FLATLINERS, 1990

FLATLINERS MOVIE POSTER
FLATLINERS, 1990
Movie Reviews

Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Kimberly Scott
Review by Melissa R. Mendelson

SYNOPSIS:

Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.

NOMINATED for Best Special Effects OSCAR

REVIEW:

What is our fascination with death? What feeds our need to know more? Is it fear that there is nothing waiting on the other side, or is it wonder to know if life exists beyond life? What drives our imagination to create so many movies based on death, and why must we feel drawn to watching and hearing every story made and written? What really lies deep within our fascination?

With every step into this world, we experience life. Mistakes made and that could never be changed haunt us. Loved ones leave us too soon, and some still carry the blame of not doing enough, not being there, and living on beyond them. Taking every moment for granted and breaking all the rules is one road many take, but how far will they reach toward the end? The definition of life is the sum of all of our experiences, but once we experience death, what would define us then?

The hunger to know what really lies beyond, to prove that life still exists after death fuels one man’s bold experiment to cross that divide. Pulling a team of young, talented minds together, one doctor, Nelson puts the question to the test and places his life literally on the line. The sound of his heart races along the monitor, and minutes later… Flatline.

After a brief struggle to regain his life, the team succeeds in bringing Nelson back to the world of the living, but what they don’t realize is that he does not return alone. And one after another, members of the team take turns “walking on the moon” and experiencing life beyond death, but one by one, they discover that their amazing adventure comes with a heavy price. And there is no turning back.

The past has always stayed one footstep behind, but when you experience death, it now walks ahead but then turns around to stare you right in the face. All the mistakes that you could never erase wait to strike back. All your selfish, ruthless acts wait to taunt you. All the ones that you wronged get their revenge, and “in the end, we all know what we have done.”

The question of is there life after death has been answered, but what about all your sins let loose upon your life? How do you take back the past? How can you fight death?

Redemption. Face the past. Confront yourself. Admit being wrong and pay the price, but how can you, if the one you wronged is dead? Where do you go from there?

For one member of the team, opportunity reveals itself in her darkest moment. The blame that Rachel carried over her father’s death brings her face to face with the man that now haunts her, and no matter how hard she fights to escape, the past was waiting for her. And her father slowly rises to meet her and asks for her forgiveness, embracing her in his love, and all the blame that has held her prisoner for so long melts away. And her father’s spirit is finally at rest.

But for Nelson to find his redemption, he would once again have to cross that divide, and there was no coming back. He would confront his past, right his wrongs, and sacrifice his life. This was all his doing and his price to pay, and his heart frantically beats along the monitor. Minutes later… Flatline.

And the team hurries to his rescue, a race against time, but death is against them. And after a long struggle, they surrender, admitting defeat. The question of is there life beyond death should never been answered because you open a door that could never be closed afterward, and a heavy price has to be paid. But would they pay for it with Nelson’s life, and the answer is… No, and again they try to save him. And in the end… “Today is not a good day to die.”

With the heart and soul of a talented cast, brilliant writing, and a perfect example of a classic movie, Flatliners breaks ground in our hunt to know what lies across the divide between life and death. The storyline carries us through flickering, illuminated lights of experience, the past lying in red, and into the darkness, where the ghosts are waiting. We are carried along waves of passion and dedication by actors bringing their characters to life, and they captivate us in their struggle against what lies in wait. And the music lifts our spirits, touches our hearts, and carries us off in the end, and this movie marks forever a deep impression in our hunt to know life beyond death.

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1987 Movie Review: THE LOST BOYS, 1987

THE LOST BOYS, MOVIE POSTERTHE LOST BOYS, 1987
Movie Reviews

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, Jamie Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest, Edward Hermann and Barnard Hughes
Review by Sean McDonald

SYNOPSIS:

A recent divorcee and her two sons move to a coastal town in California, where they end up fighting a gang of teenage vampires.

REVIEW:

Years before Stephanie Meyer had even an inkling of the teen vampire genre, Joel Schumacher created his own homage to classic vampire lore, setting the action in coastal California. Under the watchful eye of producer Richard Donner – who left the directing reins to focus on Lethal Weapon – the film honed in on the MTV generation and subsequently created one of the most recognised flicks of the 1980s.

From the opening credits, the film is immediately beguiling – as we soar effortlessly over the Santa Carla fairground in orchestration to the theme song, Cry Little Sister. We follow the ever reliable Dianne Wiest and her two sons as they move in with her father in Santa Carla – an area burdened with motorbike gangs and unexplained disappearances (in reference to the film’s title and J.M. Barrie’s fictional characters). One evening at a concert, the oldest son, Michael (played with aplomb by Jason Patric) falls for the endearing Jami Gertz, who hangs around with a group of ‘youthful’ vampires – led by a brash alpha-male, Kiefer Sutherland. Naturally, Michael is ‘initiated’ into the gang and wakes up the next morning, disorientated and sensitive to sunlight…

For the most part, the film concentrates on Patric (with a stylish leather jacket and ray-ban sunglasses) as he tries (and fails) to hide his involuntary transformation into a half-vampire. At the same time, his younger brother (Corey Haim) befriends a cocky pair of vampire-slaying brothers (including Corey Feldman) who offer their expertise and solutions to the problem: a stake through the heart. Refusing to do it, Haim and the brothers settle on an alternative method– identify and kill the head vampire in Santa Carla before Michael succumbs to the thirst. Uh-oh.

The young Patric and Sutherland bring appeal to their roles with the latter, quite literally, chewing on the badboy/antagonist stereotype. The two Coreys, then at the height of their success, handle their parts with swift enthusiasm whilst the Oscar-winning Wiest is criminally underused; though her seemingly minor story arc becomes an important part of the film’s denouement. Heavyweight actor, Barnard Hughes handles his short but eccentric screen time with memorable repercussions and Alex Winter (forever adorned as Bill S. Preston Esq.) shows up as one of Sutherland’s gang members.

Like the original vampire yarns, the film uses plenty of exposition to remind us of the “rules” when it comes to tackling the bloodthirsty undead. The classics such as sunlight, garlic, reflections, etc., are present and implemented to great effect without letting the film fall into satire. The union of horror and comedy also manages to work well: a scene involving Haim singing in a bubble bath while his bloodthirsty brother creeps up the stairs is executed perfectly. Though not as scary or gory as it could have been, Schumacher doesn’t shy away from amping the violence and horror when necessary – take the shocking campfire attack as an undiluted example of the excellent makeup prosthetics.

Albeit, the movie has its share of problems. Jamie Gertz struggles to transcend a manufactured romantic role and the end mano-a-mano showdown comes across as a little camp by today’s standards (unless you’ve seen 2006’s The Covenant). It is also difficult to believe that Dianne Wiest and her family seem to completely overlook the various ‘missing people’ posters that flypaper the streets of the sinister town. However, these faults are minor and like Schumacher’s previous effort, St Elmo’s Fire, the film is effortlessly nostalgic with an amazing soundtrack and eerie score by Thomas Newman (American Beauty).

At the heart of the film, there is no denying its original script and witty dialogue – “As a matter of fact, we’re almost certain that ghouls and werewolves occupy high positions at city hall.” It also offers some innovative visuals such as the dizzying aerial shots, POV camerawork and startling locations (the old hotel hangout and foggy railroad.) The film also sports an array of dreamlike sequences, from Michael’s hazy consumption of the wine and the timeless motorcycle race through the beach. And who can forget the final, if slightly predictable, twist and quotable closing line?

Though not as tongue-in-cheek as Fright Night or as serious as Near Dark, The Lost Boys pulls away as the most memorable with its clever deconstruction of the vampiric mould and adventurous storyline. It just beggars belief that Schumacher would go on to direct Batman and Robin.

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Happy Birthday: Joel Schumacher

joelschumacherJoel Schumacher

Born: August 29, 1939 in New York City, New York, USA

“Val did me two great favors. When I wanted him to be Batman, he said yes. Then he created a situation which allowed me not to have him play Batman again. They were both happy, happy instances, for which I will always be grateful.” — Premiere magazine (April 1997), in an article on Val Kilmer.

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