Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) has one week left until his retirement, which is an event he is much looking forward to. His captain (R. Lee Ermey) thinks he will remain on the force after all, but Somerset is determined to escape the city, which has become too corrupt in his eyes. He has seen the violence and loss his entire life, but has never become immune and looks to the day when he can leave it all behind him. His new partner (and perhaps replacement) has arrived in the form of David Mills (Brad Pitt), a detective who requested the transfer to this department. The two venture off to an unusual crime scene soon, where it seems as though a man has been force fed until his stomach exploded. After some intense research from Somerset, the discovery is made that this crime was more than a simple murder. As they’re working on that case, a famous trial lawyer is found bled to death, with the word “greed” scrawled across the floor in blood. Afterwards, Somerset returns to the scene of the first crime, where some work yields the hidden scribbling of “gluttony” on the wall in grease, which Somerset knows is bad news. With five days until his retirement, an ongoing hassle with Mills, and his own personal issues to resolve, this patterns of murders is the last thing Somerset wants to deal with.
I wanted to love this film when it was first released, but I was let down by what I saw. I’ve seen the movie more than a few times since and have started to warm up more, but I still think it falls short of the true potential. Director David Fincher and his crew conjure some excellent visuals and locations, while Morgan Freeman leads a more than decent cast. I think Se7en is one of the better serial killers out there, so genre fans will want to make sure to own this flick, especially in this new two disc edition. New Line first issued Se7en in a bare bones, non anamorphic disc back in the wee hours of DVD, but now we have a new, loaded release. In addition to the aforementioned problems, that first issue also had to be flipped halfway through the film, which has been solved in this edition. This is a loaded two disc Platinum Series title, which means excellence in all respects, one of New Line’s finest releases thus far, in fact. I think this disc works as a fantastic complement to Criterion’s laserdisc edition of the film as well, so if you own both releases, then you’re solid gold in terms of coverage. A very nice new transfer, superb audio mixes, and some terrific supplements, what more do you need to purchase this title?
I like the films of David Fincher a lot and even though I consider this his weakest film, it is loaded with intense visuals and is very well made. I know a lot of you will disagree with me, but I feel this is Fincher’s most mainstream work, thought it is not bad in the least. It seems to try too hard at times to shock or be offbeat, but thanks to an excellent production design team, the negatives are well counter balanced. Fincher’s usual dark approach works to perfection with this storyline, so there seems to be a natural mesh process from the start. This isn’t his finest film by any means, but as usual, Fincher is more than up to the task. Other films by Fincher include The Game, Alien 3, and Fight Club. The cast is here loaded with talent, but the man who saves the film is Morgan Freeman, who as always, is excellent. Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy) is superb in this film and is able to bring a strong base to the cast, which is much needed here. The cast also includes R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket, Leaving Las Vegas), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, Swimming With Sharks), Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love, Sliding Doors), and Brad Pitt (Twelve Monkeys, Kalifornia).
Video: How does it look?
“Se7en” has always looked good on DVD and now with its initial Blu-ray release, it delivers as expected. The 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer shines and, admittedly, there wasn’t a lot of room for improvement. For those that haven’t seen the film, “Se7en” has a very unique look and feel to it in that it pretty much runs the gambit in regards to color, texture and everything in between. About the only thing that really jumped out at me was the fine detail delineation. The film immediately just felt “sharper” to me, giving it more definition. Colors are all over the place and there was even a segment that showed how a filmed scene was tweaked in post production to give it a very polarized edge to it. Though the movie is a fifteen years old, we still see every wrinkle on Morgan Freeman’s face and though Brad Pitt didn’t really have wrinkles at the time, we see his five o’clock shadow and the various cuts that occur over the course of the film. As “interesting” a transfer as “Se7en” is, it looks that much better on Blu-ray.
Audio: How does it sound?
While it doesn’t immediately come to mind, I’d forgotten how good this movie sounded. The Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES tracks from the previous DVD are a thing of the past and have been replaced by a DTS HD Master Audio track that blows them both out of the water. This isn’t to say that the new track makes all the difference in the world; rather it just adds some substance and depth to the movie. Dialogue is, of course, very rich and full with no distortion in the least. Surrounds are constantly humming along and are there to add some ambiance in a number of scenes. The majority of the action takes place in the front stage, but little things like gunshots, the helicopter scene and even a car chase all sound that much better with this uncompressed track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
For those that purchased the special edition DVD back in 2000, you’ll find nothing much new here as all the commentaries (all four of them), deleted and extended scenes and so forth are all here. That said, the first track features Morgan Freeman, David Fincher, and Brad Pitt, who discuss general behind the scenes stuff and their thoughts on the character/film. This is a new track and not the same one found in Criterion’s edition, but it is still an informative and engaging experience. Next is a focus on the writing aspects of the film, with Fincher being joined by the screenwriter, editor, and Vice President of New Line. This is, again a very informative track and I think my choice as the best of those found on this disc. Fincher is back in the third track as well, which looks at the visuals of Se7en and features the director of photography and production designer as well. Another fine track that gives insight into another facet of the film, which is always welcome in my book. The final track covers the audio of Se7en and yes, Fincher is back and here we also find the composer and sound designer. In between comments, we’re treated to the isolated musical score, which is a nice touch. All in all, these four commentaries offer a ton of insight into Se7en and in the end, isn’t that what we film fans want?
A selection of deleted and extended sequences, which include an alternate opening and two alternate endings. You can also choose to hear Fincher’s comments on these sequences, which is good, since he explains why the scenes were axed from the final version. You can also view a wealth of stills here, from production photos to John Doe’s pictures to all sorts of other pieces, all with commentary from someone involved. The photos are well presented and with the commentary, you can learn a lot about them, which is cool. Also found here is a look at John Doe’s notebooks with commentary from the production team, an in depth and interactive look at the opening title sequence, a peek into the design sketches with commentary as well, a six minute fluff featurette, some talent files, and the film’s theatrical trailer.
The last lot of goodies concerns how this edition was re-mastered for home theaters, which should please you audio/videophiles in the viewership. Here we learn about the changes made to enhance and improve the audio experience, how this new visual transfer was overseen and created, and a wicked color correction demonstration. I was really taken back by how work went into re-mastering this film for this release, which makes me appreciate this edition that much more. It is interesting to watch as scenes are changed right in front of you, as you can see the tone and visual impact evolve as it happens. Very cool to be sure and thanks to these featurettes, we can all have a good look at how much work went into this edition of Se7en. You can also choose to watch a few sequences and using your angle buttons, compare the before and after in terms of audio and video options.