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Joel Schumacher
Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon
Writing Credits:
Peter Filardi

Five medical students experiment with "near death" experiences, until the dark consequences of past tragedies begin to jeopardize their lives.

Box Office:
$26 million.
Opening Weekend
$10,034,685 on 1319 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 8/2/202

• Audio Commentary with Critics Bryan Reesman and Max Evry
• “The Conquest of Our Generation” Featurette
• “Visions of Light” Featurette
• “Hereafter” Featurette
• “Restoration” Featurette
• “Atonement” Featurette
• “Dressing for Character” Featurette
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Flatliners: Limited Edition [Blu-Ray] (1990)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 19, 2022)

1990 became a big summer for dead people on movie screens. Most memorably, Ghost turned into a massive hit, one that ended up in second place for the year behind Home Alone.

While not as successful, Flatliners found a pretty decent audience as well. With a hot young cast, its $61 million US didn’t quite live up to expectations, but the movie still became a moderate success.

Medical school student Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland) becomes obsessed with attempts to learn what happens after death. In that vein, he decides to conduct an experiment in which his classmates will cause him to die and then bring him back to life after one minute.

Though his peers view this as a one-way ticket to the morgue, they go along with it anyway, and it works. Nelson “flatlines” for 60 seconds and then returns with claims of visions from his childhood.

Though initially skeptical, this wins over his friends and they want to go through their own “flatline” experiences. As each one pushes the length of time they remain dead further and further, they risk real danger and other unforeseen consequences.

Though Michael Bay seems to remain the film buff’s go-to pick for the ultimate “style over substance” director, I think Joel Schumacher gives him a serious run for his money. I won’t pick a “winner” between the two, though I do wonder if Bay’s career could’ve existed without the way that Schumacher paved the way.

I tend to think less of Schumacher as a filmmaker because Bay rarely displayed delusions of cinematic grandeur. With only a few exceptions, Bay seems to know that he makes popcorn flicks without serious dramatic aspirations.

On the other hand, Schumacher created more than a few flicks that shot for more than just one-dimensional fun and thrills. In 1985, St. Elmo’s Fire allowed Schumacher to pursue “voice of a generation” material ala The Big Chill, but all Schumacher managed was a fluffy piece of soap opera nonsense.

Flatliners gets into even deeper territory – in theory, at least. In reality, Schumacher just makes yet another glossy tale without any substance.

This seems like a massive misfire, as the issues of Flatliners come with real potential. We could - and should – find a tale that explores its notions in a meaningful, thought-provoking manner.

But that wouldn’t fit the stylized Schumacher palette, so instead, we find a movie that usually feels like a long music video. Rather than give the movie the needed sense of realism Schumacher brings us a moody, atmospheric piece that never connects with the material.

Honestly, if Flatliners hadn’t hit screens less than a month after Ghost, you’d assume Schumacher attempted to emulate the latter. Flatliners offers a semi-dreamy feel that evokes the tone of Ghost enough to make comparisons inevitable.

Though I never much liked Ghost, I think its atmospheric choices work for it, but they seem less logical for Flatliners. The subject matter demands a grittier, darker take.

Schumacher art directs Flatliners to the umpteenth degree and places the movie in a strange Art Deco world that makes little sense within the movie’s universe. Again, this story seems like something that requires a bracing, reality-based feel, whereas Schumacher instead stages the film in a manner similar to the horror fantasy of his 1987 hit The Lost Boys.

Flatliners does provide a pretty impressive cast. In addition to Sutherland, we find Julia Roberts hot on the huge success of Pretty Woman as well as Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt.

All try their best to bring some life to their underwritten characters and the frothy shenanigans, but they can’t do much to make it work. The actors emote, emote and emote some more, all in the service of a story that doesn’t really care about their roles.

That’s because Flatliners becomes just another superficial and insubstantial cog in the Schumacher machine. The man made some decent movies over his career, but Flatliners doesn’t turn into one of them.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Flatliners appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a generally positive presentation.

Sharpness seemed fairly good. Some softness interfered at times – mainly during dimly-lit interiors – but overall delineation appeared largely solid.

No jaggies or moiré effects occurred, and no edge haloes appeared. Light grain manifested through the film and I noticed no print flaws.

Colors went down a highly stylized path, with a lot of amber/gold/orange on display as well as a fair amount of blues and pink/red for Rachel’s flashbacks. The hues looked well-depicted for these choices.

Blacks looked deep and dense, while shadows seemed reasonably concise, though as mentioned, some low-light shots could be a bit murky. Overall, this became a good presentation for a movie from 1990.

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack also held up pretty well over the years, with a soundfield that emphasized general moody atmosphere. This meant the score broadened to all five channels on a regular basis.

For the most part, effects remained in this vein, though a few “action” scenes opened up the spectrum a bit. This felt like an appropriate soundfield for a tale like this.

Audio quality worked fine, with dialogue that usually seemed natural and concise. Effects could run a little rough at times, but those elements mostly came across as accurate and robust.

Most turned into the strongest element, as the score felt vivid and full. Though nothing impressive, this was a nice mix given the film’s age.

How did the 2022 Blu-ray compare to the prior BD release? The lossless 5.1 mix offered considerable improvements over the old disc’s lossy stereo material in terms of both soundscape and quality.

Visuals showed obvious improvements as well. The 2022 disc came across considerably better defined, cleaner, more natural than the problematic older release, and its stylized palette became more dynamic than the brownish hue found on the prior version. This turned into a huge upgrade.

Though the prior Blu-ray included no extras, the 2022 version delivers a bunch, and we open with an audio commentary from critics Bryan Reesman and Max Evry. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and crew, production notes, interpretation/criticism, notes about the sequel and related domains.

We encounter a few rough spots early in the track, as it takes Reesman and Evry some time to gel. For instance, in the middle of Evry’s discussion of Beth Grant, Reesman begins to chat about Julia Roberts, and the shift jars so much that it briefly confuses Evry – and the viewer.

The pair click better before long, though, and they create a largely enjoyable piece. We get a pretty good luck at the movie in this mainly engaging conversation.

A bunch of video features follow, and The Conquest of Our Generation runs 19 minutes, 11 seconds. It brings a 2021 interview with screenwriter Peter Filardi.

The piece covers the origins of the screenplay as well as its creation and aspects of the production. Filardi offers good insights related to these domains.

Visions of Light goes for 18 minutes, 23 seconds and brings circa 2021 comments from director of photography Jan de Bont and chief lighting technician Edward Ayer. Shot separately, they examine cinematography and other visual design elements in this highly informative reel.

Next comes Hereafter, another 2021 piece. It spans 14 minutes, 22 seconds and features 1st AD John Kretchmer.

He discusses what led him to movies, the job of the 1st AD, and his work on Flatliners. Kretchmer delivers another engaging piece.

Restoration goes for 10 minutes, 27 seconds and brings 2021 notes from production designer Eugenio Zanetti and art director Larry Lundy. Recorded separately, they discuss sets, locations and visual design in this brief but worthwhile segment.

With Atonement, we find an 11-minute, 35-second reel that includes composer James Newton Howard and orchestrator Chris Boardman. Shot individually in 2021, they talk about the movie’s music and give us a nice collection of details.

Dressing for Character spans six minutes, 26 seconds and delivers circa 2021 remarks from costume designer Susan Becker. She tells us about her work on the film and turns this into another informative featurette.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc concludes with an Image Gallery. It presents a mere 12 photos and seems superfluous.

Given the intense philosophical questions it raises, Flatlienrs could’ve been a rich, evocative look at life after death. Instead, director Joel Schumacher treated the material in the most superficial manner possible, a choice that turned the movie into a glossy, silly affair. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as a nice collection of bonus materials. While I like this release, the movie doesn’t work for me.

To rate this film visit the prior review of FLATLINERS

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