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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO
Director:
Adrian Lyne
Cast:
Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala
Writing Credits:
Thomas Hedley Jr., Joe Eszterhas

Synopsis:
A Pittsburgh woman with two jobs as a welder and an exotic dancer wants to get into ballet school.

MPAA:
Rated R.

Box Office:
Budget
$7 million.
Opening Weekend
$4,076,124 on 1140 screens.
Domestic Gross
$92,921,203.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Description
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 5/19/2020

Bonus:
• “Filmmaker Focus” Featurette
• “The Look of Flashdance” Featurette
• “Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon” Featurette
• Trailer


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RELATED REVIEWS


Flashdance (Paramount Presents Edition) [Blu-Ray] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 5, 2020)

Movies don’t get much more definitively and stereotypically “Eighties” than 1983’s Flashdance. Who can see legwarmers – a fashion trend inspired by the film – and not immediately think of that decade?

Set in Pittsburgh, 18-year-old Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) maintains two different lives. During the day, she works as a welder at a steel mill, but at night, she performs as a dancer at a club.

In her heart, Alex dreams of something greater, and she aspires to ballet training and a career in that field. That takes her on a challenging path.

As Alex pursues this seemingly improbable goal, she also enters a romance with Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri), the owner of the steel mill. Though she feels reluctant to get involved with the boss, her emotions guide her as she attempts to balance her love life with her career goals.

I was 16 when Flashdance hit the screens, and I recalled it more as a success in terms of fashion – those legwarmers, the sweatshirts worn off the shoulder – and music than as a movie. Oh, I knew the film made money, but in my memory, those ticket sales seemed secondary to its impact elsewhere.

Apparently 37-year-old recollections proved faulty, as a look at 1983 charts shows Flashdance became a considerable hit. While it couldn’t quite crack the $100 million mark in the US, its $92 million allowed it to become the third highest-grossing flick of the year.

First place went to mega-smash Return of the Jedi, whereas Tears of Endearment found its way to second. Given its tear-jeaker story, Terms seems like an odd flick to earn the silver for 1983, but at least it enjoyed major stars.

On the other hand, Flashdance came from a largely untested director and a cast of unknowns. Very much of its time, it managed to both milk trends and prompt its own.

None of which make it an actual good movie, and 37 years later, the flaws seem more apparent than they did back in 1983. In particular, Flashdance shows the influence of music videos, and not in a positive way.

1983 was a massive year for videos, back when they became truly mainstream and a large impact on music sales. Flashdance borrows from those visual and editing techniques in a manner that probably seemed fresh back then.

Circa 2020, however, these choices feel less inspired and they come across more as window-dressing to hide the movie’s inherent flimsiness. Make no mistake: Flashdance offers the thinnest of plots, one that consists more of story points than an actual narrative with fleshed-out characters.

To a considerable degree, Flashdance feels like a female-oriented remake of another cultural sensation, 1977’s Saturday Night Fever. Both focused on working class leads who aspired to a better life through dance, and they also focused heavily on musical sequences.

The difference comes from the execution. Whereas Fever involved well-drawn characters, Flashdance never bothers with anything beyond thin clichés. Alex offers nothing more than the nice girl who wants to get ahead, and Nick doesn’t even get that much development.

While Fever’s Tony follows a clear arc, Alex just kind of meanders. We get less of a sense that she follows a particular path toward her goals, as instead she simply wanders from one vaguely-connected scene to another with little coherence or logic.

In addition, Fever used its music and dance to advance the characters and plot, whereas these exist as entities unto themselves in Flashdance. Almost none of the musical segments appear as anything other than music videos plopped into the middle of the movie.

And I mean that nearly literally, as Flashdance often grinds to a halt so we can watch Alex and/or her pals frolic to pop tunes. Our intro to Alex as a nightclub dancer makes sense, but otherwise, these sequences act as nothing more than flashy filler.

As such, we find ourselves with a pointless workout montage, and we also get stuck with a nightclub routine from one of Alex's friends. It’s like the filmmakers got bored with the “story” and decided they needed an unrelated music video to spice up the proceedings.

At its heart, Flashdance boasts a simple, straightforward plot, but it gets so hung up on pointless tangents that it never connects. We find ourselves stuck with supporting roles and random themes, none of which do much to expand the basic narrative.

A fairly lackluster cast doesn’t help – especially at the top, where Beals seems bland and unconvincing as Alex. She displays precious little personality and never makes Alex seem like a real person.

The more experienced Nouri does a little better with his underwritten role, but he doesn’t seem particularly compelling either. Beals and Nouri exhibit little chemistry and form a dull couple.

It doesn’t help that the movie uses a hilariously obvious “dance double” for Alex’s climactic audition. Not for one second do we believe Beals does her own performance there, and the disconnect makes this “big moment” laughable.

Why did we like this movie so much in 1983? I can’t figure it out, as Flashdance becomes nothing more than a boring collection of musical scenes in search of a compelling story.


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

Flashdance appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Despite some weaknesses, this became a mostly good presentation.

Sharpness was generally fine, though occasional instances of mild softness materialized. Some of this stemmed from the source, but the image also felt a little “processed” at times, and that added to the mild lack of definition.

Though Flashdance came with a decent layer of grain, I suspected a bit of noise reduction on display – not a lot, but some, and this could slightly decrease accuracy. Again, the image largely looked pretty concise, but anticipate some exceptions.

I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. I saw no instances of print flaws.

Although Flashdance maintained a fairly subdued palette to match its gritty blue collar setting, the various colors appeared well-rendered. Sporadic instances of brighter tones looked appealing, and the rest of the semi-somber presentation appeared appropriate for the story.

Blacks were tight and dark, and shadows tended to appear appropriately dense as well. Even with the movie’s inherent “80s-ness”, this became a fairly appealing transfer.

I also felt fairly pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Flashdance, though for the most part, the soundfield offered a subdued affair. Music showed nice stereo imaging, and the movie featured a decent sense of ambience.

Not too many scenes broadened beyond that general feeling of environment, but the track opened up to a reasonable degree when appropriate. Various street, club and steel mill scenes worked well, and the songs fleshed out the speakers well.

Audio quality felt good. Speech seemed natural, and music showed positive clarity and range.

Effects appeared clear and accurate, though they also never stood out as especially memorable. Though nothing here dazzled, the mix worked well for a character drama.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get three featurettes. New to the 2020 release, Filmmaker Focus runs five minutes, 51 seconds and brings info from director Adrian Lyne.

He discusses dancing, visual and musical choices, cast, and legacy. Don’t expect much from this lackluster overview.

The Look of Flashdance goes for nine minutes, 12 seconds and includes notes from Lyne, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, editor Bud Smith, associate producer Lynda Obst, costume designer Michael Kaplan, and actors Michael Nouri and Kyle T. Heffner.

As implied by the title, “Look” covers sets and locations, story and characters, photography, costumes and visual design. “Look” becomes a reasonably informative reel.

Finally, Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon spans eight minutes, 52 seconds and provides remarks from Lyne, Bruckheimer, Smith, Nouri, Heffner, Obst, music supervisor Phil Ramone and composer Giorgio Moroder.

“Releasing” covers editing, the film’s release, success and legacy. Though a bit self-congratulatory, the featurette provides a few good notes.

A major pop sensation in 1983, Flashdance shows its age decades later. Superficial, dull and downright silly at times, the movie fares poorly. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio as well as a smattering of bonus features. A dated relic, Flashdance doesn’t hold up over the years.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.25 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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21:
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