jennifer Garner) or his daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman). Rebecca is turning eleven and wants a cat for her birthday. So, Tom reluctantly drops into a shop called Purrkins, whose eccentric owner Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken, who appears to be reprising his life-changing Click under a different name) seems to want to teach the selfish Tom a lesson.

You wanted a universal remote? That remote controls your universe! Oh wait, that's a different life-altering magical Christopher Walken salesman.

An incident on a stormy night leaves Tom in a coma fighting for his life. But his consciousness has been passed on to Mr. Fuzzypants, the gray tomcat that he gave Rebecca. Tom tries his hardest to inform his family what has happened, but it's not easy for cats to communicate. So, he's trapped and has to eat cat food. The only joy he can find is peeing in an obnoxious woman's purse. Obviously, to reverse this freaky incident, Tom has to take care of his family, including his suicidal grown-up son (Robie Amell).

This is one of those movies that plays out exactly as you expect it to. Seen the trailer? Then you've seen the movie. Not because the trailer revealed too much. It's just there wasn't much to reveal. The premise is obvious and the resolution inevitable.

Credited to five screenwriters (two duos and a solo), Nine Lives runs short on imagination and wit. It also suffers from garish visuals. Obviously, cats are going to require some assistance if you want them to do all sorts of cinematic action. And it isn't easy to make a cat doing those kinds of actions look realistic. But this animation reminds you of those Garfield movies from the mid-2000s. You would hope for better than that. And the cartoonish CGI doesn't explain why the film has opted for such unappealing candy-colored production design. It's not that you're expecting a classy art house movie, but it would be nice if the movie didn't make your eyes hurt along with your brain.

That's no ordinary cat in Jennifer Garner's lap. It's a Kevin Spacey cat!

Besides the two Oscar winners in the cast, Nine Lives also has an accomplished filmmaker at the helm in Barry Sonnenfeld,
the former Coen Brothers cinematographer who directed both Addams Family movies and all three Men in Black films. That experience should infuse this with some kind of commercial appeal at least. But no, this is devoid of that, even for young children who only get a handful of live-action films appropriate for them each year.

Though this PG-rated movie was intended for an entirely different audience than the R-rated Keanu, the two cat comedies ended up performing similarly in fairly wide release. Nine Lives ended up grossing $19.7 million domestic, the biggest haul to date for young distributor EuropaCorp, but a lackluster showing by any other measure. Fox brought the film to stores this week in a DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Nine Lives: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.85:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD + Digital ($29.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

I've already addressed the film's lacking visuals, but none of its shortcomings are the fault of the Blu-ray, whose 1.85:1 transfer utilizes most available pixels and looks vibrant and sharp. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack gets the job done too.

Cheryl Hines discusses the movie in which a cat pees in her character's purse in "Letting the Cat Out of the Bag." One of the cats playing Mr. Fuzzypants is let out of a carrier and springs onto the scene in "Russian for Herding Cats."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Nine Lives is joined by two featurettes on both the Blu-ray and DVD.

First, "Letting the Cat Out of the Bag:
The Making of Nine Lives" (12:03) is a general making-of piece that collects talking head comments and miscellaneous behind-the-scenes footage.

"Russian for Herding Cats" (14:07) looks at the film's making primarily from the use of cats and cat wranglers.

Nine Lives' theatrical trailer (2:25) is included. Watch it instead of the movie, and you'll save 80+ minutes.

Finally, Sneak Peek adds trailers for Earth to Echo and Russell Madness to the disc-opening one for Ice Age: Collision Course.

The scored menu loops clips, including one that isn't in the film or deleted scenes.

Spoiler alert: Tom (Kevin Spacey) comes out of the coma, his consciousness restored, now appreciative of his wife (Jennifer Garner) and daughter (Malina Weissman). The End. Roll credits!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

As a cat lover, I thought for sure Nine Lives would offer something of value to me. But no, this shoddy family comedy just wastes a talented cast and your time with dumb gags, graceless storytelling, and unsightly visuals.

Fox's Blu-ray combo pack loses no points for feature presentation and its few extras are fine. But the movie is bad enough to avoid in any form, especially this one.

Buy Nine Lives from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD + Digital / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Independence Day: Resurgence Mr. Church The Sea of Trees Lights Out The Legend of Tarzan
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld: Men in Black Men in Black II Men in Black 3 Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season
Kevin Spacey: A Bug's Life Fred Claus | Christopher Walken: Blast from the Past The Jungle Book (2016) Eddie the Eagle
Jennifer Garner: The Odd Life of Timothy Green Miracles from Heaven Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Cats: The Aristocats Oliver & Company That Darn Cat! (1965) That Darn Cat (1997) The Cat from Outer Space The Three Lives of Thomasina Keanu
Animals: The Shaggy Dog (2006) Marmaduke Max

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Reviewed November 5, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 EuropaCorp, Fundamental Films, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
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