• Flatliners (Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: September 26th, 2017.
    Director: Joel Schumacher
    Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, William Baldwin
    Year: 1984
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    The Movies:

    Directed by Joel Schumacher in 1990, Flatliners follows five students enrolled in medical school: Nelson (Keifer 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 bad movie, in fact it's 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 arrives on Blu-ray from Mill Creek on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up approximately 34GBs of space. For the most part, the transfer here is solid if a tad soft in spots. There might be some mild DNR here, but it’s mild and not a distraction. The picture is pristine, there’s no print damage here at all, and color reproduction looks good, though this is a fairly dark picture in terms of its color scheme.

    Audio chores are handled nicely by the disc’s 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. Again, no complaints. There’s decent channel separation here, the dialogue stays clean, clear and easy t follow and the score has good range and depth. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    There are no extras on the disc to note, aside from menus and chapter selection, but as this is a combo pack release we get a DVD version of the movie included as well.

    Worth noting, however, is the steelbook packaging. Mill Creek places the two discs inside a pretty slick looking steelbook case that features the interior and exterior art seen in the photographs below. This case fits inside a nice acetate slipcover – it’s pretty cool.

    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. Mill Creek’s Blu-ray release is barebones but it offers the film up in a good presentation and with some pretty fancy packaging!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!