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Academy Award nominee Will Smith stars in this drama, re-teaming with the director and producers of The Pursuit of Happyness for the emotional story of a man who will change the lives of seven strangers.
For more about Seven Pounds and the Seven Pounds Blu-ray release, see Seven Pounds Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on March 29, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Will Smith (I), Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Barry Pepper, Elpidia Carrillo
Director: Gabriele Muccino
» See full cast & crew
Seven Pounds Blu-ray Review
While the production values are often dazzling, coming alive in 1080p, the story and substance is lacking in Will Smith's latest drama.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, March 29, 2009
The ubiquitous Will Smith again teams up with The Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino, but this time the plot doesn't work and the results are indisputably dull. The best thing about Seven Pounds is the fantastic cinematography by director of photography Philippe Le Sourde. His stylized shots, framed with the touch of an artist, feature interesting compositions and color palettes. Coupled with the solid 1080p transfer, the picture quality is the highpoint of Seven Pounds. The audio isn't bad either. But the acting and story are quite dreadful and make use of telegraphed plot and cinematic devices to try to hold the audience's attention. Muccino even attempts to deliver a surprise payoff at the end, which everyone will see coming from the beginning. Nice try, but Seven Pounds is lightweight by any scale and Will Smith's presence does nothing to change that.
As Seven Pounds begins, we see that Will Smith's character Ben Thomas--or is it Tim Thomas--is clearly suicidal. We learn he has donated various organs to people in medical conditions that require important transplants. He gives part of his lung to his brother (Michael Early), part of his liver to a child services worker, Holly (Judyann Elder), donates bone marrow to a boy, Nicholas (Quintin Kelley) and a kidney to hockey coach George (Bill Smitrovich). Thomas keeps an unusual pet in his hotel room: a deadly, venomous jellyfish. He is identifying two last patients who need his eyes and heart. Gee, you kind of need those organs to live, don't you Mr. Thomas? Whatever could you be planning? Anyone who hasn't figured it out fairly early in the film may need a brain transplant.
If there is good news in any of this, it's that the heart disease victim is a real beauty, even when made up to look pale and sickly. Literally glowing on screen is Rosario Dawson who plays Emily Posa, a self-employed greeting card printer. Her heart condition and rare blood type allow Thomas to track her down. He spends time with her, visits her home, weeds her garden and fixes her printer. He begins to fall in love with her and decides that as her condition has worsened he needs to make his donation. As the narrative lines draw to a foreseeable conclusion, Thomas' brother appears and pushes the lines even faster toward the inevitable, telegraphed conclusion.
Seven Pounds Blu-ray, Video Quality
The video is the highpoint of the film and of the blu-ray. It has a good balance of contrast, color, clarity and composition. Black levels are deep and there is supple film grain visible, which makes me feel like I am in a theater with a projector rather than spinning an optical disc. Watch the scene after Thomas' dinner with Posa. After the dance sequence, an artful still life is pictured in the dark showing the two wine glasses on the table. It is gorgeously filmed and framed with the window in the background, revealing good grayscale depth and delineation, as well as stunning detail and contrast. Overall, the solid MPEG-4 encode contributes to the good definition.
As with many modern films, the colors vary in saturation and intensity. In the case of Seven Pounds, the yellows and blues seem artificially pumped up, which makes for a somewhat clinical look. Skin color appears cold, but finely textured. It isn't the most naturl color palette, but no matter. Even when skin tones or earth tones appear unnatural, I am continually impressed by cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd's sense of composition. Even when more than half the screen is taken up by the back of an actor's head and the main subject of the scene has only a small piece of the frame, the effect is visually pleasing. Likewise when Thomas and the dog are playing in the field with Posa watching, the colors are unnatural, but the symmetry and balance of elements in the composition is disarming. The depth and detail only help.
Seven Pounds Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 24-bit 48-kHz Dolby TrueHD track is impressive, but I still miss the days when Sony was delivering PCM tracks. The film's score by Angelo Milli is lush, whether spotlighting massed strings or the piano, and the non-orchestral music is spot-on as well. These songs include Feeling Good, One of These Things First, I Don't Know, Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be), How Insensitive and I'm into Something Good. Guitars and vocals feature rich and detailed midrange, and extended highs that allow the drums and other percussive sounds to appear natural. The instrumentation and dialog has good presence over the entire dynamic range. Rear channels are used only for outdoor sequences, resulting in good presence for ambient sounds. But overall, the track is heavily weighted toward the center, as one would expect for a non-action drama such as Seven Pounds. The dialog is balanced well with the score and other elements of the mix.
Seven Pounds Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The first thing you'll notice after pealing the shrinkwrap off the Blu-ray case and opening Seven Pounds is the inclusion of a second disc for a bonus digital copy. Sony is following the lead of other studios, but its promo card in the Blu-ray packaging encourages customers to "enjoy your digital copy for PSP, PC, Mac or iPod, complete with a quick start guide and unlock code. Not only is the digital copy becoming routine for new films released on Blu-ray, but the rest of the bonus content is routine as well, with the ever-present self-promotional documentaries, albeit in high definition. The supplements include the following:
Audio Commentary--The alternate audio track features director Gabriele Muccino, who delivers a sober, straightlaced commentary to go along with his follow up to The Pursuit of Happyness. There is some technical discussion and heavy praise for Will Smith
Creating the Perfect Ensemble--A fifteen minute documentary on casting. It features the lovely Rosario Dawson and of course Smith, along with Woody Harrelson and other costars.
Seven Views on Seven Pounds--This half-hour documentary features interviews with the director, the screenwriter, the producers, the location manager, the designer, the editor and the composer--the so-called seven views. If some of them had gone into the project noting its fundamental flaws in giving away the ending at the beginning, maybe a better movie could have been created.
The Box Jellyfish: World's Deadliest Co-Star--Having studied invertebrate zoology with the intention to be a marine biologist, I found this five-minute documentary to be the most entertaining of all. Coelenterates are fascinating creatures and the nematocysts or stinging cells of jellyfish and anenomes have a captivating, harpoon-like design used to inject poison. The life cycles of such coelenterates are also intriguing, although this short supplement is very light on the details.
Emily's Passion: The Art of the Printing Press--A ten-minute featurette focused on of all things a printing press such as the rare Heidelberg printer used by Dawson's character. For this level of detail, the documentary takes us to the International Printing Museum. If you're as interested in printers as I am in marine life, you may enjoy this a great deal.
Rounding out the supplementary content is four minutes worth of deleted scenes. Once you take a gander, there will be no great surprise why it was left on the cutting room floor.
Seven Pounds Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Will Smith has been on a tear of leading in movies of late--even for his busy schedule. Like many of his attempts at serious roles, Seven Pounds falls flat for me, but it's not Smith's fault. The story and its execution is doomed from the start, and the excessive heavy-handedness of it and amateur handling of the narrative really kills any chance of enjoyment. I hope filmmakers take note of Dawson and make her a part of more promising projects because she is potentially an Oscar-caliber actress who is beautiful and has range and depth. She seems to be the real deal. Also on the plus side, the video and audio are enjoyable, but Blu-ray is about movies, not just excellent picture and sound. I can barely muster a recommendation for a rental to Will Smith fans in the mood for a heavy drama with a lightweight delivery.
Seven Pounds Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Seven Pounds Coming this March - January 5, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Will Smith drama 'Seven Pounds' to Blu-ray on March 17th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Sony has put this film on the fast track to home video being that it was released in theaters only ...
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