Flatliners (1990)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Oliver Pratt

I find it truly amazing how one's perception of a movie can change over time. When "Flatliners" first came out in 1990 I thought it was not nearly as good a film as I had hoped for. It was okay. When the DVD appeared years after that I never even gave it much of a look. Now appearing on Blu-Ray it had been so long that I last saw the film that I decided to give it a check-up and I am glad I did because I enjoyed it a lot more than I did 17 years ago.

"Flatliners" tells the story of a group of medical students who are fascinated by death. One of the group, Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland) has an ambitious but also extremely dangerous plan. In order to find out what happens after we die, he wants to shut down his body the way it would in a serious case of hypothermia for example and then after a short time have his friends revive him. If it works, he would know first-hand what it is like in the Beyond, and if he fails, well, he would be dead.

After Nelson successfully undergoes his experiment and comes back with visions from the netherworld, his classmates are eager to do the same. One after one they decide to flatline and visit the realm of death for increasingly longer periods of time.

But their dangerous experiments carry a hefty price. Something within each of the flatliners changes as memories bubble to the surface and suddenly take on shape and from in their real worlds. The horrors of their past are suddenly walking among them.

Wonderfully cast with then-young and aspiring actors such as Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin and Oliver Pratt, the film is dark, sinister and foreboding as the situation becomes increasingly frightening for each of the participants. Also the set pieces are remarkable. Using an old hospital that resembles more a church than a hospital the film serves up a strong gothic look that suits the subject matter very well. Combined with the colorful cinematography, "Flatliners" is an atmospheric film throughout.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is presenting Joel Schumacher's "Flatliners" in a 1080p high definition transfer on this Blu-Ray Disc that restores the movie's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the transfer as it is absolutely free of speckles or grain. It is razor sharp and holds an incredible level of detail. Even in the dark night time shots the movie manages to maintain detail throughout with deep shadows and solid blacks. Edges are well delineated but never exaggerated, giving the image an incredible look at times that reminds you ever so often why you bought high definition equipment in the first place. Colors are striking and immaculately rich without bleeding, adding to the film's look and atmosphere.

Sony has also included an uncompressed 5.1 PCM audio track on the release that reflects the audio master of the film without any changes. As such it is barely surprising that the presentation is top notch and leaves nothing to be desired. Combined with James Newton Howard's often-haunting score, the audio presentation is balanced and very active in the surrounds. In addition, Sony is providing 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks in English and French, which are also very good and provide a clear presentation with a proper sound balance.

The only thing that disappoints about this release a little is the lack of extras, as there are none.

The theme of retribution, which is what "Flatliners" is ultimately about, is what made the film so much more appealing to me than it did in 1990. Maybe you simply have to have lived long enough to reach a certain point in live where we reflect on things we have done or experienced throughout our lives.

"Flatliners" makes an impressive showing on this Blu-Ray release. While without bonus materials, the feature film itself looks wonderfully rich and detailed and – for me at least – works better today than it did 17 years ago. Check it out. You may feel the same.