New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Deleted Scenes and Alternate Endings, Various Featurettes, Storyboards, Photo Galleries, Trailers and much more
I remember the day I went to see a movie in theaters that was rather obscure at the time, from a director no one had ever heard of, and leaving the theater absolutely stunned and dazed. I had just experienced one of the most disturbing and unsettling films I had ever seen. The movie was, of course, David Fincher's "Se7en", which is now available on Blu-Ray from New Line Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video.
David Fincher's suspenseful and gritty thriller grips you, leaving you speechless and pondering once the end credits have finished rolling, even while watching the supplements. With its dark and morbid atmosphere and the uncompromising down-beat ending it will leave you thinking about what just sped by you. Harsh and real, "Se7en" is a homicide thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat for its entire running length, and it will not fail to impress its disturbing mood upon you, sending shivers and chills down your spine. It is so dark, in fact, that I know more than a handful of people who have sworn never to watch this film again – a statement only horror films like "The Exorcist" can typically claim for themselves.
Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman play as a pair of homicide detectives on a quest to solve a mysterious series of murders. Lt. Somerset (Freeman) is a burnt-out veteran cop on the brink of his retirement when he is teamed up with his replacement, an ambitious and fervent Brad Pitt as Detective David Mills. Two worlds collide as they struggle to accept each other even as a serial killer haunts the streets of this unnamed city, taking upon himself the burden of the Hand of God. He commits various creative punishments on people he feels exemplify the nature of the seven deadly sins. It takes all of the detectives' experience and effort to track the bloody trail of John Doe (Kevin Spacey), who in turn enjoys toying with the cops, planting clues as part of his deadly vision.
Fincher's world is dark, gray and foreboding through most of the movie and destroys any hope of salvation you might have for this urban civilization. Even the opening credits are murky, jerky, near-subliminally interspersed with disturbing crime-scene photos. Drenching rain is falling from depressingly cloudy gray skies for most of the movie, underscoring the unhealthy and fatalistic nature of this picture. "Se7en's" claustrophobic urban world rustles with cockroaches, and is filled with piles of rotten junk to the point that you can almost smell the putrid miasma. When the scenes begin to brighten and we finally move into broad daylight, it is only for the most gripping climax suspense cinema has seen in a long time, in a counterpoint revealing the abominable abyss of the dark and masochistic soul of the killer.
New Line Home Video is presenting "Se7en" in a gorgeous 1080p high definition transfer on this Blu-Ray Disc that is adding immensely to the overall experience. Like with the previous DVD releases, the transfer has been meticulously put together to make sure it matches exactly David Fincher's original vision. The result is a high definition version of "Se7en" that is spectacular and has to be seen to be believed! You can quite literally throw away your DVD version by comparison as a mediocre impostor.
Virtually free of blemishes and speckles, the transfer also shows no notable signs of noise, creating a presentation that is not only absolutely stable but also features a remarkable level of detail. The movie's desaturated look, which gives it its morbid and somber tone, is taking on a form on this release that has never been witnessed before. With staggeringly subtle shades, beautifully rendered gradients and amazing contrast, the image on this Blu-Ray Disc will take your breath away as your entering the seedy underbelly of our society in absolutely shockingly high definition. The omnipresent blacks in the film are deep and solid but maintain a surprising level of shadow definition, suddenly revealing image elements that had been invisible before, even in theatrical prints. The presentation is entirely devoid of compression artifacts, completely maintaining the incredible level of detail of the transfer.
What would "Se7en" be without its murderous soundtrack? Chilling to the bone like the pervasive rain in the film, Howard Shore's sound track has always been another highlight of this movie. To pay full tribute to this, New Line has prepared a DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio track for this release, and it surely pays off. To describe the eerie power of the film's soundtrack is impossible and you will have to make the experience for yourself, but like its visual counterpart, New Line has created an audio presentation for this disc that is out of this world, let's simply leave it at that.
Culled altogether from the Platinum Edition DVD, this Blu-Ray version contains a good number of extras, though sadly most of them are presented in their previous standard definition. As such you will find the four separate audio commentaries on the disc once again, each one focussing on specific issues of the production. The first one, features director David Fincher and actors Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in an engaging journey back to the production of the film. With many thoughts, interpretations and discussion of the shooting of the film and the characters, this commentary is certainly the one that will be appealing to most viewers. Without pauses and always filled with educated, interesting tidbits, make sure to check it out.
The second commentary is working more on an intellectual level, taking a close look at the story, the way it is written, presented in the film, and many affiliated subjects. It is a moderated commentary track that nonetheless feels quite free flowing, featuring author Richard Dyer, director David Fincher, writer Andrew Kevin Walker, editor Richard Francis-Bruce and Michael De Luca.
The third commentary also features an array of commentators, mostly focussing on the look and feel of the film. Cinematography and production design, as well specific thoughts that led to creative decision in the film are discussed in this moderated commentary track that will give film fans an unprecedented look into the visual creative process of making movies.
In the fourth commentary track the highlight is on the sound. Sound designer Ren Klyce and composer Howard Shore share their thoughts on the making of the film with director David Fincher and host Richard Dyer. Once again, this is a sophisticated discussion of topics surrounding the sonic presentation of a movie and how these decisions are made. To spice it up, this commentary also features isolated music and sound effects for illustrative purposes.
While one would think four commentary tracks for a single movie are overkill, in the case of "Se7en" this is certainly not the case. Each track is fascinating and exploring specific areas of the film, creating an image and understanding for the film its themes and the story that no film class could offer in that level of detail.
New Line Home Video always attempts to find a theme for their Special Editions to tie together their bonus materials in a way that is cohesive and highlights certain aspects of the movie. In the case of "Se7en" the choice of supplements is highly technical in nature, giving the release a sophistication that is not found on very many releases. You wont find an refurbished promo reels here or publicity footage that has been shown on TV to help raising awareness for the film. What you get here is a gritty and highly detailed look behind the scenes of the film in the form of featurettes and documentaries that have mostly been created specifically for the release on DVD and now Blu-Ray Disc.
An exploration of the creation of the film's title sequence is also included on the release. Although today many films feature elaborate credit sequences like the one in "Se7en," I remember that by the time the film was originally released in theaters, the title sequence was not only unique, but utterly impressive. Using multiple angles and a variety of selectable audio track, this 3-minute feature gives you an intimate look at these credits and how they were designed and put together.
Seven deleted scenes are also on the disc, which mostly consist of extended takes of existing scenes in the film. It is exciting to see how these scenes have been trimmed in the film and through the trimming have achieved an even stronger impact. All scenes are available with and without the director's commentary. Especially the alternate opening with alternate credits was very interesting to see. Down the same lines come two alternated endings of the movie, one of them presented in storyboard form here, as it has never been shot.
A gallery of production design and still photographs comes next. It is accompanied by a commentary offering a lot of insight into the process of its creation. Running almost 10 minutes, you will learn how the filmmakers have ultimately created the bleak, disturbing look and feel of the film.
An 8-minute featurette is solely dedicated to John Doe's notebooks in the film. The designers of these books give viewers an in-depth look at these intricate pieces of art. Be forewarned however, that this feature is not for the weak, as it contains plenty of explicit photographs of mutilation and torture. If you can stomach it however, this feature gives you a never-before-seen close-up look at the many pages in these books that breeze by in the actual film all too quickly.
Next up on the disc is the promotional material in the form of the original Electronic Press Kit and the film's theatrical trailer, as well as filmographies for many of the cast and crew members
A true gem can be found under the "Mastering For The Home Theater" section. In a series of featurettes for the first time you can get an in-depth look at how movies are prepared for home video release. Since so much work went into the creation of this particular release, with the film transfer, the audio remixes and other elements, this is the perfect release to showcase these processes on. Presenting most of the material in a before-after form that the viewer can switch between through the angle selection of the player and the different audio tracks, this is once again an unprecedented way to do an A/B comparison between untreated and treated material. This way, everyone can see and hear for themselves quite what a difference these treatments make on the end result. See how color correction affects the overall image and how the image can be correctly framed in the computer, and you will finally get the glimpse behind the scenes you have been waiting for for so long.
If you haven't seen "Se7en" on this Blu-Ray Disc yet, you simply have not seen the film at all. This is the version David Fincher always wanted us to see in terms of its visual presentation. I always thought, "Se7en" looked fantastic the way it was on DVD, but with this high definition transfer, it is now becoming obvious that the film has once again taken a huge step forward to playing up to its full potential. Combined with the phenomenal bonus materials found on this disc, "Se7en" has now become the exemplary film study subject of choice.
"Inse7enony" is the eighth Deadly Sin – not depicted in the film. It is the sin not to own this Blu-Ray Disc! One that you don't want resting on your shoulders, do you?