Seven Pounds Blu-ray Review
PicturePresented correctly at 2.35:1 using the Sony preferred MPEG-4 codec Seven Pounds looks good but has a stylistic vision that some people might not quite enjoy. The contrast runs a little hot most of the time, with whites blooming a little especially on some close up facial shots. At times this detracts from the fine detail that can be seen but isn't so hot that all detail is completely removed. There doesn't seem to be any DNR application removing detail further and that's good to see. Skin and pore definition is up there with the rest when the contrast is toned down a little.
There are some excellent scenes revealing hidden depths, the neighbour's garden for instance probably being the best of these, with her shrubs and flowers positively jumping off the screen. These scenes seems to have the best colour fidelity too, with rich reds and lush greens certainly adding some weight and depth to the proceedings. There does appear to be a slight yellow push on the frame as a whole, especially the skin tones. This is more than likely a stylistic choice and whilst initially a little distracting it quickly becomes the norm and you really don't worry about it after that.
Blacks are well represented with some good shadow detail more than apparent in the late diner as Ben sits watching Ezra, Emily's outdoor printing studio and the night-time visits to the hospital. The print is in superb shape, as is to be expected, and a subtle veneer of grain is apparent throughout the film which deepens a little during the ice hockey match.
A good presentation which at first may seem a little off kilter due to some of the stylistic choices made. As a transfer though it's very good indeed with no digital artefacts creeping in at all.
SoundThe English Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track on offer here really is overkill for what is needed. I think I counted on the fingers of one hand any ambiance coming from the surround speakers. When that does creep in though it's a little distracting as everything else has been up front. Nevertheless that ambiance comes from wind whistling through trees, the small chirps of birds and at one point an unseen helicopter in the distance... that one really did have me guessing.
Apart from that expect everything to come from the frontal array. That array seems rather narrow most of the time as the action, mainly vocal, emanates from the centre channel. However the stage widens somewhat when the backing score or individual music tracks are played. That score, by Angelo Milli, reminded me at times of the piano work in American Beauty and comes across as well structured and defined.
The range is excellent, from some of the lower hushed tones softly spoken in hospitals to the cries of delight as a moonlit dinner is held on the girlfriend's porch. It's rare for any LFE to kick in but there are some excellent lower tones in some of the background musical numbers. Ultimately this is all about dialogue though and that comes across precisely from your centre channel. Never over the top and usually softly spoken, the speech is still well defined and crystal clear.
So, not a bombastic track by any stretch of the imagination but still a track which does exactly what it states on the tin.
- Commentary with Director Gabriele Muccino.
A somewhat dry, technical and ultimately boring track that covers the scenes one by one in a very formulaic way. Interesting if you really enjoy your commentaries but for me it was just a little too bland really.
- Seven Views on Seven Pounds. - 0:31:25 - 1080p/MOEG-4
As the name suggests seven different views on this film and the making of this film. The sections are divided into The Writer, The Producers, The Director, The Location Manager, The Designer, The Editor and The Composer; there is a Play All function. This is an interesting short, too short in all honesty, which gives a brief insight into how these people started their individual projects, what attracted them to the piece, the characters, and the process which brought this to our big and small screens. Definitely worth a look.
- Creating the Perfect Ensemble. - 0:12:56 - 1080p/MPEG-4
Casting director, Denise Chamain ( who has cast for such features as Saving Private Ryan, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) ) having her say on how she pulled together the people she thought would be perfect for this piece. Muccino, Nieporte, Smith and Dawson also have their say. The main characters are discussed and the actors who play those parts are allowed their input. Interesting enough but not a deal breaker.
- The Box Jellyfish: World's Deadliest Co-Star. - 0:04:58 - 1080p/MPEG-4
Mike Schaadt, director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, discussing the box jellyfish, why they are called such, where they can be found, how lifeguards protect themselves from the stings and how the venom in the jellyfish's stingers reacts. This is a good enough introduction to the deadly box jellyfish but obviously nowhere near as informative as something from National Geographic.
- Emily's Passion: The Art of the Printing Press. - 0:08:44 - 1080p/MPEG-4
Mark Barbour, Director and Curator of The International Printing Museum, Carson, California takes us through a history of the printing press, the earliest models from 1806 to the 1886 Linotype Typecasting Machine where interestingly enough we get the phrase 'Hot Metal' to the 1955 Heidelberg Windmill. Like the earlier jellyfish feature this is more than interesting but just a little too short. Certainly worth a look though.
- Deleted Scenes. - 0:04:04 - 1080p/MPEG-4
4 deleted scenes in total with a Play All function. This is the usual run of the mill for those items which hit the cutting room floor. None of the cuts here add anything to the movie and deserve their final resting place on that dusty floor.
- Trailers. 1080p/MPEG-4
Trailers for Angels & Demons, Rachel Getting Married, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Not Easily Broken, Hancock and The Pursuit of Happyness.
Connected OK then once connected immediately decided I was disconnected even though my wireless bridge indicated I had net access. When it asked me if I wanted to go back to the main menu I pressed the YES button rather quickly. Yet another BD-Live waste of my time. Seriously has anyone actually ever used this and found it worthwhile?
A good enough set of extras if somewhat lacking in certain areas. The commentary is a little dry but does what it needs to. I always enjoy extras which tend to go off on a tangent and explore other areas of the film; in this case the jellyfish and printing press. These perhaps give you some brief insight into things you might never have even bothered about before and might just get you investigating them in more detail. Ideally those two should have been a little longer, but what we have is a good enough taster. For a rich ensemble piece it was important to have a section on casting and the Seven Views was an interesting slant, so I can't really complain. All presented in HD which is always good to see.
VerdictWill Smith needs to try his hand with some different characters and I was hoping to see him attempting such here. Although he does try this to some small degree it's still a little of a let down on his part. Expanding one's envelop can be a little daunting as Tom Hanks found in Road to Perdition, and I think that Smith might be following a similar route if he doesn't get some other material under his belt rather quickly. Too much of the nice guy, go and explore your dark side!
The video and audio are nothing to write home about yet neither do they let the technical quality of this disc down at all. All audio tracks use the newer HD codecs and I was pleased to see this coming through so now our European cousins don't miss out. The extras are OK but could have been better. The disc as a whole then is a hit or miss affair, nothing of any real substance in there to keep you entertained even if you don't find the film to your liking.
On the whole though I can honestly say that faults taken on board I enjoyed Seven Pounds for what it is; nothing more nothing less. I can't really recommend a purchase on this one unless you really are Will Smith daft but I can definitely advise giving it a rental at some point.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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- Commentary with Director Gabriele Muccino.