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Flatliners (Arrow Recommends)

Flatliners (Arrow Recommends)
09.20.2017by: The Arrow
7 10


"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: A group of medical students try to crack the mystery behind death by having their hearts stopped for a certain amount of time and then being revived to tell the tale. How does it go? Lets just say that once brought back - they don't come back "alone". Tum, tum, tum!

“Philosophy failed. Religion failed. Now it's up to the physical sciences. " - Nelson

LOWDOWN: With the FLATLINERS reboot on the verge of release, it inspired me to give the 1990 original (WATCH IT HERE) another round! I dug it when I saw it in theaters way back then and I’m in a tizzy to say that I enjoyed it again today 27 years later! In fact, I got to appreciate some of its more novel aspects even further as a more mature and seasoned film-goer. But before I get into that drivel, here’s how this watch went down!

You gotta hand it to FLATLINERS (Blu-Ray right here), as its initial premise was as unique as they come (kudos to screenwriter Peter Filardi). Stopping your own heart to go see wassup on the other side and then having yourself be revived to tell the tale is a stroke of genius IMO. I am actually surprised that it hasn’t been attempted in real life! And old- school Joel Schumacher was definitely the ideal chap to bring this wild and trippy tale to life. Backed up by talented Production Designer Eugenio Zanetti and killer Director of Photography Jan De Bont; Schumacher went on to offer a visual feast to be reckoned with. The lad had said this in an interview: "I told Eugenio and Jan that I wanted us all to take risks, to create our own world. This isn't a documentary. It's a fable and a fantasy, and in some ways a science fiction movie. So I wanted to surround it with a very visually exciting and interesting world."

Well watching the film today I can safely say that the gamble paid off. I mucho esteemed the time/effort that went in the wild look of the picture (Gothic architecture, varied Greek/Roman historical/religious imagery) and its surreal lighting (the use of red, blue and varied neons really gave me an eye full). In fact one of my favorite scenes from the film which had to do with demonic faces graffiti-ed on the wall and a graduating change of lighting to represent an incoming threat ALONE was worth seeing this flick again. At the time, they called it rock video pretentious – today – well I call it ambitious and f*cking masterful. Moreover, the slew of wild and innovative camera movements, the majestic aerial shots (loved the one in the snowy mountains), the eerie atmosphere and the potent use of slow motion contributed to the impact of the imagery too.

Another upside for FLATLINERS was its stellar young cast. When the characterization would falter (like in the case of Julia Roberts character for example), the actors would gap what was missing via their talent and presence. Kiefer Sutherland (the wild a-hole), Julia Roberts (the silent yet gorgeous gal), William Baldwin (the player), Oliver Platt (the comic relief) and Kevin Bacon (the straight man) all owned in their roles and made for quite the heavy hitting ensemble. Add to all that jive, random suspense, slick dialogue (You bring the equipment, I'll bring my balls.) a solid score by James Newton Howard (loved it when he went full choral on my ass), solid rock tunes (dug  "Party Town" by Dave Stewart and the Spiritual Cowboys) and a pace that was quicker/easier than me after a couple of drinks and you get a solid genre film, one that was okay on paper but was elevated by the creative minds behind the lens and the thespians in front of it!

On that, my biggest peeve with FLATLINERS (and I’m gonna try to not spoil it for people who will visit it for the first time after they see the re-do) is that what came back with our leads after visiting Death’s closet wasn’t as hardcore as it should have been concept wise. Sure it still managed to work with some of the characters because of the severity of their individual cases. But it tanked with others. I mean they could have found something a tad more threathening for Kevin Bacon’s role (Ouuuu you;’re being cussed at, ouuuu) and William Baldwin’s character (seeing hot chicks everywhere – tough racket) – it came off a bit too weak to rattle. Finally I wish the film would have gone deeper into its themes (so much to explore when it comes to death and its ties to theology...) and embraced its horror elements more whole heartily – it all felt a little too "safe-horror" taking into account the subject matter and  R Rating.

In closing, I’ve always dug FLATLINERS (and I respect it even more after this watch due to its superior aesthetics) and I had written off the reboot. That’s until I discovered 3 things. 1- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev is behind it. 2- It’s will also work as a sequel (Sutherland’s Nelson character makes a comeback). 3- If I go by the trailer, it will expand on the ideas that the original laid out and for me that’s a good thing. Lets see! Till then, pickle your brains and tap this sucka! It always comes through!

Extra Tidbit: AITH, arrow in the head, flatliners, joel schumacher, arrow recommends, the arrow recommends, kiefer surtherland, kevin bacon, julia roberts, horror, thriller, death, william baldwin

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