S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
The Game [Blu-ray]
(David Fincher, 1997)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Polygram Filmed Entertainment
Video:Universal Home Video (UK) vs. Criterion Collection - Spine # 627
Region: FREE! /Region 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:08:38.37 /2:08:48.262
Disc Size: 33,418,033,419 bytes / 48,077,262,359 bytes
Feature Size: 32,725,186,560 bytes / 39,072,528,384 bytes
Video Bitrate: 22.80 Mbps / 29.49 Mbps
Chapters: 33 / 29
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: October 25th, 2010 / September 18th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 /2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: VC-1 Video /MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4195 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4195 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio German 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Portuguese 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Russian 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4312 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 4312 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz /
1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, none
Audio commentary by director David
Fincher, Savides, actor Michael Douglas, screenwriters John
Brancato and Michael Ferris, digital animation supervisor
Richard “Dr.” Baily, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft,
and visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug
• Psychological Test Film (1:11)
• Trailer (2:26) and teaser (1:34), Teaser Render Test (:59) with commentary
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt
Description: The enormously wealthy and emotionally remote investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) receives a strange gift from his ne’er-do-well younger brother (Sean Penn) on his forty-eighth birthday: a voucher for a game that, if he agrees to play it, will change his life. Thus begins a trip down the rabbit hole that is puzzling, terrifying, and exhilarating for Nicholas and viewers alike. This multilayered, noirish descent into one man’s personal hell is also a surreal, metacinematic journey that, two years after the phenomenon Se7en, further demonstrated that director David Fincher was one of Hollywood’s true contemporary visionaries.
For the follow-up to his dark crime thriller Seven, director David Fincher decided to remain in a film noir vein. The result is The Game, a fast-paced cinematic roller-coaster ride that stars Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton, a joyless San Francisco investment banker who receives an unusual birthday present from his estranged younger brother, Conrad (Sean Penn). The gift enrolls Nicholas in CRS (Consumer Recreation Services), a company that designs elaborate real-life games for each specific participant. As the game begins, the reluctant Nicholas becomes the victim of a series of pranks that quickly turn malicious and dangerous. Stripped of his finances and convinced that he can trust no one, Nicholas realizes that this game may be an attempt to steal his fortune and leave him for dead. In a desperate bid to regain his life, Nicholas infiltrates CRS in order to uncover the secrets of the mysterious organization. Douglas is perfect playing the uptight businessman Nicholas, cleverly riffing on his Oscar-winning performance as the cold-blooded Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Fincher's Kafkaesque carnival show is an exercise in taut filmmaking that mischievously pulls a seemingly endless supply of rugs out from under both Nicholas and, even more impressive, the viewer.
"The Game,'' written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, is
David Fincher's first film since "Seven,'' and projects the same
sense of events being controlled by invisible manipulation. This time,
though, there's an additional element: Van Orton is being broken down
and reassembled like the victim of some cosmic EST program. And it is
unclear, to him and to us, whether the Game is on the level of a fraud,
or perhaps spinning out of control.
captures were taken directly from the
There was a, less-than-stellar received, HD-DVD version of The Game released back in April of 2007 HERE. This Blu-ray exceeds the single-disc capacity of that, now-defunct, format - although it does use the same VC-1 encode. This is dual-layered with a moderate bitrate for the 2-hour film and it can look quite thick and heavy - a similar description of the HD-DVD. This is actually how I recall the theatrical appearance as well - dark, murky and shadowy - almost harkening back to classic noir low-lit visuals. There is plenty of rich grain but also noise in some of the darkest scenes but this seemed more prevalent on DVD. There is a German Blu-ray with similar technical stats - but not exact - from what I have been told. This Blu-ray has some depth and looks reasonably competent in-motion. It is very clean and the image quality is consistent. My guess is that this is not far off Fincher's intended appearance (read 'style') for the film - meaning it is not pristinely sharp or bright.
The differences with the Criterion are fairly subtle but do exist. I saw this theatrically but don't recall the color scheme enough to make definitive statements. I've done my best to match the captures with the UK but I may be off a frame or two on some of them. The 2.40:1 aspect ratio Criterion seems marginally cropped on the sides and top edge but the AVC Video transfer is advertised as being '...new, restored digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Harris Savides' and as it is also more robust, and appears sharper, than the UK edition I would think this is the most accurate to the intended look of the film. It gave me a great presentation - I loved watching this richer, crisper The Game.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio track is quite strong - we get a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a buoyant 4195 kbps. Where I might not use the term 'crisp' it definitely had some depth and range. There is some nice music in the film including a beautiful segment with Debussy's "Clair De Lune" that sounds wonderfully clean. The original score is by Howard Shore and it blends in nicely with the action and suspense of the film. This audio rendering is certainly above-average - it can be downright impressive at times. There are subtitle and DUB options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Audio is wonderful offering the original theatrical 5.1 surround soundtrack via a DTS-HD Master at 4312 kbps plus we have a second option of an alternate 5.1 surround mix optimized for home theater viewing, supervised by sound designer Ren Klyce and presented in a similarly robust DTS-HD Master at 4140 kbps. There are differences and the alt-track sound very cool with crisp separations. Howard Shore's score sounds excellent via uncompressed. There are optional English subtitles on Criterion's region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.
There are no supplements - which is a shame because the film certainly deserves some discussion. Some fans really wanted this film on Blu-ray so I expect better available with no extras than not released at all. A Fincher commentary would have been sweet though.
This is where Criterion really vault further ahead.We get the audio commentary by director David Fincher, Savides, actor Michael Douglas, screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, digital animation supervisor Richard “Dr.” Baily, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft, and visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug from the 1997 Criterion Laserdisc. It still has value in discussing the production details. There is an hour’s worth of exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and film-to-storyboard comparisons for four of the film’s major set pieces, (Dog Chase, the Taxi, Christine's House, The Fall) with commentary. We get the 1-minute-11second alternate ending, plus a Psychological Test Film that CRS uses in The Game to test Nicholas's tolerance for violence and stimulating image of which only a portion are seen in the film. There is a trailer (2:26) and teaser (1:34), teaser Render Test (:59) with commentary plus the package has a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt.
Universal Home Video (UK) - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Criterion, with their additional commentary, other extrasand zippy alt-track option make for the most complete release. We bow to the DoP regarding the visuals appearance and it looks again like we have the definitive digital release for Fincher's wild ride in The Game. An easy recommendation - buy with confidence.
November 3rd, 2010
September 6th, 2012
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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