H D - S E L E C T

A view on HD DVDs by Yunda Eddie Feng


Introduction: Hello, Beaver readers! I became a serious cineophile in 1994 when I saw Schindler's List on my birthday. I realized that movies weren't just for fun--they could be serious art, too (even mainstream popcorn flicks if they're made with skill). Although I have a BA in English, I went to grad school for an MA in Film Studies. There, I met my mentor Dr. Warren Buckland, who shares my interest in Steven Spielberg's artistry (Spielberg and art aren't mutually exclusive). I helped edit Dr. Buckland's book Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. I also contributed a chapter to Dr. Buckland's forthcoming anthology of essays about "complex storytelling" movies--movies that avoid classical linear storylines in favor of temporal disruptions, unreliable narrators, metatheatrical/"self-aware" references, etc.

Eddie's Home Theatre:
Sharp 30-inch LCD TV (1280x768 resolution)
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player
Oppo OPDV971H SD-DVD player
Pioneer 7.1 DD/DTS receiver
Harmon Kardon speakers (5.1)

(I'm using the HD-A2's optical audio connection to obtain DTS 5.1 downmixes.)

Yunda Eddie Feng







Sneakers HD-DVD

(Phil Alden Robinson, 1992)

Universal (USA)
Review by Yunda Eddie Feng

Universal (USA)
1.85:1 1080p
126 minutes
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 2.0 stereo French
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French
Extras: audio commentary by writer/director Phil Alden Robinson and cinematographer John Lindley; "The Making of Sneakers, trailer; My Scenes
Released: 12 June 2007
HD-DVD case
16 chapters

Caper flicks are rare these days, and the ones that do show up in movie theaters are usually hybrids with other genres, like comedy (Ocean’s Eleven), romance (The Thomas Crown Affair), or action (Mission: Impossible). However, 1992’s Sneakers is a genuine caper flick in the tradition of Rififi and Bob le flambeur. Sneakers immerses the viewer in the world of nuts-and-bolts thievery instead of showcasing self-impressed/self-important actors standing around looking like they’re cool. What’s more, although Sneakers is fronted by Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier, the script makes extensive use of each member of a team. This characteristic enhances the plausibility of the premise and increases the tension since no one team member can fail without the entire enterprise floundering. In this regard, Sneakers respects its audience’s intelligence, charms through wit and invention, and avoids wearing out its welcome.

The 1.85:1 1080p picture looks like what one would expect of a movie that’s about fifteen-years-old. Colors are a bit faded, and the picture is a slightly soft and muted. Nevertheless, one should mention that the video is considerably sharper and more detailed than what you get with just about any SD-DVD, and this is a pleasing presentation.


Sneakers is not an action or music extravaganza, so the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track is appropriately low-key. Most of the sound mix favors the front speakers, though a few gunshots here and there and some ambient noises float to the surrounds and the subwoofer.

You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 2.0 stereo French dub. Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

The HD-DVD's extras are the same as the ones found on the Special Edition SD-DVD release. First up is an audio commentary by writer/director Phil Alden Robinson and cinematographer John Lindley. The two men cover just about all the bases when discussing the movie's genesis as well as anecdotes about what happened on the set. (The audio commentary is mis-labled on both the packaging and the menus!)

The Making of Sneakers” is a relatively lengthy overview of the production that offers a good amount of information but has some overlaps with the audio commentary. You also get the theatrical trailer.

Finally, you can bookmark your favorite moments with “My Scenes”.

An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.


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