The Game is one of two David Fincher films in the Criterion Collection (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). The Game was originally released in 1997, as Fincher was coming off of the debacle that was Alien 3 and the thrilling Se7en. September 21, 2012 marked the Blu-Ray/DVD release for The Game (Spine #627), which was previously released on Laserdisc (Spine #365).
A wealthy investment banker, Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) receives a gift from his brother Conrad Van Orton (Sean Penn). The gift: A coupon to a game that, if he agrees to play, could change his life.
When it comes to David Fincher, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has not seen and fallen in love with at least one of his films. He is a master of suspense and maintaining the viewer’s attention. Upon my first viewing of The Game, I was confused, distraught, and had no clue what the hell was going on. Not to mention, the first time I saw him find the clown doll in his driveway is one of the creepiest instances I’ve ever witnessed in a film, ever. But, this is a film that strengthens through multiple viewings. Even when we know what is coming, the suspense is still there. This is the definition of a great screenplay and not a line of this script is wasted on useless plot ideas. Every instant of screen time offers substance. As I stated before, Fincher manipulates the viewer by telling us the plan, exactly: Nicholas Van Orton is going to play a game, and it is going to make his life better. Michael Douglas’ performance as Nicholas Van Orton might end up being the best performance of his career. From the moment he reaches CRS, his frantic nature sets in. And his interactions with Christine (Deborah Kara Unger) are heartfelt and real. To bring it all together, the ending of this film was shattering and will stand as one of my favorite endings of all time. Fincher tempted his dark side with Se7en and continued burrowing deeper with The Game.
Behind the Scenes
In terms of supplements, I firmly believe that this release will rival the best for proving useful for aspiring filmmakers like myself. As the crew worked on the film’s four main set pieces: Dog Chase, The Taxi, Christine’s House, and The Fall, the process of crafting each scene was filmed. The “Dog Chase” scene gives insight into quick cuts, “The Taxi” on close-proximity action scenes, “Christine’s house” is a lesson on functional repetitiveness, and “The Fall” gives a look in on how sophisticated one simple scene can be.
Again, the supplements for this release is tough to beat. Along with the behind the scene looks at the four main set pieces, there is also presented dialogue with film to storyboard comparison. The film is viewable with 3 different audio options: Theatrical 5.1 mix (skip if you are focusing on dialogue), Near Field 5.1 mix, and Commentary. Who doesn’t want to listen to David Fincher break down one of his films? Com’ onnnn. To round out the supplements there is an interesting alternate ending, location footage, the teaser and actual trailer, and the full psychological film test from the story, which is very uncomfortable to watch.
The Game is a damn good Fincher film. He is a master of suspense and knows how to appeal to his audience. The supplements rival some of the best I have seen, though I’ve seen each at least ten times. If you are an aspiring filmmaker, this is a great purchase, as the supplements are a genuine look at what it takes to make an elaborate film. So, this is for sure worth look.
Criterion Grade: A
Film Grade: A-