Does anyone have some tweezers? Judge Eric Profancik needs to get rid of this Sliver.
You like to watch…don't you?
Sharon Stone. That name. Those two simple words immediately conjure up a multitude of related two-word combinations: Basic Instinct, uncrossed legs, sex kitten, bleach blonde, sexy vamp, Komodo dragon, et cetera. Hot off the heels of her successful turn as a naughty bisexual with an ice pick fetish in the aforementioned film, Stone decided to continue to play to her strengths and star in another role that required little talent and even less clothing, Sliver.
This marks the second time that I have had the honor of watching Sliver. I only had the vaguest recollections from my first viewing, and I thought this new unrated version could be something interesting. Now I know why I don't remember the film: I must have tried to block it from my memory.
Facts of the Case
Carly Norris (Stone) is an editor for Sutton Publishing. A vacancy opens up for an apartment in the Sliver Building in New York, and the owner quickly approves her application. Soon upon moving in, she learns that the former occupant committed suicide by jumping off the balcony of the twentieth-floor apartment. What's more disturbing to Carly is that everyone tells her she's the spitting image of the deceased.
Still reeling from a divorce after seven unhappy years of marriage, Carly has become a bit isolated and introverted. She works to break that habit in her new abode, as all the tenants are very friendly, especially her fashion model neighbor Vida, author Jack (Tom Berenger, Major League), and Zeke (William Baldwin, Backdraft).
Soon enough, Carly finds herself attracted to both the younger Zeke and the older Jack. Unable to resist the younger man's charms, Carly agrees to exercise with Zeke, only to shift the exercise from a gym to his bedroom.
Yet all is not well in the Sliver Building. Carly learns of the curse of the building in that there have been many unexplained deaths in the residence. The former tenant of her apartment was not the last; more people end up dying under mysterious circumstances.
What is going on in the Sliver Building? Does it have to do anything with Carly? For, unbeknownst to her, someone is watching her—and all the other residents. The Sliver Building has hundreds of hidden cameras, and someone is quite the voyeur.
For an erotic romp in the land of voyeurism, this is one limp escapade. After the sheer raunchiness and debauchery of Basic Instinct, Stone's foray here seems almost G rated—as long as you ignore her breasts, bottom, and rocking gyrations on top of William Baldwin.
Surprisingly, Sliver is based on a book of the same name by Ira Levin (author of Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives). I can't say I've read that fine piece of work, but I don't think much was lost in the translation. The overall word on the book is that it's "a flimsy novel" by an author "who was slumming." Ouch! Seeing as the screenplay was then adapted by Joe Eszterhas (need I say Showgirls?), I'm not sure if the quality of the material actually went up or down.
In either case, Sliver is a bad and boring movie. Practically every detail, every plot contrivance, every ounce of acting can be torn apart as uninspired, unoriginal, uninviting, and sucky. If you come in wanting an intelligent thriller, then you won't find it here. If you come in wanting an exciting drama, then you won't find it here. If you come in looking for nail-biting suspense, then you won't find it here. If you admit you've come just for the T&A, then what you get isn't worth the effort. Sliver fails on every front.
Let's pretend that the entirety of Sliver is not supposed to hinge on sex and voyeurism. Allow us a moment to venture into what is supposed to be the heart of any film: writing and acting. The two must work hand in hand to create a quality piece of work. One cannot compensate for the loss of the other. If both fail, there is no hope. And that is what happens in Sliver. Both the writing and the acting are tepid and weak. It's one idea stretched 100 minutes too far, pulled along by the merest fancy of an idea. The dark fetish of voyeurism wants to spark unease, but watching Zeke watch others does not titillate or make you think. Why does he really do it? Why does he want to bring Carly into the fold? These are unanswered questions because the script doesn't care. His being a Peeping Tom is just an excuse for the audience to see more breasts.
The script also doesn't care about the characters. On the whole, not one of the characters is fleshed out. They are merely one-dimensional extrapolations of an animate object. No time was spent to make these people real, and, again, they are there merely to serve the purpose of showing the viewer more breasts. As the main character, Carly is the worst example of this. We go from lonely Carly to flighty Carly to scared Carly to impulsive Carly, all without motivation or reason. And when Carly disdainfully says "Get a life," you immediately want to fire back, "Get a real movie."
This bare-bones disc marks the second release of Sliver on DVD. The big selling point this time around is obviously the bonus material—that is, the extra couple of minutes of unrated footage. I can't tell you exactly what has been cut back in. Were I to speculate, it would probably be a lot of that rhythmic bouncing Carly does with Zeke. Now with the big moniker of "Unrated" blazing forth from the packaging, many a horny, infatuated (young) man will scramble to see more Sharon Stone. Don't scramble. In truth, there's not all that much to see.
The transfer on the DVD is a bit of the proverbial mixed bag. On the video side, I have to say I am not completely certain of the correct aspect ratio of the film. The packaging doesn't list it, and the only ratio I could find anywhere said it was 2.35:1. By my eye on my set, that it incorrect. I am hypothesizing it is closer to 2.00:1 anamorphic, but that is, again, just an informed guess. The print is clear, without any dirt, scratches, or marks. It is also free of any significant defects. Colors are well presented with an accurate palette, but there is a problem with the blacks. I found the contrast to be too dark, leaving too much shadow throughout the movie. This reduced detail and sharpness, also causing colors to feel not as rich and bold as they could be. This darkness could have been intentional, an attempt to add atmosphere and discretion for Stone's nudity; however, if that's the case, why did they then make it far too easy to ascertain the amount of hair on Baldwin's butt? (Too much, in case you want to know.) On the audio side, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track does a fine job with the dialogue, effects, and music. You'll find accurate aural reproduction without any distortion.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Speaking of music, almost the best part of Sliver is Enigma's "Carly's Song," used during the opening title sequence. It's an unusual piece of music for the film, which makes it all the more odd how it surpasses the film in every level of measurable quality.
Let's see, do I recommend this one or not? Is Sliver worth your valuable time and precious money? No. This lukewarm potboiler is a pathetic attempt to cash in on Stone's sexy notoriety, but it's a complete misfire. If you want to see a naked Sharon Stone, then watch Basic Instinct. If you want a quality thriller with sexual overtones, then rent anything from Dressed to Kill to Poison Ivy. If you want to see William Baldwin's hairy butt, then I guess you're stuck with Sliver.
Sliver is hereby found guilty of gross sexual imposition. It is sentenced to 20 years.
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