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SE7EN

Director David Fincher’s SE7EN ($30) is the kind of a movie that definitely makes an impression on a viewer. This is a dark, disturbing thriller that pulls no punches and makes no apologies for the nature of its subject matter. SE7EN contains some intense, gruesome imagery that is definitely not for the squeamish and there are portions of the film that are certain to enrage some viewers. This is the only warning about SE7EN that I will give to those individuals who have never seen the film. Additionally, I will not discuss the plot in any significant detail, since SE7EN is a movie that is best experienced without prior knowledge of the film.

SE7EN follows two homicide detectives, who find themselves on the trail of a calculating serial killer who patterns his crimes upon the Seven Deadly Sins. Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride, Envy and Wrath all have their moments in the spotlight, with each crime being more horrifying than the last. Director Fincher creates some unbearable moments in the film, as well as creating stylish imagery that is sometimes both beautiful and repellent. SE7EN stars Morgan Freeman as Somerset, the deeply contemplative and methodical homicide detective who becomes involved in this shocking case, just seven days before his planned retirement. Freeman’s performance is the most interesting to watch, however Brad Pitt shows himself to be a capable, expressive actor as Somerset’s brash, impatient new partner Mills. A pre-Oscar Gwyneth Paltrow turns in a sympathetic performance as Mill’s beautiful, young wife Tracy and Kevin Spacey creates another unforgettable characterization as John Doe.

The full blown Platinum Series edition of SE7EN is the second time that New Line Home Video has issued this particular film on DVD. And, unlike the first release, the movie is presented on a single side of a disc for continuous playback from beginning to end. Despite having to flip the disc over in midstream, the original DVD release of SE7EN boasted an impressive wide screen presentation. However, for the Platinum Series release, New Line has gone back to square one and created a brand new 16:9 enhanced wide screen transfer from the movie’s original camera negative. This new transfer is such a marked improvement, that it completely blows away the first DVD release of SE7EN. Director Fincher supervised every color correction, creating a version of SE7EN that is closer to his intentions than even the original theatrical prints. Meticulously framed at 2.40:1, this transfer is astonishing in its cleanness, clarity and its detail. The intentional graininess of the film’s original cinematography remains, but in all other respects the image is virtually perfect. Colors are subdued in comparison to most other Hollywood films released within the last five years, but this is how Fincher intended the world in which the narrative takes place to look- somewhat bleak, but otherwise quite realistic. There are no signs of chromatic distortion on this DVD. SE7EN is a dark movie that benefits from reference quality black reproduction. Shadow detail is good for a movie that is supposed to be very dark and the contrast maintains its evenness throughout the various lighting situations. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed by first rate, dual layer authoring. SE7EN features newly re-mixed Dolby Digital and DTS 6.1 soundtracks that have been designed specifically for the home theater environment. The Dolby Digital track is very impressive, although it is not a showy mix. Surround effects are subtle in nature, although the rear channels do serve to enhance Howard Shore’s evocative musical score. The forward soundstage is far more active and far more life like than the rears. Channel separation is pronounced and sound effects cleanly pan across the front when given the opportunity. Dialogue reproduction is completely natural and fully intelligible. The bass channel is surprisingly active, although the activity is at times very subtle. A Dolby Surround soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English and French subtitles.

The Platinum Series release of SE7EN has been spread over two DVDs, with the majority of the supplements falling onto the second disc. The interactive menus on both discs are similarly themed and make use of animation and sound to enhance the interface. The standard scene selection and set up features are available on disc one, as well four separate audio commentaries. Commentary one focuses on The Stars and features director David Fincher and actors Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Fincher and Pitt’s comments were recorded together, while Freeman’s appear to have been edited in. However, this track is the most entertaining and the one that casual fans will find the most rewarding. Commentary two focuses on The Story and features David Fincher, screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, editor Richard Francis-Bruce and New Line President of Production Michael De Luca. Commentary three focuses on The Picture and features David Fincher, Richard Francis-Bruce, director of photography Darius Khondji and production designer Arthur Max. Commentary four focuses on The Sound and features David Fincher, Composer Howard Shore and Sound Designer Ren Klyce. This final commentary is in 5.1 and also features an isolated rendition of Howard Shore’s score. All of the commentary tracks have their rewards, but if you are going to listen to just one- go with the first.

Disc two’s supplements start with a look at the film’s opening credit sequence. Making use of the multi-angle feature, there are three separate angles for storyboards, rough cut and completed version, plus there are six individual soundtrack options that let one explore the opening credit sequence in its various incarnations. The DVD also features a number of deleted scenes and extended cuts of scenes, including the film’s original opening sequence showing Morgan Freeman’s character at the home in which he plans to retire to. Optional commentary is provided for these scenes, as well as two alternate endings for the film. One ending is a test ending, while the other is an un-filmed ending that is shown using animated storyboards. Disc two also includes an extensive still gallery section that offers a look at the film’s "John Doe’s" photographs, crime scene photos, production photographs, production design and sets. There is also a section on John Doe’s notebooks, which runs over eight minutes. However, My favorite supplement is the Mastering For The Home Theater section, which shows in great detail how the appearance of movies is corrected for home video. This section also covers the re-mixing of the film’s soundtrack for this release. One really can’t appreciate how much work goes into getting a movie to look and sound incredible on DVD, until they watch and listen to this particular supplement. To drive the point home, a Telecine Gallery is also included that provides comparisons on the same scenes from the older version of SE7EN and the new one. This is a look and listen not to be missed. Filling out the traditional supplements is a theatrical trailer and cast filmographies. SE7EN is also DVD-ROM enabled, which allows one to access the film’s screenplay, as well as a number of web links.

With their Platinum Series release of SE7EN New Line Home Video has produced another incredible DVD. While the film itself is disturbing, I can’t recommend the DVD highly enough to anyone who may even be remotely interested in the material. For those who have the original disc and think that it’s "good enough" think again- this new DVD is definitely worth the upgrade. Kudos to New Line for once again going above and beyond the call of duty to produce an outstanding DVD!

 
SE7EN 


Seven - Platinum Series

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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