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SLEEPERS

SLEEPERS ($20) is a solid entertaining drama from director Barry Levinson, about a group of four boyhood friends who share a common bond that changes all of their lives. The four friends commit what they assumed to be a harmless prank. Unfortunately for them, things go out of control and a man is seriously injured. Because of their actions, the four boys find themselves sentenced to a rather nasty school for juvenile delinquents. At the school, the boys are subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of sadistic guards. The story paints a clear portrait of the indignities the boys are forced to endure, and why their lives are permanently scarred.

SLEEPERS then skips ahead 15 years, to a time when the now adult friends finally take revenge on the guards. A murder trial ensues that reveals the abuses that ran rampant at the reform school. At the heart of SLEEPERS is its great ensemble cast which features Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Bacon, Jason Patrick, Brad Pitt, Brad Renfro, Bruno Kirby, Billy Crudup, Vittorio Gassman and Minnie Driver. Director Levinson keeps the film moving, making its two and a half hour running time seem much shorter. SLEEPERS is based upon author Lorenzo Carcaterra’s controversial bestseller, which the author claims to be a true story. The film ends with a disclaimer stating that there is no evidence to corroborate the author’s story.

Warner Home Video has made SLEEPERS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. For a fifteen-year-old film, SLEEPERS comes with a fine quality 1080p presentation that is certain to please. Image sharpness, detail, clarity are all very strong performers. Dimensionality is good, while fine details, such as textures and imperfections in the actors’ skin come across quite well. Colors are sometimes a bit subdued, but for the most part appear pretty well saturated. In general, flesh tones are attractive. Blacks are deep, while the whites are crisp and clean. The picture generally produces smooth contrast, plus a good level of shadow detail. The film elements appear very clean. Grain is modest, but does help maintain a film like presentation.

SLEEPERS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that SLEEPERS is talky drama, the sound design isn’t likely to make anyone’s demo pile. Still, the outlying channels do see some modest activity, most of which features sound effects of an environmental nature, which create cohesive sonic environments. Both the John Williams score and the pop songs on the soundtrack benefit from the lossless encode, as do the convincing sound effects. The bass adds weight to the sound effects, as the material doesn’t lend itself to any ground shaking. Voices are cleanly and distinctly reproduced, plus the dialogue is easy to understand. A French 5.1 Dolby Digital 5.1 channel and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 track are also present. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a Theatrical Trailer.

As I stated above, SLEEPERS is a solid entertaining drama from director Barry Levinson. While the story has some issues that will surely affect the audience’s comfort level, Levinson and the terrific ensemble cast really deliver the goods. The Blu-ray presentation is quite pleasing. Recommended.

 
SLEEPERS 


Sleepers [Blu-ray] (1996)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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