Review Date: February 15, 2001
Released by: New Line
Release date: 12/19/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
In 1995, director David Fincher gave the film-going public a film that is still discussed today. A film so mesmerizing that once viewed, you'll never forget it. This is the second release to DVD of this film, the first coming way back in 1997 and that first disc was a dreaded *flipper*; the extras consisted of nothing more than cast and crew bios. Now, three years after the initial disc release, New Line has presented fans of this outstanding film with a fantastic two disc release. No longer hampered with a *flipper*, this newest release has been given a completely new look taken directly from the original negative, a remixed soundtrack and more extras that you can shake a stick at! It should also be noted that there is a Criterion SE laserdisc available for this film that includes some supplements not found on the DVD, including a visual essay and commentary from effects specialist, Rob Bottin. So, let's take a closer look at this wonderful film and fantastic new release.
This is a tale of two detectives; one at the twilight of his career and preparing for retirement which will begin in one week, the other a young, overzealous detective who has just moved to this unnamed urban area and is ready to sink his teeth in an investigation....as long as it proves interesting. Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman
) is less than thrilled at being paired with Detective Mills (Brad Pitt
) and their immediate dislike of each other is very obvious at the site of their first investigation. The detectives have been called to the residence of a man found dead at his kitchen table. The morbidly obese man is found face down in a plate of food, his hands and feet bound and a pail of vomit under the table. Later, the two detectives are briefed, following the autopsy. They're told that the man's stomach had basically burst, as the result of a blunt trauma to his abdomen. Somerset and Mills are discussing the case with their captain and Somerset voices his opinion that this murder is just the beginning, he feels that given there is no motive, that there is some meaning behind this murder and there will be more murders to follow. He also asks that he be removed from the case, that he doesn't want to continue given the fact that he feels this is the beginning. Told by his supervisor that he will continue with the investigation, he does have one wish granted and that is, that Detective Mills should be assigned to another case.
The following day Mills is investigating the murder of a high-powered attorney, a murder in which the victim was forced to cut a pound of flesh from his body and the word GREED was written in his own blood on the carpet of his office. At the station, the captain hands Somerset a vial containing what appears to be small pieces of plastic, pieces that had been removed from the obese man's stomach. The captain also informs Somerset of the murdered attorney and the writing on the carpet. Somerset returns to the home of the first murder victim and begins looking for clues as to where the pieces of plastic may have come. He looks in the refrigerator and as the dim light shines on the floor, he notices marks on the floor where it has been gouged, as if the fridge was moved. He places one of the pieces in a gouge mark and sees that it fits perfectly. He pulls the fridge from the wall and written in grease on the wall is the word.....GLUTTONY. Back at the precinct Somerset explains what he believes is happening to the Captain and Mills. He explains that there are *Seven Deadly Sins*....Greed, Gluttony, Pride, Sloth, Envy, Lust and Wrath and that the two murders that have already taken place are indeed, just the beginning.
Somerset and Mills are thrust together, once again, this time forging an uneasy alliance in their efforts to capture the killer. Mills' wife Tracy (Gwenyth Paltrow
), unhappy in her new surroundings and lonely for friendship, reaches out in a private meeting with Somerset and explains that this isn't where she wants to be or to raise the child she is carrying.....a child she's not told her husband about. Meanwhile, the murders continue, each one more brutal than the previous and still, it seems that the killer is toying with the detectives. When five murders have taken place, it seems the detectives are doomed to fail at capturing the killer before he carries out the final two murders and completes his, *masterpiece*........
At the precinct the two detectives are approached by a man, covered in his own blood and proclaiming.....I am the one! Taken into custody, *John Doe's* lawyer approaches the detectives with a deal; according to Doe (Kevin Spacey
), he has completed his *masterpiece* and he will lead the detectives to it, but only if both Somerset and Mills agree to accompany him. Both Mills and Somerset agree to the stipulations and the three men set out on a drive that will answer more questions than either detective can imagine.
This film is an unrelenting ride of shocks and twists. David Fincher has given fans of several genres a film to really sink their teeth into. Where this film succeeds is the visual aspect of the film, it is graphic and brutal, but in all actuality, most of the violence is done off screen and the viewer is left with just quick views of the aftermath of the crime. As is true with most horror, that which you can't see is the most disturbing, because in one's mind, the horrors are much more real and graphic. The story is filled with a dark, foreboding atmosphere and the dreariness and rain that is constantly falling only add to the mood.
is presented in a new, anamorphic enhanced widescreen picture of 2.35:1 from the original negative. Now, this was my first time seeing this film on disc, but from what I've been told, this is a vast improvement over the earlier release. The transfer is clean and exhibits very little grain. The images appeared very sharp and detailed with the colors looking deep and natural. Flesh tones come across with a very natural look and the blacks appear solid. Overall, a wonderful looking transfer.
The sound for this disc is simply amazing! The soundtrack has been completely remixed. It's available in Dolby Digital 5.1 with Surround EX compatibility and DTS 6.1 ES. I can honestly say that this is one of the better sounding discs I've experienced. The soundtrack isn't overly aggressive, but it is atmospheric and the clarity is sharp and very detailed. The dialogue comes through crisp and clear and the remixing of the soundtrack really benefits the musical aspects of the film.
OK, if you happen to be one of those DVD/film fans that never feels there's quite enough extras included on a disc, then these discs should send you right over the edge! These are easily the most packed discs in my collection and the extras aren't something you'll get through in one sitting, unless you have a ton of time on your hands. Disc one boasts no less than FOUR audio commentaries! Here is a quick breakdown of the commentaries you have a choice of:
Audio Commentary One
: The Stars - Director David Fincher, Actor Brad Pitt, Actor Morgan Freeman
This commentary is both insightful and funny at times. Fincher and Pitt seem to be very at ease with each other and you also hear how they approached this film individually. Freeman adds nicely to the commentary as well, but I almost had the feeling that Freeman may have recorded his commentary separately from Fincher and Pitt.
Audio Commentary Two:
The Story - Professor of Film Studies/Author Richard Dyer, Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, Editor Richard Francis-Bruce, New Line Cinema's President of Production Michael De Luca, and David Fincher.
I enjoyed this commentary for the fact it was enjoyable hearing the history of the story, the approach that was taken by screenwriter Walker and the editing of the film by Francis-Bruce. This is an interesting track just to learn a little of the behind-the-scenes history of the film.
Audio Commentary Three:
The Picture - Director of Photography Darius Khondji, Production Designer Arthur Max, Editor Richard Francis-Bruce, Richard Dyer, and David Fincher
Not my favorite of the commentary tracks for the simple fact that at times it came across too technical for my liking, but probably any student of film would enjoy the in-depth talk and discussions of the technical aspects of the film.
Audio Commentary Four
: The Sound - Sound Designer Ren Klyce, Composer Howard Shore, Richard Dyer, and David Fincher
This is a very fun commentary and leans a bit towards being my fave of the four commentary tracks. It includes isolated music and effects cues and is generally quite interesting to *listen* to.
Think that's it? Those extras alone would be enough to make most fans happy, but that's just disc one! Disc two is jam packed with plenty more to keep you glued to your easy chair. Here's a quick breakdown of what you'll discover on the second disc in this two-disc set:
* Exploration of the opening title sequence (3 video 'angles' and 6 audio tracks):
-English Stereo Surround Sound
-English Dolby EX near field mix created specifically for this DVD
-English 24bit/96Khz Stereo mix created specifically for this DVD
-Stereo audio commentary one - The Concept - Designer Kyle Cooper
-Stereo audio commentary three - The Sound - Audio engineers Brant Biles and Robert Margouleff
* Deleted scenes and extended takes (these scenes can be watched with or without director commentary)
-1) Original opening including storyboards- includes animated storyboards of opening
-2) Car ride in from Gluttony
-3) *Spare some change?*
-4) "My future"
-5) Tracy wakes from light sleep
-6) Raid on Victor's
* Alternate endings (each can be watched with or without director commentary)
-1) Original test ending
-2) Animated storyboards of unshot ending
* Production designs
* Animated gallery with commentary by production designer Arthur Max
* Still photographs
* John Doe's photographs
* Animated gallery with commentary by photographer Melodie McDaniel
* Victor's decomposition
* Animated gallery with commentary by David Fincher
* Police crime scene photos
* Animated gallery with commentary by photographer Peter Sorel
* Production stills
* Animated gallery with commentary by photographer Peter Sorel
* The Notebooks
* Animated gallery with commentary by designers John Sabel and Clive Piercy
* Promotional materials
* Theatrical EPK, theatrical trailer
* Mastering for the home theater-broken down into these chapters:
-Audio mastering by Brant Biles and Robert Margouleff
-Video mastering by colorist Stephen Nakamura and New Line Cinema's Vice President of Video Post Production Evan Edelist
-Color correction by Stephen Nakamura Telecine Gallery
- Alternate Angles between the old and new video and audio masters (Three angles)
There you have it, one of the most in-depth supplemental discs I've ever seen! These supplements are well worth the time needed to sit and go through them, they are both enjoyable and if someone actually takes the time to listen, they can hear some interesting information about the film, the personalities involved and the story behind the film itself. If you happen to be a casual fan of the film, chances are, after viewing the film and the supplements, you're going to find yourself loving this film and if you've always been a big fan of this film, watching these two discs is just going to solidify those feelings.
I first saw this film on pay-per-view several years ago and was immediately blown away by the film. I've heard many fans say they feel the film was far too predictable and for some, that may overshadow just how good this film really is. The complete feeling of dread I had when watching this film still stands, today, several years after seeing the film for the first time. The acting is superb and you find yourself drawn to each character on some level. Spacey's short screen time is memorable and Freeman and Pitt play very well off each other. I can't say enough good about this film, if you've not seen this before or it's been a while, then by all means, pick this disc up and enjoy a fantastic viewing experience. New Line has managed to take an enjoyable film and make it a whole new experience with the release of this double-disc. This is a prime example of how all films should be released to discs.....from the fantastic looking film, the wonderful sound remixes and the amazing amount of extras, I can with all confidence recommend this as a DVD that every fan should check out and have no doubt that everyone will find something about the discs to keep them coming back to watch again and again.
Movie - A
Image Quality - A
Sound - A
Supplements - A+
- Running Time - 2 hours 7 minutes
- Rated R
- 2 Discs
- 37 Chapter Stops
- English (DTS), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 6.1 EX)
- English subtitles
- French subtitles
- Four audio commentary tracks
- Deleted scenes and extended takes
- Alternate endings with animated storyboards
- Exploration of opening title sequence
- Multiple animated galleries featuring: Production designs, Stills, Crime scene photos used in the film
- John Doe's notebooks, photos and more
- Original theatrical trailer
- DVD-ROM exclusive: A comprehensive John Doe web site penetrating the killer's mind with links to his photo gallery, several of his fan sites, reading list and exploration of the seven deadly sins