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Sneakers Blu-ray

United States
Best Buy Exclusive until Jul 14, 2015 Universal Studios | 1992 | 126 min | Rated PG-13 | Feb 17, 2015

Sneakers (Blu-ray)

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (32.98 Mbps)
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.84:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
French: DTS 5.1

English SDH

50GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)

Region free

List price: $19.98, Price history

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Movie rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Blu-ray rating
Video 3.5 of 53.5
Audio 4.0 of 54.0
Extras 3.4 of 53.4
Based on 2 user reviews

Movie appeal 



Sneakers Blu-ray offers decent video and great audio in this overall recommended Blu-ray release

Martin Bishop is the head of a group of experts who specialise in testing security systems. When he is blackmailed by Government agents into stealing a top secret black box, the team find themselves embroiled in a game of danger and intrigue.

For more about Sneakers and the Sneakers Blu-ray release, see Sneakers Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.

Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Writers: Phil Alden Robinson, Lawrence Lasker, Walter F. Parkes
Starring: Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, River Phoenix, Sidney Poitier

» See full cast & crew

Sneakers Blu-ray, Video Quality

  3.0 of 5

John Lindley, who shot Field of Dreams for Robinson (and most recently St. Vincent), describes many of the practical challenges presented by the cinematography of Sneakers on the commentary track, where he participates with the director, although he is not listed. For example, the opening college section in 1969 takes place during a snowstorm that fades to a snowy TV screen in the present, with the red glare of police lights transitioning to the red glow of electronics; specific qualities of film stocks and lenses made this transition challenging. (Today it would be massaged digitally.)

Universal's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray appears to be derived from the same transfer used on its previous HD-DVD release of Sneakers, which was encoded with VC-1, and is probably the same transfer previously used for DVD. Along with being re-encoded, the Blu-ray presentation appears to have been somewhat cleaned up, with fewer pock marks and speckles. Otherwise, the detail, colors, densities and black levels are roughly comparable, which isn't necessarily a compliment. Colors are nicely saturated, especially the primaries of computer monitors and electronic equipment in darkened rooms, vans, crawl spaces and access tunnels where Bishop and his cohorts ply their trade. The brighter spaces of Liz's apartment, which get converted into a temporary "sneaker" HQ, are equally colorful, but with a much warmer and softer palette, and the scenes inside Ben Kingsley's lair are steely cold.

The biggest concern with this image is its lack of dimensionality. There is a flatness to the image, an absence of depth and texture, which results from the lack of fine detail and a kind of digital "mushiness" of the sort that often gets "corrected" with electronic sharpening. (Fortunately, that doesn't appear to have happened here.) A new, hi-resolution scan would be required to restored Sneakers to its original look, along with a greater effort to capture the film's grain structure. It's not that grain isn't visible, but it lacks the organic quality that makes an image film-like. Sneakers has always been a dark film, but the Blu-ray seems excessively so. With better depth and detail, and also with finer differentiation of color, the darkness would be less of an issue.

Universal has encoded Sneakers at a high bitrate of 32.98 Mbps. It's nice to have the bandwidth, but the film needed a new transfer to take full advantage of all those bits.

Sneakers Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  4.0 of 5

Sneakers was released in Dolby Stereo Surround, but the era of multi-channel digital tracks was just around the corner, and the original stems must have been preserved, because the 5.1 remix, which also appeared on HD-DVD in Dolby Digital Plus, sounds very natural in its presentation on Blu-ray in lossless DTS-HD MA. Note, however, that if you are used to the HD-DVD, the DD+ mix was mixed much "hotter" than the Blu-ray's track. The Blu-ray must be turned up much louder to achieve the same effect.

The surrounds are effectively and frequently used for environmental sounds: of van interiors, tunnels, limousines, the headquarters of Bishop & Associates, San Francisco street locations, tight crawl spaces, a lecture given by Dr. Janek, even a concert at the Russian consulate. In one key sequence, a villain addresses someone hiding in a building over its P.A. system, and the voice changes timber, quality and direction as the camera's POV cuts to points throughout the structure. Several critical sound effects that cannot be identified without giving away plot points are realistically reproduced, and the dialogue is clear throughout. James Horner's cleverly jaunty score rises and falls at just the right points. Horner's work is essential to maintaining Sneakers' spell; his music reassures us that, yes, this film about serious-sounding subjects remains a light-hearted comedy, at least most of the time.

Sneakers: Other Editions


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