What a feeling. Flashdance is a prime slice of Eighties cheese, right down to the Giorgio Moroder score and the (admittedly) iconic wardrobe donned by Jennifer Beals. Oh, and the songs: Irene Cara's "Flashdance ... What a Feeling," Michael Sembello's "Maniac" ... the impact of Flashdance upon pop culture has been profound; everyone from Jennifer Lopez to the funny fellas in Stella have referenced or riffed off of the now-iconic imagery found in Adrian Lyne's flick.
But, um, here's the thing: Flashdance, as a movie taken on its own terms, kinda sucks. Penned by Tom Hedley and Joe Eszterhas (little wonder some of the plot hinges on female nudity, eh Joe?) and directed by Lyne, who would go on helm some of the decade's steamier features (9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction), it's the tale of an 18-year-old welder Alexandra, or Alex, Owens (played by the nubile Beals in her breakout role) who dreams of dancing professionally, but is forced to slug it out in the nudie bars of Pittsburgh. Ah, the romance of film. Enter the much older Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri), who learns of Alex's desire to secure a spot at the prestigious Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance. So on and so forth -- to their credit (and not to spoil too much), the filmmakers leave the question of whether or not Alex achieves her dream very much up in the air at the film's conclusion.
Probably my biggest problem (aside from the really lame script) is that Flashdance really heralds the arrival of producer Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer's flashy, glib aesthetic that would reach its peak (or nadir, depending upon your point of view) with his next two efforts, 1984's Beverly Hills Cop and 1986's Top Gun. Some critics have pointed to the rise of MTV as an equal part of the problem and indeed, it's hard to watch Flashdance's sort of self-contained, music video-like sequences and not think of the ADD-afflicted cinema of the modern day. Nevertheless, my gripes about the film's numerous weak spots aren't going to deter its fans; Flashdance has secured its place in cinematic and cultural history.
First released on a relatively bare-bones disc in 2002, this fresh edition of Flashdance sports a few worthwhile extras, and for obsessive fans of the film, definitely merits a once-over. The DVD
The spruced-up 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks excellent throughout, particularly in the strip club sequences, which feature a stage ringed with vivid neon lights. Skin tones and black levels are solid and no major blemishes are evident. A very clean, clear visual presentation. The Audio:
Those Eighties pop songs thump to life on the Dolby Digital 5.1 track; bass response is great and the limp dialogue sounds clear. A French Dolby 2.0 track is included, as are Spanish and Portuguese mono tracks. Optional English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are also onboard. The Extras:
Sadly, no commentary from Lyne or the writers (and an AWOL Beals, for that matter) but a few mildly informative featurettes are included: the 14 minute, 41 second "The History of Flashdance" features new interviews with Lyne, Bruckheimer, producer Lynda Obst and actors Nouri and Hefner; the nine minute, 12 second "The Look of Flashdance" explores the film's distinctive visual style; the six minute, 13 second "Flashdance Music and Songs" examines the classic score and soundtrack; the 10 minute, nine second "Flashdance: The Choreography" details the roots of those sassy dance moves while the eight minute, 52 second "Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon" covers exactly that. The Flashdance teaser and theatrical trailer, presented in anamorphic widescreen, along with a trailer for Dreamgirls completes the disc. A second disc, a six-track CD (which includes "Flashdance ... What a Feeling," "Manhunt," "He's a Dream," "Lady Lady Lady," "Romeo" and "Maniac") completes the set. Final Thoughts:
What a feeling. Flashdance is a prime slice of Eighties cheese, right down to the Giorgio Moroder score and the (admittedly) iconic wardrobe donned by Jennifer Beals. Oh, and the songs: Irene Cara's "Flashdance (What a Feeling)," Michael Sembello's "Maniac" ... the impact of Flashdance upon pop culture has been profound; everyone from Jennifer Lopez to the funny fellas in Stella have referenced or riffed off of the now-iconic imagery found in Adrian Lyne's flick. I may not care for the film, but this DVD is worth checking out for its devoted fans. Recommended.