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The Game

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Criterion's Blu-ray of 'The Game' shines with a superb Fincher-supervised transfer, enriching extras, and captivating audio. A must-have.

    The Game Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Criterion's Blu-ray release of 'The Game' enhances clarity, color, and stability with a superior transfer, respecting Fincher's and Savides' vision, devoid of compression flaws.

  • Audio
  • This Blu-ray features a dynamic original 5.1 theatrical mix and a tailored near field mix for intimate settings, both in DTS-HD MA, ensuring clear, immersive audio experiences for any environment.

  • Extra
  • Criterion's release includes detailed special features and commentary for 'The Game,' exploring its production, challenges, and creative choices in 1080p HD.

  • Movie
  • Criterion's Blu-ray release of 'The Game' is packed with extras and an essay, while the film itself offers a thrilling, metafictional journey of manipulation and control, masterfully led by Fincher and a stellar cast.

    Video: 73

    David Fincher's "The Game" has been accorded an impressive Blu-ray release by Criterion, presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and encoded with MPEG-4 AVC for a 1080p transfer. This version stands out significantly, especially when compared to earlier editions including the UK market release by Universal Studios. Under the supervision of director of photography Harris Savides and director David Fincher himself, the transfer emerges from a meticulous 2K resolution digital process on a Northlight film scanner utilizing the original camera negatives. Efforts were made to ensure the highest fidelity to the source, with modern technology applied to cleanse and stabilize the imagery, resulting in a presentation that retains a natural grain structure without succumbing to common issues like banding or aliasing.

    The technical care in this release translates to a viewing experience marked by enhanced clarity, superior color reproduction, and noteworthy detail and shadow definition. Despite the film's deliberately soft and murky aesthetic—consistent with Fincher's vision and Savides' preference for naturalistic lighting—the Blu-ray manages to preserve and even enhance its noirish tones and mood. Colors, though often draped in cool blues or unsettling yellows, are richly saturated, contributing to the thematic depth intended by its creators. Criterion's handling of the compression greatly benefits large-screen projections, drawing out an improved image depth and striking an optimal balance between authenticity and contemporary viewing standards.

    Moreover, the specific restoration efforts, as detailed in the accompanying booklet, highlight significant removal of physical defects from the film medium, showcasing a commitment to both technological precision and artistic integrity. The resulting image possesses a balanced contrast with deep blacks that accentuate nighttime scenes’ realism, adhering to Fincher and Savides’ artistic choices. For fans of "The Game" and cinephiles appreciating technical excellence in film restoration, this Blu-ray edition is a testament to the meticulous craft of modern digital transfers, ensuring that the film’s unique visual style is both preserved and celebrated.

    Audio: 76

    The Criterion Blu-ray of "The Game" offers a dual audio experience, providing both the original Theatrical 5.1 Mix and a Near Field 5.1 Mix, each mastered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The theatrical mix is derived from the 35mm magnetic X-copy master, boasting a dynamic range intended for large rooms and high volumes. In contrast, the near field mix originated from Sony Dash 3348 digital tapes, tailored for smaller spaces with its reduced dynamic range but heightened surround sound movement and elevated dynamic levels. Both mixes have meticulously been remastered at 24-bit with Pro Tools HD, ensuring pristine audio quality for enthusiasts and purists alike.

    The auditory variances between the two mixes are pronounced and cater to distinct viewing environments. The theatrical mix preserves the film's original atmospheric essence, enveloping the viewer in a dense cloak of mystery and paranoia with its wide dynamic range and effective spatial distribution, particularly in action sequences and ambient city sounds. The near field mix, on the other hand, accentuates dialogue clarity and offers a more pronounced balance in mid-range frequencies, making Howard Shore's score—which encompasses a haunting interplay between piano and heavy strings—shine through with slightly greater prominence. Designed for intimate settings, it presents an amplified experience without sacrificing detail to the nuances of the film's engaging soundscape.

    Both audio tracks exemplify Criterion's commitment to high-fidelity restoration, showcasing clear, stable dialogue, and a lack of any auditory imperfections such as pops or dropouts. While the theatrical mix is recommended for those seeking to replicate the expansive cinema soundscape at home, the near field mix serves as an excellent alternative for viewers in more confined spaces, offering a louder overall output with decreased dynamic range yet without compromising the film's immersive auditory experience.

    Extra: 68

    The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray extras for "The Game" are a comprehensive suite that dives deep into the filmmaking process behind this psychological thriller. David Fincher's directorial choices are extensively explored through an engaging audio commentary featuring contributions from the cast and crew, providing listeners with a detailed account of the movie's production, from script adjustments to visual effects. The inclusion of original marketing materials like the film's trailer and teaser, both enhanced with insightful commentaries, offer a rare peek into the strategic considerations behind promoting such a unique film. Alternate ending footage, storyboard comparisons, and behind-the-scenes featurettes further enrich the viewing experience, allowing fans to appreciate the meticulous effort applied to every aspect of the film's creation. The psychological test film adds an intriguing layer of depth, showcasing the innovative methods used to flesh out the narrative. Each extra, presented in high definition, complements the main feature by revealing the intricate layers of storytelling and technical artistry that define Fincher's cinematic vision.

    Extras included in this disc:

    TRAILER: Original trailer with optional director commentary.

    TEASER: Features digital animation supervisor's commentary on its creation.

    TEASER RENDER TEST: Additional insights into the teaser's digital effects.

    ALTERNATE ENDING: A brief look at what could have been.

    FILM-TO-STORYBOARDS COMPARISONS: Side-by-side views of storyboard and final film for key scenes.

    BEHIND THE SCENES: In-depth footage from several major scenes with optional commentary.

    PSYCHOLOGICAL TEST FILM: The CRS psychological assessment reel used in the narrative.

    AUDIO COMMENTARY: An ensemble track with director, cast, and crew detailing the film's production.

    BOOKLET: Contains an essay providing critical analysis and context.

    Movie: 71

    David Fincher's 1997 thriller, "The Game," presented by Criterion on Blu-ray, captivates with its rich narrative and complex character portrayals, further amplified by a sterling cast led by Michael Douglas. The release is featured in English, with optional English SDH subtitles, ensuring wider accessibility. It encapsulates Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas), a wealthy, yet emotionally distant investment banker whose mundane life is drastically transformed by an enigmatic game introduced by his brother Conrad (Sean Penn). Filled with suspense and intrigue, the film delves deep into themes of control, manipulation, and the blurring lines between reality and the cinematic world, making it a compelling watch.

    Fincher's direction crafts a meticulously plotted thriller that plays out like a cinematic puzzle. The narrative ingeniously intertwines Van Orton's reality with the mechanics of filmmaking itself, effectively using the medium to explore its themes. Accompanied by a rich selection of bonus features, including an insightful audio commentary that sheds light on Fincher's intention to blur the lines between the film's fiction and the reality of movie-making, this release offers a deep dive into the creative process behind this intriguing story. The commentary, bringing together Fincher with Douglas and other key contributors, reveals the nuances of translating this complex story onto screen, enriching the viewing experience.

    The technical execution of "The Game" further enhances its storytelling with Fincher's characteristic visual flair. Employing wide shots and strategic camera movements, the film creates an unsettling atmosphere that mirrors Van Orton's spiraling paranoia. This visually compelling approach, combined with Douglas’s evocative performance and Fincher’s tight direction, elevates the narrative’s suspenseful elements while maintaining a critical lens on the nature of manipulation. Criterion’s release not only celebrates "The Game" as a standout thriller but also as a film that challenges viewers by merging its plot intricacies with the art of cinema itself, ultimately reflecting on the transformative power of storytelling.

    Total: 73

    Criterion's release of "The Game" on Blu-ray marks a pivotal moment for fans who have patiently awaited a high-definition presentation worthy of David Fincher's complex psychological thriller. Masterfully restored under the keen supervision of Fincher and cinematographer Harris Savides, this edition showcases a visually stunning high-definition transfer that breathes new life into the movie's intricate narrative and darkly atmospheric aesthetics. Complementing the visual upgrade, a new surround mix has been thoughtfully optimized for home viewing, ensuring that the film's moody audio landscape is as immersive as its visual counterpart. The inclusion of the original 1997 audio commentary adds a valuable layer of insight, elevating the overall package.

    Notorious for its disorienting narrative and metafictional twists, "The Game" is reinvigorated through Criterion’s meticulous attention to preserving its cinematic essence. Previous attempts at high-definition releases left much to be desired, making this iteration a significant improvement that respects the source material while enhancing viewer experience. Alongside its superior video and audio enhancements, Criterion has enriched this release with a compelling array of supplements. These include an insightful commentary track and intriguing behind-the-scenes footage, allowing for a deeper appreciation of the film’s intricate layers and its commentary on cinematic manipulation.

    In conclusion, Criterion’s Blu-ray release of "The Game" stands as the definitive edition for both longtime admirers and newcomers. Through its exceptional high-definition transfer, refined audio options, and thoughtfully curated extras, this release not only honors the film’s original vision but also secures its place as an increasingly relevant piece of cinema history. Highly recommended, this Blu-ray proves to be an indispensable addition to any film aficionado’s collection, offering a comprehensive experience that enhances every aspect of the movie's enigmatic allure.