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Flatliners (Arrow Video) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Flatliners (Arrow Video) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: August 2nd, 2022.
    Director: Joel Schumacher
    Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, William Baldwin
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Amazon

    Flatliners – Movie Review:

    Directed by Joel Schumacher in 1990, Flatliners follows five students enrolled in medical school: Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland), Doctor Rachel McMannus (Julia Roberts), David Labraccio (Kevin Bacon), Doctor Joe Hurley (William Baldwin), and Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt). They're involved in some unorthodox experiments spearheaded by Nelson in which they will work together to find out what is out there after we die. To do this, Nelson convinces the other four to kill him but then to bring him back immediately after via resuscitation. Surprisingly enough, it works, and after Nelson proves that it can be done, the other four start wondering if they shouldn't take the trip themselves.

    And so they do. Each member of the group has their own motivation for this death tripping, be it to further expand their medical research or simply to gratify their own fragile ego. As these experiments continue they evolve in that those who are quite literally put to death are allowing themselves to stay dead for longer and longer periods of time before having their colleagues resuscitate them. What they soon realize, however, is that by pushing the envelope in this way they're going to have to come face to face with their own issues and that there may be more coming back with them than any of them could have possibly imagined.

    Written by Peter Filardi, the man who would write The Craft a few years later, Flatliners does a decent enough job of telling its story. It's a very dark looking picture that has a strange visual style to it but at the same time, the look is both appropriate for and complimentary to the story being told (and in a lot of ways it is very reminiscent of the director's work on The Lost Boys). As our students, all almost falling victim to Nelson's charismatic encouraging of this 'flatlining' experiment they're all now a part of, go further and further with this they confront demons internal and otherwise. They learn about themselves, how their past has shaped them, but so too do they get a rush from the experience. Are they scientists or adrenaline junkies? This builds quite well and as it does, there's a decent amount of suspense to enjoy. As the movie comes closer to its climax, however, it begins to feel more and more like all of this was created simply to offer up a gimmicky twist ending, one that is not only easy to see coming but which definitely caters to the lowest common denominator. For a movie about voyaging between life and death and which tackles the uneasy subject of the afterlife, it proves to be fairly gutless in how it delivers its take on all of this (and yeah, that might be vague, but we're avoiding unnecessary spoilers here).

    The cast of A-list stars do well enough with the material, but no one here is cast against type. Sutherland is the ringleader here and he plays the part well. It's easy to see how the others would be coaxed into going along with him on what is, in all reality, a pretty reckless endeavor. Roberts is the pretty smart girl, no stretch for her there, though there are some scenes where she rises above and creates some decent character here. Platt is Platt, he's the goofy one of the bunch but so too is he quite smart while Kevin Bacon and William Baldwin play slightly more generic characters, though they too do fine with the material given them. The cast all deliver fine work in this film.

    Flatliners isn't a terrible movie, in fact for most of its running time it is a pretty entertaining one that features some interesting production design and a strong soundtrack. It's paced well and it will easily hold most viewers' attention throughout. There's a lot of style here and it's a fun watch, it's just a shame that the finale lacks teeth. As such, it never quite reaches the potential shown in its first half.

    Flatliners – UHD Review:

    Flatliners arrives on UHD from Arrow Video on a 100GB disc in a 4k transfer of the original 35mm negative framed at 2.39.1 widescreen in an HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p with HDR and Dolby Vision enhancement. Restored in 4k from the film’s original 35mm negative approved by the film’s director of photography Jan de Bont. This transfer is quite strong, with excellent color reproduction that really does a nice job of showing off the film’s strong style and lighting. Detail is quite a bit stronger over past editions, there’s more depth and texture to the image in pretty much every frame, while the picture always looks like proper film, showing no obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement. The HDR makes the colors look gorgeous, and skin tones always look lifelike and natural. Compression artifacts are never a problem, even in the film’s many darker scenes, and it’s really hard to complain about the way that the movie looks on this UHD.

    Arrow offers audio options in 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo Master Audio tracks with removable subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 mix is the way to go here, it fills out the room really nicely with a strong low end and some great rear channel activity and surround usage. The stereo track, however, also sounds very good. Both options will give you clean and clear audio and are free from any hiss or distortion. Balance is fine throughout and there’s some good depth here as well.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by critics Bryan Reesman and Max Evry that covers all the bases, going over the history of the production and spending a fair bit of time covering Schumacher’s career up to this point. They go over the score and the look of the film and also offer up insight into the backgrounds of the different cast and crew members that worked on the picture in addition to offering some critical analysis of the picture along the way.

    As to the featurettes, The Conquest Of Our Generation is a new video interview with screenwriter Peter Filardi that runs nineteen minutes and sees him discuss his writing process, the inspiration for some of the scenes in the picture and his thoughts on the movie overall, as well as his background. Visions Of Light is a new video interview with director of photography Jan de Bont and chief lighting technician Edward Ayer that runs just over eighteen minutes. This piece is quite interesting as it covers the distinct look and visual style on display in the film and gives us some insight into how that was achieved. Hereafter is new video interview with first assistant director John Kretchmer that runs four fourteen minutes and covers his entry into the business and his collaborations with Schumacher on this picture. Restoration is a new video interview with production designer Eugenio Zanetti and art director Larry Lundy that goes over what they did on the production and what they tried to bring to the different sets that much of the movie plays off against, it runs just under eleven minutes. Atonement, a new video interview with composer James Newton Howard and orchestrator Chris Boardman, runs just under twelve minutes. It covers their work on the picture, what they tried to bring to the movie with their contributions to the film and some of the more subtle details that were worked into the music used in the picture. Lastly, Dressing For Character is a new interview with costume designer Susan Becker running just over six minutes that reviews how she came on board the project and what she brought to the film with her costuming work and choices. It would have been nice to get some insight from Schumacher or some of the cast members, but that didn’t happen – still, to Arrow’s credit, what’s here is interesting and those who want to know more about the film will be able to do just that by checking these featurettes out.

    Finishing up the extras is a theatrical trailer for the feature, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    As only test discs were supplied for review, we can’t comment on any packaging or insert material. Should finished retail product be made available, we’ll amend this review accordingly.

    Flatliners – The Final Word:

    Flatliners is far from a classic but it's entertaining enough if you keep your expectations in check. Though its flaws can sometimes be obvious, the storyline is decent enough to keep us involved and there is some suspense here even if it all falls apart in the end. Arrow’s UHD/Blu-ray combo pack release offers an excellent presentation and a nice selection of extra features that should please the movie’s fans.



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Flatliners Blu-ray screen caps!

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