Flatliners Blu-ray Review
The original filmmakers should have signed a DNR
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Niels Arden Oplev offers us an unnecessary remake of Flatliners which is better than it could have ended up being, but not by much.The original Brat Pack-era Flatliners wasn't exactly groundbreaking; it was a product of its time, playing with a semi-interesting premise and putting its assortment of then-famous faces through their paces with its psycho-supernatural plotting. Remaking it feels like just another notch on the tick-boxing list Hollywood uses to churn out its latest mid-tier production. And despite the presence of Oplev, and a reasonably game - if no-name - cast, it was highly unlikely that this was ever going to end up being particularly special, so it's no surprise really that it isn't. Once we get past that, and perhaps viewed through the lens of a direct-to-DVD film - which, in most ways, this really is - there is some enjoyment to be had from this generally ill-advised venture.It plays out like an extended episode of Grey's Anatomy, only one which takes a foray into the psychological/supernatural when a bunch of med students decide they want to see what happens after death. The biggest name on the cast list (beyond a cameo from the original's star, Kiefer Sutherland, whose character could have been better integrated into the narrative) is Ellen Page, who looks a decade too old for the part, with Rogue One's Diego Luna, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage's Nina Dobrev, and McMafia's James Norton following her down the rabbithole. There's nothing much original here, but it's surprisingly unobjectionable, and, even if that's faint praise, it's still more than anybody could have really expected from this particular remake.
Picture QualitySony bring Flatliners to UK shores with a Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
Even if the content never really elevates itself beyond DTV realms, the presentation sure does, delivering a slick and suitably perfected image that makes the most out of a fairly limited main setting and really embraces the otherwordly realms explored.
Even if the content never really elevates itself beyond DTV, the presentation does
Detail is generally very good indeed, shining a spotlight on the quintet of interns as they dice with death and the afterlife, providing excellent skin detail, clothing textures and background nuances despite the clinical background seldom affording much in the way of intricacy. The different afterlife visions afford a more imaginative edge (it's not exactly Coco, mind you) with streaks of neon, fiery oranges and ghostly blues, bringing some visual panache to the restrictive palette of the main hospital setting. Black levels round out a hard to fault presentation which may not quite be reference perfection, but is largely demo quality nonetheless, and certainly better than you'd expect for this film.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is almost as impressive as the video, affording the film some jolts of aural spark, again normally through the afterlife sequences, leaving the hospital duty only really aurally exciting when there's an emergency.
The audio is almost as impressive as the video
Dialogue gets firm prioritisation across the frontal array, delivered with clarity and coherence throughout, whilst effects lap up the beeping machines, whirring scanners, humming computers and jolting defib kits, delivering some aural nuance across the surrounds whilst occasionally engaging the LFE channel for some much-needed oomph. Again, the visions provide more clearly defined entertainment, as the generic score ups the ante and the trips to the afterlife take on increasingly horror-movie-esque vibes, bringing with them a suitable amount of tension and aural chaos. It's a strong offering, skirting demo territory.
ExtrasFar from bare bones
Far from bare-bones, the release also delivers a number of additional extras, with a quartet of featurettes - Just What the Director Ordered, Reviving a Cult Classic, Making the Rounds and The Ultimate Question looking at the director's work, the concept of remaking the 90s original, the new cast and characters, and a kind of frivolous 'would you flatline?' final featurette which poses the question to the main players. There's also a bevvy of Deleted Scenes, totaling an extra 12 minutes or so, and a few Previews to round off the disc.
Blu-ray VerdictThe original Flatliners may have been a Brat Pack fan favourite back in the day but it was never a classic, which, in some ways, should have given a remake a solid shot at improving on the original ideas. Unfortunately, this isn't much more than a straight-to-DVD production, but, on the other hand, if viewed like that, it's an above-average result which provides some degree of entertainment.
This isn't much more than a straight-to-DVD title with better production values
Sony's Region Free UK Blu-ray release of 2017's Flatliners affords the remake excellent video and audio and a few nice extras, leaving it a solid purchase for fans although everybody else may want to wait until this one pops up on a streaming service.
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