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Even after fifteen years, director David Fincher’s SE7EN ($35) remains the kind of a movie that makes a definite 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. That being said, there still are those individuals out there, who have never seen SE7EN and remain unfamiliar with the film and its dark subject matter. For this reason, I will not discuss the plot in any significant detail, since SE7EN is a movie that is best experienced without any prior knowledge of its inner workings.

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 is also quite good 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, while Kevin Spacey creates unforgettable character known only as John Doe. Heck, Spacey manages to steal the show, just about every moment he is on the screen. The cast of SE7EN also features R. Lee Ermey, Richard Roundtree, John C. McGinley, Michael Massee, Leland Orser and Richard Schiff.

New Line Home Entertainment has made SE7EN available on Blu-ray Disc in 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. SE7EN has been given a stark, stunning and disturbingly beautiful 1080p presentation that is certain to thrill fans. There are excellent levels of sharpness, clarity, fine detail and even dimensionality to be found throughout the presentation. SE7EN also conveys a austere, raw and contrasted quality to many of the visuals, which are flawlessly rendered here. All of this is rather remarkable, because SE7EN is really a rather dark looking movie. Colors are subdued and add to the bleakness of the world in which Fincher’s has envisioned for his characters. Blacks are pitch perfect, while whites are crisp and clean. Contrast has been manipulated to intensify the starkness of the visuals. For all the darkness, shadow detail is surprisingly good. The elements from which SE7EN have been mastered are free from flaws. Grain is apparent, but not excessive to such a dark film. The presentation maintains the organic quality of film.

SE7EN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Despite the lack of big action scenes with blazing guns and explosions, the soundtrack is very impressive. With its dialogue driven police procedural storyline, this is not a showy mix, but it does contain an amazing subtlety, clarity and lifelike quality that immerses one in the world that the characters inhabit. Sound effects are precisely placed but don’t call undue attention to themselves. Of course, the forward soundstage is far more active than the rears, with pronounced channel separations across the front. However, the rear channels also do serve to augment Howard Shore’s evocative musical score. Speaking of the score, the lossless encode does bolster its fidelity and musical presence, not to mention that of the incidental music on the soundtrack. The bass channel is solid enough for the material, without becoming overwhelming. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been provided, as has a Spanish 2.0 channel track. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

The interactive menu gives one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features, which have been ported from the DVD release. Starting things off are four separate running 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 Dolby Digital 640kbps 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.

Exploration Of The Opening Title Sequence offers 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. There are also a number of Deleted Scenes and Extended 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. There is also 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 home video release. One really can’t appreciate how much work goes into getting a movie to look and sound incredible, 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 various versions of SE7EN. This is a look and listen not to be missed. Filling out the supplements is a Theatrical Trailer. SE7EN features book styled packaging that contains thirty-six pages of photos and production notes.

SE7EN remains a powerful film that is undiminished by time. I have watched SE7EN repeatedly, and every time, it makes a visceral impact. The Blu-ray presentation is absolutely first rate. Very highly recommended.


Seven [Blu-ray] (1995)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 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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