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Sliver - Unrated
Some may argue that Sharon Stone's most provocative role was in Paul Verhoven's Basic Instinct (1992) and there is probably a good reason for such a claim. Her notorious interrogation scene gave carte blanhce to film directors around the world to go that extra mile if the script would allow. Unfortunately, the success of Basic Instinct also inspired some truly awful copycats. Phillip Noyce's Sliver is one of them!
When Carly Norris, a successful book editor, moves into her luxurious New York condo she quickly befriends the neighbors. Vida (Polly Walker), who lives across the hall, is a drug-addict with a troubled past. Zeke Hawkins (William Baldwin) seems like a charming guy but a smart girl would know that men his type are not to be trusted. And Jack Landsford (Tom Berenger) is an author whose talents as it seems reach way beyond his writing. But Carly seems comfortable with her new condo. And so does someone else…a mysterious person recording her moves through an advanced system of computerized cameras.
Based on the novel by Ira Levin Sliver is a film that will hardly surprise you with exceptional originality. The plot is clichéd, the acting is mediocre, and the main characters rather boring. Yet, back in 1993 the passionate sexual interludes between William Baldwin and Sharon Stone were a good enough reason for many to pay their ticket charge and spend ninety minutes wishing they had a condo in the high-rise Sliver.
Riding on the success of Basic Instinct and the scandalous character Sharon Stone played Sliver attempted to explore a familiar formula. Only very little from Ira Levin's book made it to the film. As a result neither the acting nor the story proved convincing enough for the critics and the film was quickly tagged as one of the worst in Stone's career. If anything good ever came out of Sliver it was the lovely soundtrack which launched such downtempo hits as ENIGMA's Carly's Loneliness and The Young Gods' Skinflowers.
The steamy sex which Sliver offers (at least it was steamy enough back in 1993) was a solid reason for male filmgoers to see Phillip Noyce's creation. It did not matter how bad this film was as no one really expected to see an engaging story. In fact, Paramount decided to play it safe and released a sanitized-version of the film for the domestic market while international distributors proved a tiny bit more appreciative of Sharon Stone's talent(s). It was quite the market move…when it finally appeared on VHS the "unrated" cut of Sliver was a glorious collector's item!
So, thirteen years later it appears that Sliver has evolved into a guilty pleasure for many that used to question its value. In fact, I don't think it will be a stretch to say that Phillip Noyce's work fits the description "one of those really, really, really bad films that are so bad that people actually like them".
How Does the DVD Look?
Well, I don't like what I see!! First of all even though the film is enhanced for widescreen TV's the framing is incorrect. Sliver was shot in Panavision 2.35:1 and what I see here is an aspect ratio quite different than what Phillip Noyce intended. Sliver appears zoomed-in and as a result what you get is a ratio which is slightly wider than 1.85:1 but nowhere near 2.35:1. Someone obviously dropped the ball here. Furthermore, the image quality is not as good as I was expecting. While some viewers may be fooled by the occasionally vivid colors, if you happen to view Sliver on a regular tube that is, if seen through a digital projector the image reveals a number of issues. First of all I noticed a few dust specs in the opening few minutes and while they disappeared later on some might be slightly annoyed by their presence, after all this film is not so old. Second of all, as noted above if you blow out the image through a digital projector the picture does not hold well. The image breaks up and I believe that people with more sensitive home theaters will be quite upset by it. Last but not least edge enhancement is quite an issue with this release which one should most definitely consider. All in all, this entire release appears to be a quickly put-together effort by Paramount with very little care invested in the quality department.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with its original English language track (2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Digital options provided) and a rather meaningless French dub Sliver does not impress. I listened to both of the audio tracks mentioned above and while the 5.1 mix sounds a tiny bit better it is not as impressive as it should be. All you need to do to determine that this is not the best mixing job Paramount could have provided us with is to listen to the opening track by ENIGMA. There is hardly any depth and the sound coming out of my rear speakers is simply very weak. To sum it all up the audio presentation is slightly above average. With optional English subtitles.
There is not even a single trailer on this DVD!
Sliver may not be the greatest film ever made but I know for a fact that plenty of people were awaiting its release (me included). So, to see such a lackluster presentation by Paramount is quite frankly upsetting. While you may tolerate the inept visual presentation which is not as bad if you will be viewing the film on a standard tube the aspect ratio blunder, the unimpressive 5.1 mix, and the total lack of extras lead me to believe that Paramount simply decided to make a few quick bucks on the eve of Basic Instinct 2 and its official premiere. I am hesitant to even recommend this DVD as a rental….