Posts Tagged ‘John C. Riley’


Humans have become extinct in a post-apocalyptic world. The only humanity remaining exists in small manmade dolls infused with the only real remnants of life.

The Great Machine, which was to bring mankind into the future, instead sparked social unrest and led to the annihilation of the entire human population. In an attempt to salvage the legacy of civilization, a scientist gave life to a group of small creations. #9 (Elijah Wood) awakens alone in the scientist’s room but it is immediately obvious he is endowed with human qualities, such as pity, fear and compassion. He soon finds those that came before him: #1 (Christopher Plummer) is the group’s long-time leader; #2 (Martin Landau) is a kindly but frail inventor; #3 and #4 are scholarly twins that mostly communicate non-verbally with each other; #5 (John C. Riley) is a bold but kind engineer; #6 (Crispin Glover) is an artist plagued by visions; #7 (Jennifer Connelly) is a brave and self-sufficient woman warrior; and #8 (Fred Tatasciore) is a bully and #1’s enforcer. The “stitchpunk” creations must combine their individual strengths to outwit and fight the still-functioning machines that continue to seek to destroy all traces of life on Earth.

9 is an intriguing tale of hope as the power of community and belief that one person can make a difference against impossible odds drives #9 in a quest to defeat the mechanical beast that threatens their existence. On the other hand, #1’s constant negativity is a powerful discourager; his favourite response to #9’s resolve is “It’s too late.”

The animated steampunk-style is fascinating. The darkened atmosphere and tones of green and black throughout the entire post-apocalyptic world is stunning. The feeling that life has been almost entirely drained from everything is evident in everything they see and touch. In addition, the detail in the barren landscape with its debris and textures, and the difficulties it poses for the eight-inch creations to traverse through shows a lot of consideration.

Alternatively, the story elements are not very original. The most apparent contributor is The Terminator mythology and the rise of the machines versus humans. Similarly, The Matrix trilogy appears to be an obvious inspiration for the Fabrication Machine, which is a multi-armed mechanical beast that creates new machines and attempts to consume the stitchpunks.

Furthermore, the straight-forward plot is simple enough for children to understand but the situations the characters find themselves in often appear too frightening for a child to watch. Conversely, it is an interesting viewing for adults but the simplicity of the narrative occasionally makes the film somewhat dull. The soundtrack is a mix of Danny Elfman compositions and Coheed and Cambria.

The special features include: feature commentary with writer/director/animator Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O’Loughlin and editor Nick Kenway; deleted scenes; “The Look of 9,” an in-depth look at the design, colour and texture of the film; “Acting Out” shows how live-action references helped animators with the non-human characters; “The Long and the Short of it” shows how Acker transformed an 11-minute short into a full-length feature; and 9 – The Original Short.

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In a post-apocalyptic world, the only humanity remaining exists in small manmade dolls infused with the only real remnants of life.

The Great Machine, which was to bring mankind into the future, instead sparked social unrest and led to the annihilation of the entire human population. In an attempt to salvage the legacy of civilization, a scientist gave life to a group of small creations. #9 (Elijah Wood) awakens alone in the scientist’s room but it is immediately obvious he is endowed with human qualities, such as pity, fear and compassion. He soon finds those that came before him: #1 (Christopher Plummer) is the group’s long-time leader; #2 (Martin Landau) is a kindly but frail inventor; #3 and #4 are scholarly twins that mostly communicate non-verbally with each other; #5 (John C. Riley) is a bold but kind engineer; #6 (Crispin Glover) is an artist plagued by visions; #7 (Jennifer Connelly) is a brave and self-sufficient woman warrior; and #8 (Fred Tatasciore) is a bully and #1’s enforcer. The “stitchpunk” creations must combine their individual strengths to outwit and fight the still-functioning machines that continue to seek to destroy all traces of life on Earth.

9 is an intriguing tale of hope as the power of community and belief that one person can make a difference against impossible odds drives #9 in a quest to defeat the mechanical beast that threatens their existence. On the other hand, #1’s constant negativity is a powerful discourager; his favourite response to #9’s resolve is “It’s too late.”

The animated steampunk-style is fascinating. The darkened atmosphere and tones of green and black throughout the entire post-apocalyptic world is stunning. The feeling that life has been almost entirely drained from everything is evident in everything they see and touch. In addition, the detail in the barren landscape with its debris and textures, and the difficulties it poses for the eight-inch creations to traverse through shows a lot of consideration.

Alternatively, the story elements are not very original. The most apparent contributor is The Terminator mythology and the rise of the machines versus humans. Similarly, The Matrix trilogy appears to be an obvious inspiration for the Fabrication Machine, which is a multi-armed mechanical beast that creates new machines, and the attempted consumption of the stitchpunks.

Furthermore, the straight-forward plot is simple enough for children to understand but the situations the characters find themselves in often appear too frightening for a child to watch. Conversely, it is an interesting viewing for adults but the simplicity of the narrative occasionally makes the film somewhat dull.

Everyone is reaching for the next rung on the ladder of success and sometimes a few fingers may get “accidentally” stepped on.

Doug (Sean William Scott) has made a career of his assistant manager position but when the chain plans to open a new store nearby, it seems he’s a shoo-in for the manager post. But he gets some unexpected competition via Richard (John C. Riley), a transfer from a sister store in Quebec. They both desperately want the job to improve their living situations, which leads them to compromise their morals and sabotage one another, making the best man for the job a little harder to determine.

Watching this movie, I was reminded of 1999’s Election. Similarly, the narrative voiceover by Doug relays his reasoning and justifies his actions. Also, the characters are a little strange and flawed.

At first, it’s somewhat odd to see Scott so subdued but he portrays the straight, clean-cut guy well. Riley always puts his best foot forward and this project is no different. His determination to overcome his life’s mistakes is consistently detectable, as is his lack of book smarts. But while his Canadian accent is good, it often bleeds into an Irish accent similar to his wife’s (Lili Taylor). The supporting cast also pulls their own weight, particularly Jenna Fischer, Taylor and Gil Bellows.

In addition to being a comedy, it looks at the inner workings of a supermarket and all the degrading aspects of the industry as well as the difficulty of maintaining one’s integrity in a dog-eat-dog world.

The deleted scenes were rightfully cut, as they are unnecessary to the story as it was told. The feature commentary includes some anecdotes from the production and points out some falsities stated by the actors. However, several of the same comments are made in the ”making of” feature. The biggest disappointment is the outtakes, which is just one scene repeatedly ruined by the actors’ laughter. In a movie with known comedic actors, one expects an array of cracked-up scenes.

The guys who brought us Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy have teamed up once again for Step Brothers – the result of a brainstorming session between Will Ferrell, John C. Riley and director Adam McKay.

Brennan Huff (Ferrell) is a sensitive, periodically employed 39-year-old who lives with his mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen). Dale Doback (Riley) is a 40-year-old idea guy with no real work experience (he manages a fantasy baseball team) who lives with his father, Robert (Richard Jenkins). When Nancy and Robert get married, Brennan and Dale are forced to co-exist in the same house. Dale takes on the role of older, bullying brother but both react to most situations as adolescent boys. However, their immaturity and neediness threatens to break the newly formed family apart.

Ferrell and Riley are in top form. Their chemistry on-screen and ability to feed off of each other’s energy results in constant and consistent hilarity – even when they’re annoying, they’re funny. That said, watching two grown men act like spoiled children can be grating at times. Not surprisingly, Ferrell once again displays his singing abilities (among other things).

The parents are an integral part of the story’s humour and Jenkins and Steenburgen are irreplaceable; Jenkins is great as the exasperated father and Steenburgen can draw laughter simply by cursing. Adam Scott plays Brennan’s younger, more successful brother Derek. He is arrogant and never passes an opportunity to torment Brennan; Scott is perfectly smug in the role. His wife, Alice (Kathryn Hahn), is frustrated and ready to break-free of her oppressor, which manifests as comic, manic advances on another man. Together, their family destroys Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”

Although the characters are in similar situations, they are inherently different, which results in their initial dislike of each other as well as their eventual camaraderie. It also ensures audiences will not bore watching mirror reactions.

It would be simple to compose a list of all the hilarious scenes or dialogue; similarly, it would be easy to compile a list of the annoying bits. Luckily, the former would far outweigh the latter, which is mostly thanks to a very entertaining cast.