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Seven Pounds (2008)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/31/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/2/2009

I don't know if he's officially been given this nickname, but Will Smith should be known as Hollywood's "Mr. $100 Million Dollars". That's because, prior to the Fall of 2008, one had to go back to 2001's Ali to find a Will Smith film which didn't gross over $100 million at the box office in the U.S. Yes, even questionable movies like Hancock (great first half, awful second half) raked in the dough. However, this streak came to an end with the release of Seven Pounds in December, 2008. Despite the fact that Smith really pushed the film, it didn't come close to the $100 million mark. Logic would dictate that there must be something very wrong with this movie.

Smith stars in Seven Pounds as Ben Thomas, an IRS agent who travels around the Los Angeles area performing audits. However, Ben seems to take an unusually keen interest in his clients and this creates some strange behavior. For example, he approaches Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson) while she's in the hospital recovering from her most recent complications brought on by heart disease. He visits Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo) to discuss her taxes, but then he only wants to talk to her about her violent boyfriend. When Ben isn't doing this, we see him doing other odd things, such as harassing a blind telemarketer (Woody Harrelson) or moving himself and his pet jellyfish (?!) from his house into a seedy motel. Despite the fact that Ben is warm and charming, he doesn't like to talk about himself. As the story progresses, we begin to learn that Ben is hiding a dark secret and that he has plans for all of the people whom he has contacted.

I hated to have to be so cryptic in my synopsis, but Seven Pounds is one of those films which relies on plot twists and secrets, and to give them away would have spoiled everything. And to its credit, the movie does contain an interesting plot. If I were to simply state the plot, you wouldn't necessarily find it to be an original idea, but it's certainly an interesting one, and one which could have made a good movie. The main ideas would have been both thought-provoking and emotional.

However, the bulk of the film is story, and the actual plot doesn't arrive until the very end. The screenplay by Grant Nieporte shuffles along for nearly two hours giving us very miniscule tidbits as to what Ben is doing. And then suddenly, in the last ten minutes, we learn everything. This is meant to be a sudden emotional rush, but it just doesn't work. For one thing, astute viewers will have already figured out most of what is happening. Director Gabriele Muccino is less than subtle with his visual clues and much is given away. Secondly, the gamble of saving everything until the end doesn't pay off emotionally. If we had known early on what Ben was planning, then his relationship with Emily could have been truly gut-wrenching, as we would have watched him struggle with an incredibly tough decision. Instead, we are treated to a whole lot of nothing. Much of Seven Pounds is composed of static moments where Ben is staring off into space or into the camera. This is meant to be tension and mystery, but instead, it simply prolongs the boredom.

So, an obvious question here is, why would Will Smith endanger his winning streak with a movie like this? Again, I'm sure that when the main premise was presented, Seven Pounds sounded like a winner. The problem is in the execution. We go from asking "Why is he acting like that?" to "What am I still watching this?"

Seven Pounds weighs in on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a very subtle touch of grain and no defects from the source material. The movie has an intentionally subdued palette, but the colors still look fine and the image is never overly dark. The picture has a nice amount of depth and the amount of detail is impressive as well. The Disc holds a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Overall, this is a quiet film, so we don't get a lot of dynamic audio effects here. The stereo effects are effective and show nice separation. There are a few key scenes, such as the finale, where the surround sound and subwoofer really help to add to the emotion involved.

The Seven Pounds Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Gabriele Muccino. "Seven Views on Seven Pounds" is seven segments where we hear from Writer Grant Nieporte, Producers Jason Blumenthal, Todd Black, James Lassiter, & Steve Tische, Director Gabriele Muccino, Location Manager Kei Rowan-Young, Production Designer J. Michael Riva, Editor Hughes Winborne, and Composer Angelo Milli who describe how they got involved with the project and their views on the film. In "Creating the Perfect Ensemble" (13 minutes), Casting Director Denise Chaiman discuss the challenge of casting a movie like this. We then get a look at each of the main actors and their characters. "The Box Jellyfish: World's Deadliest Co-Star" (5 minutes) is a mini-documentary which describes the animal. "Emily's Passion: The Art of the Printing Press" (9 minutes) is exactly what it sounds like, as we get a history lesson printing presses. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes, and are all very incidental.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long