DVD Review: Seven Pounds

Hey all…

When the movie Seven Pounds was released to theaters in December 2008, I was intrigued by the premise and Will Smith (who in my opinion has come a long way as an actor since his Fresh Prince of Bel-aire days). But it never really hit me as a Christmas movie. Neither did Marley & Me which was released about the same time or The Alamo which came out around Christmas in 2004… So we never got to the theater to see it. (We did see Marley & Me, but that was more because my wife’s a veterinarian than anything else.)

Rating: ★★★½

So when I heard Seven Pounds was being released on DVD, I knew I needed to see it. It looked like a powerful story and didn’t disappoint.

The story revolves around Ben Thomas (Will Smith), an IRS agent who seems to be behaving oddly. The stereotypical IRS agent is someone who relies on facts and figures, not feelings and heart. Ben did his homework, but relied on how he felt about particular people to render judgments. Through the course of the film, we see Ben find seven different people who deserved to have their lives changed. But he didn’t plan on falling in love with one of the seven. Would that derail his plans? Would he change his mind?

Acting alongside Smith in the movie are several other great actors. But the trio of Smith’s Ben, Rosario Dawson‘s Emily, and Woody Harrelson’s Ezra really hold the center of the movie together.

Is this a love story? Yes, but not quite in the way you might think. Is it a drama? Definitely. Is it a thriller? Yes and no. There are aspects of other thrillers, such as waiting for the big reveal until the last third of the movie. But you get the sense from the very beginning that there’s something inherently sad or broken about Ben and that he’s trying to do something about that.

I’ve seen negative reviews about Seven Pounds on other parts of the web. Rotten Tomatoes only gave it 28%. ScreenRant gave it 3 out of 5. And Entertainment Weekly gave it a D calling it an “unintentionally ludicrous drama of repentance.”

I watched it with my wife and we both loved the story. A powerful, romantic movie of redeeming one’s self in the face of unimaginable sorrow. Like all movies, you take from them what you will. We give it a solid 3.5 out of 4.¬†

In addition to the movie itself, the DVD includes numerous extras.

“Seven Views on Seven Pounds” provides seven different perspectives on the movie, from the director and the writer, to the producers involved, designers, editors, and so on. Each person brings something different to the table. What was most telling for me was listening to how the writer, Grant Nieporte, came up with the idea after seeing someone at a party with the same deep sorrow that Ben experienced. This just proves once again that life presents opportunities for art if you keep your eye open.

“Creating the Perfect Ensemble” focused on Denise Chamian, Casting Director, talking about the challenges of bringing together the cast for this unique, emotional film. Finding actors to convey real emotions in a very short amount of time was tricky. Director Gabriele Muccino spoke about getting the relationship right between Emily and Ben’s characters. The efforts of Chamian and Muccino bring these characters to life on the screen.

“The Box Jellyfish: World’s Deadliest Co-star” describes just how deadly the Box Jellyfish actually is. It quietly sits in the background in a tank until you learn what Ben has planned for it. Mike Schaadt, the Director of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, speaks about the jellyfish and the challenges that it brings to the beaches of Northern Australia.

In “Emily’s Passion: The Art of the Printing Press,” we learn a little more about how Rosario prepared for the role as Emily. She went to the International Printing Museum in Carson, California, to explore the history of the printing press. You can find everything there from plates to movable type and beyond. This feature lets Mark Barbour, the Director and Curator of the museum, describe some of the many presses that can be seen in the museum. His passion for the printing process is easy to see.

There are four Deleted Scenes available, including “Ben Leaves Message for Dan,” “Dr. Gatsinaris Confronts Ben,” “Ben Gets Duke,” and “Ben Watches Ezra at the Mall #2.” The first two, I can definitely see why they cut. “Ben Gets Duke” would have added a bit of levity in the middle of a movie that could have used some lightening up in spots. And “Ben Watches Ezra at the Mall #2″ didn’t really add anything that the scene they left in didn’t already cover.

The previews on the DVD include a few for upcoming movies, including Angels & Demons and The Accidental Husband, a trailer for the DVD of Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway, of which Rosario Dawson was a cast member, and two trailers for DVDs of other Will Smith Movies – Hancock and The Pursuit of Happyness.

If you didn’t get a chance to see Seven Pounds at the theater, I highly recommend that you take some time and watch it to form your own opinion. It’s worth your time.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out Seven Pounds at your local rental store or pick it up at Amazon:

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Hancock was… slightly unexpected!?!

Hancock Poster Small

Hi all…

Had a chance to see Hancock last week and I have to say it both was and wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but came away happily surprised by that fact. :)

Here‘s the IMDB link.

This is a Peter Berg movie where Peter Berg seems to be on a rampage trying to prove to himself that he’s not pigeon-holed in one movie genre. I loved last year’s The Kingdom, which also paired Peter Berg and Jason Bateman (in a more serious role). Hancock has a trio of powerful, successful actors with Will Smith as John Hancock, Jason Bateman as Ray Embrey (advertising guru), and Charlize Theron as Mary, Ray’s wife.

Rating: ★★★☆

It starts out with Hancock causing trouble (evidently that’s what he’s been doing for years in Los Angeles. He saves Ray from being hit by a train, Ray decides that what Hancock needs is an image makeover… Thus begins the long road of redemption for Hancock…

What was intriguing to me was that Berg wove a compelling tale of loss, discovery, and redemption for Hancock. I won’t provide spoilers here (though the movie’s been out for a few weeks), but the story behind Hancock’s history was what really sold me on this movie. You don’t find out until the end how he came to be where he was or what he is, so I won’t spoil it.

The ride to discovery for the audience was fun for me. This movie had much more heart than I thought it would have. Berg and the writers (Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan) made the story work to their advantage, showing actual [gasp] change in Hancock’s character from where he is when the movie starts to where he is at the end.

Was this movie in the same league as Iron Man or The Dark Knight? Not for me. But I know I enjoyed it, as did my wife. There’s a lot of humor and sarcasm bound in the dialog, which we both appreciate.

Charlize Theron

One thing that I will mention. I think the advertisting campaign that Ray (Bateman) was pushing in the movie would actually be pretty cool. Yes, it’s a little over the top, but to show corporate kindness goes a long way to improving corporate image, don’t you think?

At any rate… I give this a solid 3/4. I really enjoyed the interplay between the characters and Hancock’s road to redeeming himself. Plus, it has Charlize Theron in it, who I personally think is one of the most beautiful women in the world.

What did you think?

–Fitz

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Busy Few Weeks Ahead Movie-wise…

The Dark Knight (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Hi all…

It’s going to be a busy few weeks coming up as far as movies go. We’ll be out of town this weekend, so we’ll miss the Wall-E opening weekend, but I’m looking forward to:

And that’s just the next 4 weeks!!

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE summer?

–Fitz

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