Blu-ray Review Sleeper Blu-ray Review

Cameron Yee

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Woody Allen’s sci-fi parody “Sleeper” awakens on Blu-ray with a strong high definition video presentation, but a lossless track that doesn’t complement it in quality. Like other past releases of Allen’s films, the Blu-ray is effectively barebones, but fans of the film should find it worthwhile given a more budget price point.
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Sleeper Release Date: January 15, 2013
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray keepcase
Year: 1973
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1:27:24
MSRP: $24.99
THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video AVC: 1080p high definition 1.85:1 High definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 1.0 / Dolby Digital: Spanish 1.0, French 1.0 Dolby Digital: English 2.0 Subtitles English SDH, Spanish None
The Feature: 3/5 One-time health food store owner Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) gets the surprise of his life when he’s awoken from 200 years of cryogenic stasis in the year 2173. Rebel fighters want to use his undocumented status to infiltrate the totalitarian government running the American Federation (formerly the United States) and find out what’s behind the mysterious Aries Project. The hapless Miles feels – and frankly is – ill-equipped for the task, and soon he’s on the run from security forces who have identified him as an alien in need of a mind wipe. He manages to find refuge in the home of poet socialite Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton) by posing as her robotic servant, but when he can’t maintain the facade any longer he’s forced to kidnap her and take her on the run with him. Though the two of them will eventually reach an understanding, with Luna turning from kidnap victim to fellow fugitive, it won’t be long until security forces catch up and brainwash Miles into a subservient Federation citizen. Though it appears he’s now lost to the rebel cause, Luna’s influence could still turn him around and make him into the government-overthrowing figure everyone wants him to be.
Most viewers will find “Sleeper,” Woody Allen’s farcical sci-fi parody, just plain dumb. Mind you, they wouldn’t be wrong, but that’s also kind of the point. The movie is purely for entertainment, with nothing to be taken seriously, not even Allen’s sometimes incisive zingers about 20th Century history and culture. While there’s certainly some political subtext in there with the American Federation and its stranglehold on independent thought and identity, it’s there only because it’s poking fun at dystopian storytelling, not making such a statement of its own. Someone could certainly make the case otherwise, but why bother when the films that “Sleeper” draws from (e.g. “Metropolis” and “Fahrenheit 451”) are themselves so ripe (and eager) for analysis? Indeed, the best way to approach Allen’s nod to those films is to check the brain at the door and get ready to alternately laugh and groan at almost 90 minutes of some downright nonsensical schtick.
Video Quality: 4/5 Framed at 1.85:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer features inky black levels and a full and uncompromised range of contrast. Color is richly saturated, with pleasing and realistic flesh tones. Detail holds up from establishing shots to close ups, though heavier grain in more dimly lit environments can affect fine rendering of things like hair and skin texture. The dirt and dust-free image also exhibits no digital artifacts, creating a remarkably well preserved looking picture.
Audio Quality: 2.5/5 Dialogue in 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently intelligible, but the track has a persistent hiss or rasp about it that is a little distracting. The mix is also rather utilitarian, with highly centered placement of all speech, sound effects and music. Dynamic range is decent, however, the lower registers exhibiting good fullness and depth.
Special Features: 1/5
Theatrical Trailer (2:19, HD)
Recap and Recommendation The Film: 3/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 2.5/5
Special Features: 1/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3/5
MGM Home Entertainment delivers a solid video presentation for Woody Allen’s nonsensical sci-fi parody “Sleeper,” though its audio track could have stood some clean up of some of its more distracting flaws. The bonus material is limited to a lone theatrical trailer, but those who find this particular, more lowbrow style of Allen film appealing should be pleased with the release. Everyone else is advised to rent the film first.
 

TonyD

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Not one of my favorite Woody's but a not great Woody is still worth owning. 8.99 at Costco if you can find it.
 

Dick

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This and HANNAH AND HER SISTERS were available at my local Sam's Club for $9.99 each.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Quote:
Not one of my favorite Woody's but a not great Woody is still worth owning.
Agreed, Tony.
Hoping MGM releases the rest of the early Woody library
(We enjoy his films - particularly the early funny ones)
Would love to see Bananas, Play it Again Sam, Love & Death,
Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex.
Of course, the crown jewel of the early Woody library is
Take The Money and Run. Surprisingly, MGM might have
the rights to this film as I found a fullscreen DVD on Amazon
with their logo attached to it. Here's hoping THAT gem gets
released next.
Thanks for the review, Cameron. Outside of slight audio
problems it sounds as if these titles are faring well on the format.
 

lukejosephchung

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Got to see this 40 years ago at the new-defunct Regency Theater in San Francisco...with Woody in the audience!!! It was a fun check-your-brain-at-the-door romp then and remains so today in my mind...glad this is finally available in hi-def to enjoy fully as a true home theater presentation...
 

Bryan^H

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I'll get this. I have watched the bulk of Woody Allen's work, and to be honest 'Sleeper', and 'Radio Days' are the only films I really cared for.
 

theonemacduff

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Sleeper is actually based on an H.G. Wells novel, When The Sleeper Wakes, which has a fair bit of political content in it, and which takes a similar kind of sceptical look at revolutionaries seeking to overthrow a totalitarian system. Wells repeatedly re-visited the novel to try and get it to work (it never really did come together), and maybe Allen saw the story as an opportunity to take a few pot shots at the middle-class radicals of the 1970s. As to the film, yeah, I saw it when it came out and I agree with Bryan H., this one and Radio Days are two of my faves of all the Woodster's output. I will admit, however, to a hugh soft spot for Stardust Memories, which I don't know whether or not it's out on BR yet. There were clips from it in high def in the PBS documentary on Woody, but that documentary has never been issued in BR, which, alas alas, seems to be policy for American Experience docs. Final note: north of the 49th, WalMart is selling Sleeper for $15, which (alas) is par for the course for Canadian retail, i.e., jacked up prices, even though the exchange rate has been flat for nearly a decade, and distribution costs in major Canadian markets are not higher than in the States. Sigh.
 

Russell G

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I've never really dived into Woody Allen films, only having seen a couple. I'm probably going to hold out on this one in hopes of a boxset at some point collecting these.
 

Moe Dickstein

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Sleeper is actually one of my top favorite Woody films. For me it's this, Zelig, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Small Time Crooks. I certainly haven't seen all his films but those are my favorites.
 

mikeyhitchfan

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Originally Posted by Moe Dickstein
Sleeper is actually one of my top favorite Woody films. For me it's this, Zelig, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Small Time Crooks. I certainly haven't seen all his films but those are my favorites.
You should also see Husbands and Wives, Match Point, Mighty Aphrodite, Hannah and Her Sisters, Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors. Some of my favorites.
 

Moe Dickstein

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Match point was good, didn't love Mighty Aphrodite, Annie Hall is good but a level below the ones I mentioned for me. Haven't seen the others yet.
 

Yorkshire

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I raise the question every now and then - is anyone aware of MGM's plans for Woody Allen? Worryingly, we had two releases at the start of 2012, and nothing until two more at the start of 2013. I hope we don't have to wait another 12 months for 2 more, which potentially might not be my favourites anyway. Steve W
 

mikeyhitchfan

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Originally Posted by Yorkshire
I raise the question every now and then - is anyone aware of MGM's plans for Woody Allen?
Worryingly, we had two releases at the start of 2012, and nothing until two more at the start of 2013. I hope we don't have to wait another 12 months for 2 more, which potentially might not be my favourites anyway.
Steve W
Which is why I broke down and ordered the Woody 20 DVD U.K. collection. It's Region B locked, and has 4 titles I have on BD, but I'm tired of waiting for a BD box set.
I own all the Woody blu-ray titles from various countries (no double dips, though) including Sweden, Finland, Italy, Australia and the U.S.
Since his films have never been big box office (with a few exceptions), coupled with the various studios involved over the years, the possibility of a blu-ray box set seems small. MGM/Fox could do a 20 film collection, but would it sell? Sony Classics a 5-6 collection. Miramax maybe 4-5 titles. Maybe after he passes away there will be some kind of set released. It's all about profit.
 

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