Blu-ray Review: Flashdance (Paramount Presents Edition)


Flashdance arrived in U.S theaters on April 15, 1983. Critics hated the film, but the public loved it. Just ten-years old at the time, I remember how torn sweatshirts and leg warmers became must-haves. Because the movie was rated R, I didn’t get to see it in theaters, but rented it a couple of years later when it appeared on VHS. Like Saturday Night Fever a few years before, it featured a pop soundtrack, so we all bought the record or cassette and  listened to “Flashdance… What a Feeling” sung by Irene Cara and “Maniac” by Michael Sembello endlessly.

Having watched Flashdance countless times through the years, it remains one of my favorite “fun” movies of the 1980’s. The story is flimsy, and the acting so-so, but there’s something about the music and the idea of a dancing welder that occasionally fits the bill on a rainy Saturday night. Directed by Adrian Lyne (Unfaithful, Fatal Attraction) and written by Thomas Hedley (Circle of Two) and Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Showgirls) Flashdance also marked the first collaboration between Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson. The duo would go on to produce some of Hollywood’s biggest hits over the next couple of years, including Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Top Gun (1986) and Bad Boys (1995).

Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) is an eighteen-year-old girl who works as a welder for a Pittsburgh steel company. At night, she works as a costumed dancer at a joint called Mawby’s. Her big dream is to get accepted at the prestigious Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory. The problem is Alex has no real dancing experience beyond her job at Mawbys. When Alex looks at the application for the conservatory, she quickly realizes she doesn’t have the background they’re looking for and gives up on her dream. Her hopes are further dashed when her best friend Jeanie (Sunny Johnson), fails miserably and falls twice during an ice skating competition. Alex sees herself in her friend’s humiliation.

Things begin to change when she goes on a date with the steel company’s boss Nick (Michael Nouri). Nick drives a Porsche and obviously has some money. Alex really isn’t too keen on getting into a relationship with her boss. Eventually, she relents and the two embark on a whirlwind romance. The relationship is up and down–Alex get jealous of Nick’s ex-wife–but they always come back to each other. Nick believes Alex has dancing talent and when she finally submits her application to the conservatory. Her audition results in one of the most recognized dance sequences in film history. One that fit with the music video style MTV was popular for at the time.

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Paramount has provided Flashdance with a largely solid Blu-ray. The image is rather sharp, with a couple of moments of slight softness. Much of the softness appears to stem from the source, rather than any processing. There’s a decent layer of film grain, though I suspect some digital noise reduction was used — not a lot but it  added to the occasional lack of definition. There are no real print flaws in evidence. The gritty color palette is well rendered. Sporadic use of brighter tones looks appealing. Blacks are inky and shadows are appropriately dense.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack offers a pleasing presentation, though the soundfield was a bit subdued when it came to the more well-known pop songs. For the most part, music sounds full, and offers a nice sense of ambience. Effects are clear and accurate, and ambient sounds are realistic. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.

English, English SDH, and French subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • NEW! Filmmaker Focus (HD, 5:51) Director Adrian Lyne discusses various aspects of the film including the dancing, visual and musical choices, casting and more. This is too short to offer anything particularly exciting, but it is an overview.
  • The Look of Flashdance (HD, 9:12) Various members of the cast and crew comment on the costumes and visual design used in the film.
  • Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon (HD, 8:52) Members of the cast and crew discuss the editing process, the film’s release, success and legacy.
  • Trailer

Flashdance (1983)

Movie title: Flashdance

Country: USA

Duration: 95 min

Director(s): Adrian Lyne

Actor(s): Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala , Sunny Johnson , Belinda Bauer, Kyle T. Heffner

Genre: Romance, Music, Drama

  • Movie
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras