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The Game [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Near Field and Theatrical English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray )
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 128 Mins.
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 18, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

David Fincher’s (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) 1997 psycho-drama, The Game, had the misfortune of being wedged between two of his higher profile films, Seven (1995) and Fight Club (1999). Like both of its counterparts, however, The Game is steeped in classic Fincher mannerisms. It is slickly directed neo-noir drama that elevates what could be a mundane script into an enticing and energetic journey through post-MTV 90s chic.

Michael Douglas plays Nicholas Van Orton, a wealthy investment banker who, on his 48th birthday, is given a mysterious gift by his brother Conrad (played effectively by Sean Penn). The certificate to a place called CRS (Consumer Recreation Services), turns out to be a nightmare. Nicholas signs up for the service that promises to give him a life altering game, but it slowly strips his life away. Nicholas, whose money, power, and sanity are taken from him, turns to a waitress he met at his favorite eatery for answers, Christine (Deborah Kara Unger), but is she part of “the game” as well?

So as not to risk spoiling the twists and revelations that are a part of what make The Game an ultimately satisfying film, I’ll only say that, while The Game was evidence of Fincher’s power as a director to eek out the most thrilling scenarios from some of the most slow burning action you may ever come across this side of Appaloosa, the film will leave some things a little unanswered, such as how exactly CRS manages to nudge so many scenarios into play, especially a spectacular ending that involves a fall from a building and crash through a glass ceiling.

(For a different take, read our The Game [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review by Lawrence Devoe)

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Game was filmed on Super 35 Kodak Vision 320T 5277 and Vision 500T 5279 film, with some brief interludes filmed on 16mm Kodak Ektachrome VNF 125T 7240. It arrives in this Criterion Collection edition looking absolutely miraculous for a film that was released 15-years ago. While the blacks may not look quite as clean and inky as a film from today, they still hold a remarkable amount of depth with just the right amount of natural grain apparent. Shadow detail in this moody, shadowy film is rather extended with no signs of crush and detail is strong throughout in clothing and on skin.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

An option to view the film with the theatrical 5.1 mix or a near field 5.1 mix, both offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), is provided. The differences are slight, but to my ears, the near field mix, which most likely has been optimized for home theatres, sounds a little fuller, whereas things seem to be pushed back a tad in the theatrical mix. Either way, you get a splendid amount of atmospherics, right/left panning, and strong dynamic range with subtle, but just enough low frequencies to give the mix some heft.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

As per the usual modus operandi for the Criterion Collection, The Game has been packed to the brim with interesting and relevant supplementary materials, including an alternate ending and audio commentaries for the film, and even the trailers.

The supplements:

  • Audio Commentary recorded by the Criterion Collection in 1997, features director David Fincher, actor Michael Douglas, screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, director of photography Harris Savides, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft, and visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug.
  • Alternate Ending (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:11)
  • Film-to-Storyboard Comparisons (1080p/24) – These film-to-storyboard comparisons look at four of The Game’s major set pieces.:
    • Dog Chase
    • The Taxi
    • Christine’s House
    • The Fall
  • Behind the Scenes (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i/60) – This behind-the-scenes footage was shot exclusively for the criterion Collection during the filming of four of The Game‘s major set pieces, as well as on various other locations. It features optional audio commentary by director David Fincher, actor Michael Douglas, director of photography Harris Savides, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft, and special effects supervisor Kevin Haug.:
    • Dog Chase
    • The Taxi
    • Christine’s House
    • The Fall
    • Location Footage
  • Psychological Test Film (1.33:1; up-scaled 1080i/60; 00:01:07) – Presented here is the film that CRS uses in The Game to test Nicholas Van Orton’s tolerance for violent and stimulating images, only portions of which are seen in the movie.
  • Teaser and Trailer – This teaser and teaser render test feature optional commentary by digital animation supervisor Richard “Dr.” Baily. The trailer features optional commentary by director David Fincher.;
    • Teaser (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
    • Teaser Render Test (1.33:1; upscaled 1080i/60)
    • Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Booklet: Features an essay by film critic David Sterritt.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The Game is classic David Fincher brought to Blu-ray in classic Criterion Collection quality. The film may not be quite as good as something like Fight Club or Dragon Tattoo, but it is definitely worth of reconsideration by anyone who may have overlooked it over the years due to the timing of its release.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Game [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

The Game

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Purchase The Game [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

The Game

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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1 COMMENT

  1. Glad to see Criterion give THE GAME the respect it deserves. Criterion released another Fincher film called SEVEN many years ago on an outstanding Laserdisc. They got the picture looking right. The DVDs and blu rays ever since have been compromised. Too bad Criterion didn’t release this on blu ray. They do Fincher films right!

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