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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Sleepers [Blu-ray]

 

(Barry Levinson, 1996)

 

   

   

  

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Polygram Filmed Entertainment

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:27:37.348

Disc Size: 29,300,523,960 bytes

Feature Size: 29,144,199,168 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.84 Mbps

Chapters: 43

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 2nd, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4020 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4020 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Theatrical Trailer (2:16 in 480i)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Barry Levinson directed this crime drama based on a controversial bestseller. Jason Patrick stars as Lorenzo, a New... York reporter more commonly called Shakes, a nickname courtesy of his three childhood pals from Hell's Kitchen -- Michael (Brad Pitt), John (Ron Eldard), and Tommy (Billy Crudup). As kids, all four were sent to reform school after accidentally killing someone during a cruel prank. There, the boys were raped and beaten by several guards, including Sean Nokes (Kevin Bacon), a fact that they've kept secret into adulthood. Michael is now a rising star in the district attorney's office, while John and Tommy are founders of the Irish gang the Westies. When Nokes walks into John and Tommy's hangout, they kill him in cold blood and go on trial, defended by a drug-addicted lawyer (Dustin Hoffman). Michael and Shakes conspire with childhood friend Carol (Minnie Driver) and local priest Father Bobby (Robert DeNiro) to free their friends and get even with the surviving guards. Based on a true story chronicled by Lorenzo Carcaterra in his novel of the same name, Sleepers stirred controversy when the veracity of the book was challenged by reporters who could find no documentation of the events described.

~ Karl Williams, All Movie Guide.

 

 

The Film:

Robert DeNiro. Dustin Hoffman. Brad Pitt. Jason Patric. Kevin Bacon. Minnie Driver. With a talented cast like this, it's virtually impossible to envision a bad movie, and, in that regard, Sleepers doesn't surprise or disappoint. This is easily Barry Levinson's best effort of the decade, and it helps to erase the bad taste left by his early-'90s mega-flops Toys and Jimmy Hollywood. Despite protests from the Catholic Church (which whines about any movie that portrays priests as anything less-than-pure), Sleepers, which represents two and one-half hours of gripping entertainment, is well worth the price of admission.

The movie is about revenge and redemption, and how, in America's darkest social corridors and backalleys, the two can be inextricably linked. It's also a condemnation of a criminal justice system that allows innocence to be callously destroyed. Yet, even though Sleepers is basically a vigilante motion picture, it exists on a much higher plane than something like Death Wish, which offers a least common denominator, visceral satisfaction.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at ReelViews located HERE

''This is a story about friendships that run deeper than blood,'' Mr. Carcaterra insists at the start of ''Sleepers.'' He proceeds to tell how he, Michael, John and Tommy, four picture-perfect scalawags from Central Casting, spent their Hell's Kitchen boyhood dealing with a colorful array of local characters. Father figures are everywhere: Father Bobby, the street-wise priest played with fine winking beatitude by Robert De Niro; Lorenzo's hot-tempered real father (Bruno Kirby); and the debonair local Don, called King Benny (the elegant Vittorio Gassman, giving the film some gravity and class). In a story like this, the Don is sure to be seen peacefully feeding the pigeons, saying, ''I like anything that don't talk.''

Excerpt from Janet Maslin at the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Sleepers is given a solid Blu-ray transfer from Warner.  It shows sequences of impressive detail - far sharper than SD could relate. It is clean without undue glossiness and showcases some minor depth on the dual-layered 1080P rendering.  I only saw one instance of some unusual noise but otherwise the presentation seemed far closer to 'film' than my old flipper DVD. Contrast is one of the better attributes of the image and colors, appearing pale at times, seem accurate without falsifying digital boosts. Skin tones are accurte. It looks very good - not quite great - but consistent and easily the best digital, home theater, treatment to date of this fine film.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a robust 4020 kbps easily handles the less aggressive soundtrack of Sleepers. The original score is by the renowned John Williams and plays perfectly following beside the activity along with an extended list of era top 40 hits including "Hurdy Gurdy Man", "Gimme Some Lovin", "Walk Like A Man", "My Eyes Adored You" and "Good Vibrations" to name a few. It sounds toe-tappingly crisp and vibrant via the lossless track. Range and depth are more subtle and probably in-line with the production intent. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

I suppose this fits the category of 'bare-bones status' with only an SD trailer as a supplement. It's a long film but a commentary with Levinson would have been a solid bonus and Sleepers, in my opinion, is lauded and worthy enough to support the effort.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The subject matter of Sleepers - especially the first half - can be an uncomfortable one. But Levinson and the all-star cast pull-off an impressive feat - giving weight to the less-palatable and driving home the film emphasizing other themes of friendship, survival and overcoming unjust adversities. It achieves this while striking many authentic tones. This is yet another in the ever-growing list of film experiences that improved immeasurably by being seen in the more film-like presentation of Blu-ray. Sleepers is far more impacting, tense, and emotionally exhausting than when seen via SD and despite the lack of viable extras - we give this product a solid recommendation. 

Gary Tooze

July 25th, 2011

 

   

   

  


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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