Se7en (1995) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Drama
New Line || R - 127 minutes - $34.99 || September 14, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-09-11


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: David Fincher
Writer(s): Andrew Kevin Walker (written by)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey


Theatrical Release Date: September 22, 1995


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 4 Feature Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Featurettes
  • Photo Galleries


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.

Se7en in two words: modern classic. I personally feel it is David Fincher’s best work to date and although the films he’s directed since have been fine, even great (Zodiac), nothing can measure up to the drab and dark unnamed city he created with writer Andrew Kevin Walker, a hell that makes Gotham City look like a lovely place to visit amidst the Joker’s rampage. But for as dark as the movie is, it never becomes depressing and instead the story pulls you in and won’t let you go, no matter how many times you watch.

The basic plot, and it is pretty simple, centers on Detectives William Somerset (MORGAN FREEMAN) and David Mills (BRAD PITT), one is on his way out to get away from the stench that is an uncaring city while the other, for some odd reason, applies to actually move there thinking he can make a difference.

When an obese man is found dead, face in a bowl of soup and hands and feet tied, they quickly determine the man was forced to eat himself to death. Somerset knows that this is only the beginning and thus wants nothing to do with the case as he is only days away from getting away. Mills, being a gun-ho fellow he is, eagerly asks for the case but their captain (R. LEE ERMEY in a nice changeup from his typical drill sergeant roles) isn’t having it forcing it upon Somerset.

Meanwhile, the next day Mills gets the case when a high profile, and often revered defense attorney is murdered, sides slit open and the word “GREED” written in his blood on the floor. The cases become connected when Somerset, going back to the fat man’s crime scene, discovers hidden behind the fridge the word “SLOTH” written in grease. Now he knows for sure this is only the beginning and resigns himself that he must stay on to see it through.

What follows is a maze of sorts as they pursue leads to find the elusive man they know only as ‘John Doe’ but as Somerset warns Mills, “If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he's Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he's not the devil. He's just a man.”

Se7en works on so many levels: as a mystery surrounding utterly disturbing crimes; as a psychological thriller following two detectives trying to take down the killer; as a character drama and how a man new to a decrepit and depraved city can quickly fall down the rabbit hole to utter darkness, not to mention another man who has lived in such a place for far too long. It’s a brilliant movie by David Fincher and in my mind, with many good films under his belt, his best to date.

However, beyond the character development, the use of an unnamed and depraved city as the background or even an incredible performance by (spoiler alert) Kevin Spacey as John Doe is the crimes themselves. I fear that if this movie were made today – or more horrifically, remade today – the studio and/or filmmakers would go the Saw or Hostel (i.e. torture porn) route and went further to push the boundaries in order to shock the audience rather than entice them with an involving story and characters that actually matter than tools to showcase a writer’s deep, depraved and frankly disturbing mind. Listen, I liked and even partially respect the original Saw as a good psychological thriller but that franchise has devolved into a mess.

In any case, David Fincher and Andrew Kevin Walker do a brilliant job in showing the aftermath of the killings but allowing the human mind to imagine how John Doe committed these crimes rather than spoon feeding it to us and, in part, to shock the audience rather than focusing on the story and characters, two items that should be the forefront of any movie but is often left on the wayside.

In terms of the casting, we all know what the ageless Morgan Freeman is capable of as not only does he have an incredible voice for narration, most notably Shawshank Redemption, another classic in its own right. But the most surprising, especially for its time (the mid 90s) is that we discovered that Brad Pitt is actually a good actor. Pitt was more or less a pretty boy appearing in various films like Interview with a Vampire, Thelma & Louise and Cool World before becoming a respected actor for some good performances in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (for a summer action romp), Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Inglorious Basterds. For Se7en, I think his performance has a bit more range but it is that final scene that solidified it for me that he is a great actor.

The supporting cast does what any good supporting actor should do and that’s developing the main characters. Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt don’t really have that many scenes together but the little time they are together helps us better understand who Detective Mills is while R. Lee Ermey in a strange way helps us to understand Somerset and his mindset throughout the movie.

Overall, I cannot say enough about Se7en from the incredible performances to Fincher’s masterful storytelling abilities to the movie as a whole. It’s a great psychological drama that if you for some odd reason have not seen it need to do so immediately. It is, in my mind, easily David Fincher’s best work and should have received more critical attention back in 1995, but thanks to home video (DVD/Blu-ray), it lives on.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray comes housed in a digibook case that comes with a 30-page book with pictures and trivia on various parts of the movie like the cast and such. The photos are on super glossy paper which has a nice feeling to it. It also looks like Warner ported over all the features from the 2-disc New Line Platinum Series DVD.

BEHIND THE STORY

There are four feature commentaries:
1. David Fincher, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman – Fincher and Pitt were recorded together while Freeman was separate. The track is fairly well balanced with Fincher/Pitt taking the most time but Freeman gets some insights in as well. All around, this is my favorite track as it offers up some tid-bits on the filming but it also fun as at least we get two of them together to bounce stories off of one another.

2. Richard Dyer (moderator), Andrew Kevin Walker (writer), Richard Francis-Bruce (editor), Michael de Luca (New Line developer) and David Fincher – The track is also patched together from various people involved with the project with Dyer, a film historian, serving as the guide for the track. It’s not a terribly fascinating track for me but I know others will love it as it goes into different aspects of the story.

3. Richard Dyer, Darius Khondji (cinematographer), Arthur Max (production designer), Richard Francis-Bruce and David Fincher – Where the previous commentary focuses on the story aspects, this one goes over the look of the film featuring some of the same participants but also includes the DP and production designer. Again, not all too interesting to me but I can see how others will find it worthwhile, especially aspiring filmmakers.

4. Richard Dyer, Ren Klyce (sound designer), Howard Shore (composer) and David Fincher – Of the four tracks, this is probably my least favorite, however compared with most common tracks on other DVDs and Blu-rays, it’s not bad just not my cup of tea (sound design doesn’t do anything for me). Those interested in getting into the sound game in Hollywood or just making an independent film might find use for it.

Production Designs (8:56) – This is a collection of designs with production designer Arthur Max providing a voice over giving more detail on them and what’s behind them story-wise.

There are also still photographs (John Doe’s Photographs, Victor’s Decomposition, Police Crime Scene Photographs, Production Photographs and The Notebooks) available for you to peruse.

ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE

Deleted Scenes and Extended Takes (19:20; SD) – There are several scenes/takes provided that is nice to watch but given the movie was perfect as was, it’s good they were removed, but we do get it here. One such scene has Freeman looking at a country house he’s thinking of buying. There is an optional commentary by Fincher you can listen to as he explains why it was removed and just general feelings about the scene.

Alternate Endings (12:56; SD) – The two alt. endings are available here with, again, an optional commentary with Fincher. One is just a storyboarded ending while the other isn’t a whole lot different just different takes.


Exploration of the Opening Title Sequence (2:51; SD) – With this feature, you can choose from three angle options (early storyboards, rough version, final version) and several audio options (Stereo Surround, Dolby EX Near Field, DTS ES Surround, 24 bit/96khz Stereo) and you can play it with an audio commentary (2 available).

EXTRAS

Theatrical EPK (6:40; SD) – This is a mid-90s making-of with some on-set behind-the-scenes footage but this is a real basic featurette made as a way to sell the movie and even has the old “trailer voice” as a voice-over.

Mastering for the Home Theater (23:18; SD) has three sections, one for the audio mastering, second for video mastering and the last for color correction. Each shows some footage from the film as examples with commentary over it from those behind each department doing some compare and contrast.

Telecine Gallery – With this feature you can chose from 3 different scenes (outside gluttony, inside gluttony and coda), 2 angle options (original and new video masters) and 2 audio options (original and new 5.1 mixes). You can switch from one angle or audio via the angle button or audio button. Unfortunately my remote does not have an angle button and I imagine quite a few Blu-ray remotes no longer has it either.

Last on the disc is the theatrical trailer (2:28; SD).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Se7en is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition on a 50GB Blu-ray disc. Given my experiences with catalog titles, most if not all of the major studios have introduced flawed older titles onto the Blu-ray disc format and while some look nice, more often than not, that’s all they are... nice. So I went into watching this one with skepticism and I am happy to say that my fears were unfounded as this dank, dark, 15 year old movie actually looks pretty damn good in high-definition. According to a sticker placed on the outer wrapper, this is apparently a new transfer and an all around impressive one as despite how dark the film is, there’s still a good amount of detail level throughout plus some film noise and/or grain that only adds to the detail. Black levels are thankfully good though it may seem crushed I believe that may have been the style Fincher was going after.

The Blu-ray comes with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is in a word, excellent. Of course, outside of one chase scene there really isn’t a whole lot of action to the track is more effective presenting the film’s dark atmospheric score which makes use of the side and rear channels as well as the dialogue using the center speaker mostly. The rear channels also get used for ambient noises or side chatter while the main action was on the center and side channels.



.::OVERALL::.

It’s easy enough to recommend a movie like Se7en but the fact that both the video and audio are fantastic makes this a no-brainer: buy this Blu-ray immediately, that is, if you are a fan of the movie. While the features are lacking in terms of a more comprehensive behind-the-scenes documentary, what is there and ported over from the Platinum Series DVD is still pretty damn good and 100x better than most features released today.