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There are no rules in "The Game". And that will make life very difficult for Nicholas Van Orton, a successful businessman who is always in control. Van Orton lives a well-ordered life - until an unexpected birthday gift from his brother destroys it all. Like it or not, Nicholas has been enrolled in a game - "a profound life experience" that begins quietly but soon erupts in a rush of devastating events. Van Orton has to win this deadly game or lose control of everything in his life.
For more about The Game and the The Game Blu-ray release, see the The Game Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 18, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Carroll Baker, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Director: David Fincher
» See full cast & crew
The Game Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 18, 2010
David Fincher's "The Game" (1997) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios-UK. Unfortunately, there are no supplemental features to be found on this Blu-ray disc. In English, with optional English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Catalan, Dutch, and Traditional Chinese subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas, Black Rain, The War of the Roses) is a powerful investment banker who lives alone in a giant mansion somewhere in San Francisco. He is filthy rich and arrogant. He does not date and his best friend is his lawyer. He drives a big black BMW.
Nicholas' younger brother, Conrad (Sean Penn, Dead Man Walking, The Assassination of Richard Nixon), is a relaxed, casual guy who did not turn out the way his parents wanted him - or so it appears. He is not as successful as Nicholas and most certainly not as arrogant. The two also do not look alike.
Conrad visits Nicholas and announces that he has a special present for his 48th birthday - a game that will reinvigorate his life. All Conrad has to do is sign a contract with Consumer Recreation Services, a company he knows absolutely nothing about.
Intrigued by his brother's claim, Conrad decides to try the game. He visits the offices of Consumer Recreation Services, fills out an application, and undergoes a series of tests. Everything appears to be fine. Much to Conrad's surprise, however, a couple of days later he is informed that his application has been rejected.
Fastforward. A beautiful blond waitress, Christine (Deborah Kara Unger, Keys to Tulsa, Between Strangers), spills a drink on Conrad and his life spins out of control - a cab driver attempts to kill him, someone drains his millions from his private bank account in Switzerland, and a group of masked men open fire at him. At one point, he even wakes up in a coffin somewhere in Mexico.
The Game is my favorite David Fincher film. It is terrifically scripted, not as gloomy as Seven, not as politically ambitious as Fight Club, not as glitzy as Zodiac, and not as sentimental as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It sure isn't as geeky as The Social Network either. It is a pure, old-fashioned action thriller, the type Hollywood is no longer interested in making.
The Game is also the type of film you could truly enjoy only once. Once you've seen the ending, it is not the same. A second viewing could only reveal how good all of the actors in The Game are, how carefully everything has been put together. Another such magical film is Gela Babluani's 13 Tzameti.
Douglas carries the entire film on his shoulders. The range of different emotions he conveys is remarkable. Early on his character is an arrogant man who sees life as a series of deals that have to be made; he always has to be on top, regardless of the situation or circumstances, and there can be absolutely no compromises. But when he is suddenly placed in an environment where he is no longer in charge, he undergoes a remarkable character transformation. His view of the world and the people around him changes dramatically.
Unger and Penn are also outstanding. You could never quite tell whether they are with or against Douglas' character, which is the primary reason why The Game is indeed a never-ending guessing game.
Note: In 1998, The Game was nominated for Saturn Award for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film, which is granted annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
The Game Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with VC-1 and granted a 1080p transfer, David Fincher's The Game arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios-UK.
This is a dated and fairly inconsistent high-definition transfer. Portions of it, and specifically the daylight scenes, look fine - detail is decent, clarity adequate, and for the most part contrast levels acceptable. Unfortunately, the nighttime and indoor footage, which represents the bulk of the film, is problematic. First, there are various mild to strong compression artifacts that are extremely easy to spot. Second, background noise is rampant. It is not always consistent, but when it pops up, it is quite overwhelming. Third, traces of mild to moderate edge-enhancement could be seen throughout the entire film. Some noise filtering has also been applied. Finally, I noticed numerous tiny flecks popping up, which I am fairly certain will annoy a good number of viewers. All in all, from all of the catalog Blu-ray titles Universal Films-UK have released recently, The Game is clearly the most inconsistent one. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu. Please note that the main menu can be set in one of the following languages: English, French, German, Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, or Traditional Chinese).
The Game Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are seven audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Catalan DTS 5.1, Portuguese DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, and Russian DTS 5.1. For the record, Universal Studios-UK have provided optional English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Catalan, Dutch, and Traditional Chinese subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside in the image frame.
I don't have any major complaints about the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The bass is potent and punchy, the rear channels active and effective, and the high-frequencies not overdone. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. Howard Shore's music score is not prominent, but it is nevertheless well treated by the loseless audio track; there are no balances issues with it. Lastly, while viewing The Game I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review.
The Game Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Most unfortunately, there are absolutely no supplemental features to be found on this Blu-ray disc whatsoever.
The Game Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If Criterion do end up bringing David Fincher's The Game to Blu-ray in the United States, I have to speculate that their release would likely turn out to be vastly superior to this Pan-European release courtesy of Universal Studios-UK. There are simply a number of issues with it, which I believe Criterion will effectively address. You can consider buying this release if it is available at a bargain price, but my recommendation is to RENT IT, and use your money to buy one of the many other quality Blu-ray releases that have appeared on the UK market this Fall.
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