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HTF Review: Sliver (Unrated)



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#1 of 28 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted March 25 2006 - 02:53 AM

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Sliver (Unrated)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Year: 2006 (1993 Release)
Rated: Unrated (violence, drug content, sexuality and nudity)
Aspect Ratio: 2.10:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays (see Video section)
Audio: English DD 5.1; English 2.0 surround; French 2.0 surround
Subtitles: English
Time: 107 minutes
Disc Format: DVD-9
Case Style: Keep case
DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006


Spring boarding from the success of “Basic Instinct”, Joe Eszterhas took another stab (sorry, couldn’t resist that pun) at the thriller genre with “Sliver”, loosely based on Ira Levin’s novel. Sharon Stone plays Carly Norris, an inner city, 90’s, can-do type of gal who has recently divorced. She’s confident in her job and she is eager to find a new, long-term relationship. Carly finds a new apartment whose previous tenant was thrown from the balcony. She quickly begins attracting the attention of the males in the building, including Billy Baldwin’s Zeke and Tom Berenger’s Jack (who she also has business dealings with in the publishing world). After a rather intense work out, Carly and Zeke head back to his place for a little more “intense action”, if you catch my drift. Carly finds herself involved in a physical relationship with Zeke, which is driven by his deep-rooted psychological issues.

Zeke is a voyeur, and he has the $6 million dollar set-up to prove it. We learn Zeke owns the building they live in, and he has wired each apartment so he may sit in his control room and watch the going’s on of each of his tenants. While Zeke and Carly’s relationship intensifies, Jack’s irritation grows; he is intent on getting Carly for himself. Jack also has a few other problems that turn out to have more relevance in the overall story of “Sliver”. As Carly delves deeper into her relationship with Zeke, she learns that watching has its consequences, often with painful and violent ends.

“Sliver” is certainly a product of its time (with its references to Pearl Jam and Dr. Ruth) and it does not hold up that well. In thinking back to when I saw the picture in 1993, it didn’t really hold up too well then, either. Eszterhas is obviously the most frustrated Hitchcock wanna-be in recent memory, and he seems to think if Hitch were alive today he’d be making C grade, soft-core porn. “Sliver” owes a huge thanks to “Rear Window” for the basic idea (voyeurism), but that’s as far as it goes. I did like the cocktail party scene, which is reminiscent of pictures from days gone by: what better way to learn about your characters quickly than throwing them all in a room and allowing them to mingle. Hitch used it for an entire movie (“Rope”), but “Sliver’s paper thin characters can barely maintain it for three minutes. This “un-rated” version, which originally saw its release in overseas markets, seems tame by today’s standards, but at least it is now on DVD and the format can breath a sigh of relief.

One would hope there would be some redemption in the actors playing the roles, but that doesn’t even happen. Stone, Baldwin and Berenger plod through their lines and barely show any excitement when the scenes turn racy. “Sliver” falls in league with some fine offerings you’ll find on Cinemax about two in the morning. In most cases, the Cinemax actors try harder and you wish they were getting the $2.5 million Stone earned for this role.

An interesting thing popped out at me while watching “Sliver” now: Zeke makes a speech about watching real life unfold when he shows Carly the room of monitors. He asks her what is more interesting than watching the lives of everyday people. While I don’t ascribe any precognitive abilities on either Levin or Eszterhas, you could view “Sliver” as a harbinger to reality TV, albeit distorted through a lousy movie. As I scan through the 200 or so channels I’ve got, I usually stop at anything to do with fixing a house or daring a guy to eat a Buick. In 2006, maybe I would be more interested in what my neighbors are doing as opposed to seeing what’s happening on Wysteria Lane.

Video:
This picture was originally shot at 2.35:1. The DVD appears to be somewhere around 2.10 or 2.20, and it is anamorphically enhanced. I am unsure why Paramount has decided to mess with the OAR and I will contact them to see if they can provide me with a reason. Edge enhancement is evident throughout the picture and it is overbearing in some scenes. Colors are fair, but they go through a range of saturation levels depending on the needs of the scene. The picture is hazy in places and fine detail is lost in both the fore- and backgrounds. Occasional close-ups of the actors show some more detail, but they still lack the quality of some of today’s finer releases. Black levels are fine and they show adequate detail.
ADDENDUM on 3/28/06: Paramount let me know the change from 2.35:1 to 2.10:1 was done at the request of director Phillip Noyce.

Audio:
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is fair, but dated. I was able to pick out ADR and studio foley effects quite easily. It also sounds very canned at times and there are bad echo effects, as if they were using an MP3 encoded at 96k instead of 320k. As would be expected, the LFE was rarely engaged with a large majority of the soundtrack, even with the music, staying in the mid and high ranges. The soundtrack provides a fairly good sound field and it uses the surrounds for some ambient effect, placing you in the center of the soundstage.

Bonus Material:
None, not even a lousy EPK or bios of the cast. Heck, I’d even settle for a trailer. Or better yet, a commentary from Eszterhas ripping into the movie since he has said he hates it.


Conclusions:
I spent some time looking for a previous release of “Sliver” on DVD for comparison, but it turns out there wasn’t one. Based on the issues with the video and lack of extras, I wish Paramount would have waited a little while longer to put this one out.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 28 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted March 25 2006 - 05:24 AM

Quote:
An interesting thing popped out at me while watching “Sliver” now:


Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#3 of 28 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted March 25 2006 - 09:38 AM

Quote:
An interesting thing popped out at me while watching “Sliver”


Ahhh haaa haaa haaa! Pat you are busted!

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#4 of 28 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted March 25 2006 - 12:00 PM

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Hahahaha.
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#5 of 28 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted March 25 2006 - 01:10 PM

Gosh, sorry Pat.

I [hee hee] didn't [snort] mean to open you up to [chortle] criticism by your [snicker] peers. [Guffaw!]

Posted Image

Crosses fingers that Pat has a good sense of humor!

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#6 of 28 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted March 25 2006 - 03:00 PM

BWhahahah! Posted Image

Thanks, guys, for taking my reviewing integrity so seriously (he says, very sarcastically). I laughed about Mike's post all day, and as I told him, the line was completely unintentional. Which actually makes it funnier.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#7 of 28 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

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Posted March 26 2006 - 04:03 AM

Thanks very much for the review. I for one love this movie. I actually caught it on TV just a few weeks ago and enjoyed it as much now as I did when it was first released. I was actually planning on getting this before reading this review, but it sounds like one huge mess. The tampering with the AR is obviously my biggest gripe.

I think too many studios are using the "unrated" term way too loosely. I checked the running time on my VHS version, and this one is only 1 minute longer. I remember back in the day when "unrated" actually meant something.

Anyway, I'd love to hear Paramount's reason for changing the AR.
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#8 of 28 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted March 26 2006 - 05:39 AM

Can you tell us what may have been added to get this extra minute or "unrated" designation?
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#9 of 28 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

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Posted March 26 2006 - 08:04 AM

Quote:
Can you tell us what may have been added to get this extra minute or "unrated" designation?

Well in order to do that I'd have to see the "unrated" version to compare, and for the reasons I stated above, I have no intention of purchasing it. Perhaps I'll rent it soon and see what was added.
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#10 of 28 OFFLINE   Richard Michael Clark

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Posted March 26 2006 - 08:17 AM

I can't believe Paramount have messed with the AR!
WHY????????? I really want to know their reason. I hope you are able to get it from them Pat.

You wait and wait for some flicks to get a dvd release and then when they finally do they are as lousy as this disc! Posted Image
I may be in the minority but this flick is a massive guilty pleasure of mine! It's so wonderfully awful! Posted Image
But I can't excuse a lousy presentation and won't be buying it because of this, despite it being one of my most-wanted unreleased titles!

#11 of 28 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted March 26 2006 - 10:56 AM

I'll be posting the review tonight or tomorrow for two of the Peanuts theatricals. The AR is off on both of them as well. I've dispatched an email to Paramount.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#12 of 28 OFFLINE   ScottR

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Posted March 26 2006 - 11:29 AM

I know that in the original cut of the film, William Baldwin had a full frontal scene but it was cut. It wasn't in the Unrated vhs version either.

#13 of 28 OFFLINE   DougFND

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Posted March 27 2006 - 06:01 AM

Quote:
I know that in the original cut of the film, William Baldwin had a full frontal scene but it was cut. It wasn't in the Unrated vhs version either.


I remember reading or hearing back around the release of this movie that he did, in fact, have a full frontal nude scene. However, it was cut due to his being...um...well..shall we say less than impressive.

Of course, I have no idea if that's true. Just something I heard way back when.

#14 of 28 OFFLINE   Dave Mack

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Posted March 27 2006 - 08:46 AM

Pat, What's wrong with the Peanuts discs?

Thanks! d

edit: oops. just saw your review. Posted Image

#15 of 28 OFFLINE   David (C)

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Posted March 28 2006 - 04:54 AM

Without having seen the actual disc it is very likely Paramount used the WS LD as reference on how the DVD should be framed. I see no major harm between 2.28 vs. 2.35 letterboxing.

#16 of 28 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted March 28 2006 - 07:15 AM

Here's a screenshot:

Posted Image

Looks taller than 2.28:1.
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#17 of 28 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted March 28 2006 - 02:30 PM

I got a response from my contact with Paramount. They said it is 2.10:1 and it was per the director (Philip Noyce)'s request.

I've updated my review to reflect this.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#18 of 28 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted March 28 2006 - 02:35 PM

Out of all the potential screen caps of Sliver, THAT'S the one Andrew gives us?!?!

Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#19 of 28 OFFLINE   Richard Michael Clark

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Posted March 28 2006 - 11:48 PM

Quote:
I got a response from my contact with Paramount. They said it is 2.10:1 and it was per the director (Philip Noyce)'s request.

Fair enough then I guess. Thanks for finding out for us, Pat!
Still think it's an odd decision personally!

#20 of 28 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted March 29 2006 - 02:47 AM

LOL Mike. I literally threw the disc in and found the first lighter scene so you could see the bars.

Any requests?

Posted Image
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