In time to celebrate its 40th Anniversary, Paramount takes the stage with Adrian Lyne's iconic 1983 hit Flashdance on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Now with a full 4K Dolby Vision HDR transfer, the film's stylish imagery comes to life with clear details and vivid colors. The same solid audio track is brought about again, but the bonus features package is the same anemic collection assembled for the Paramount Presents disc. If you're a fan and feeling the need to upgrade, or if you've yet to add this title to the collection - make it happen. Recommended
After my 2020 Paramount Presents Blu-ray review, I'm still not much of a fan of Flashdance. It's enjoyable, certainly entertaining, but it never spoke to me. It's got a great soundtrack and some fine performances and it's a hallmark example of 1980s Simpson/Bruckheimer; it's just not one I feel the need to revisit all that often. To that end, here's what I had to say about Flashdance three years ago.
Alex (Jennifer Beals) has big dreams. A talented dancer at an exotic nightclub, she commands the stage and the audience. She wants to join a prestigious dance school - and certainly has the talent - but her fear of performing in close intimate settings keeps her from trying. So, she marks time as a welder at a Pittsburgh mill. Catching the eye and encouragement of her boss/boyfriend Nick (Michael Nouri), Alex gets the chance to prove to herself and to everyone else she's not just another floozy dancing at a nightclub - she has real talent.
Being all of one when it hit theaters, Flashdance didn't really hit my radar until the mid-90s when the film seemed to have a resurgence at my school. Suddenly everyone seemed to have this soundtrack either performing tribute talent show performances to it - or doing outright parodies. A high school kid a few grades ahead of me did a recreation of Alex's aerobics routine to "Maniac" by Michael Sembello - it's important to picture he was about 6'2" and easily topped 250 pounds wearing spandex, it was quite the show! Even Mystery Science Theater 3000 did a goof with it as a host segment for their Horrors of Spider Island episode. Given the circumstances, it was quite a while before I earnestly sat down and watched this one.
And… it's alright. It's not a favorite. Flashdance is certainly entertaining, but it doesn't hit me in the nostalgic feels like it does with a number of people. What I appreciate most about this movie is that it works like a pseudo-musical. The cast may not be doing any singing, but they're certainly performing in time with some of the catchiest pop songs of its era. There's a damned good reason this movie's soundtrack sold as many copies as it has over the decades. It's great. And the dance numbers are impressive as well. The cast - or at least their dance doubles - do amazing work on screen. Director Adrian Lyne with his cinematographer Donald Peterman deftly captures the sexy sultry imagery with vigor and style.
Where it doesn't quite work for me is neo-feminism as defined by Joe Eszterhas and Tom Hedley. Some folks like to point to this movie as an 80s female empowerment movie but that doesn't hold water for me. Sure, it's inspirational in that tone of going for your dreams, but it's not unique. Alex is talented and can choreograph intricate dance performances that earn the cheers of the hundreds of people packed into the club when we meet her… but she needs the encouragement of her boyfriend/boss Nick to try out for dance school and achieve her dreams? I'm all for a "go for it!" dream film - the best sports movies are essentially that - but here it all boils down to Alex being too emotionally fragile and Nick is the one to give her the gumption to try which to me undercuts any strength as an individual Alex carries. The finish may be a grand finale but she was already capable of doing that as we see her strut her stuff multiple times throughout the movie.
But there I go, trying to make sense of a movie like Flashdance - a flick that's hellbent on being cool with a killer soundtrack. Story and thematic misgivings aside, it is an entertaining show. If nothing else it's a great showcase for some impressive talents and considering the music videos that were clearly inspired by this movie - it certainly left a mark. It's just not one of my favorites. A viewing every ten years or so is enough for me - but I know plenty of folks who love this one to their core.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Flashdance storms the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray stage with a new two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital release. The 4K version sits on a BD-66 disc with the standard 1080p disc being a simple repackage of the 2020 Paramount Presents disc. The discs are housed in a two-disc black case with identical golden shower cover artwork. The disc loads to a static image main menu with a basic menu structure.
NOTE: At this time we haven't been able to rip the disc and source 4K images or video, but we hope to circle back to this soon. All pics are from the 2020 Blu-ray.
After a modestly improved disc for the signature Paramount Presents release, Flashdance gets a little more visual life and heft in 2160p with Dolby Vision (and HDR10). This transfer has been living on streaming services like Vudu and iTunes over the last three years and it finally comes home to disc, only with a much healthier bitrate and overall much more appealing appearance. Unlike some past Paramounted titles, there doesn't appear to be any egregious grain modulation to get up in a huff about. Bitrates can slip a bit around the opening credits and some of the optical transition effects, but otherwise, they stay nice and high and healthy with a nicely cinematic grain structure. Details see a notable boost over the past disc which I thought looked pretty good but only a modest improvement over the older Warner Bros. released disc. Here, those fine textures in facial features, hair, makeup, and clothing are much more notable and appealing.
Dolby Vision works well for this outing giving added refinements to colors, contrast, and black levels. The overall color timing isn't different from the 2020 Blu-ray, it's just better managed. The various lighting schemes of the nightclub where Jennifer Beals dances see the most notable improvements. The red lights of the stage, the blue lightbulbs above her, the bright white background against her darkened silhouette is a great example scene of what the rest of this disc has to offer. Blacks and shadows look much better - especially in the low lights of the clubs - with a stronger feel for depth and dimension. Whites are brilliantly crispt without blooming issues. Colors are healthy and true with normal human skin tones that don't look peached out or too hot. I still don't quite get the reason for Paramount to edge their toes so delicately with the Paramount Presents discs back when, but after some of their rough or unappealing catalog titles last year, we seem to have edged into more positive territory. Cross your fingers and knock on wood this is a sign for things to come.
Again the same solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 track has been reemployed for this release and that's perfectly fine. This time around I ran it with my receiver's DTS Neural:X function in play and it was an impressive experience. There was a little more spacing around the elements giving dialog a little stronger stage, but the added oomph in the subs was appreciable and welcome. An object-based track probably wouldn't hurt, but this mix is still strong and holds its own nicely. Here's what I wrote about the audio three years ago:
For this release, Paramount appears to be content with recycling the already impressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix of the original 2013 release - which isn't a bad thing at all. While conversations and sound effects and so forth are important, it's the music that gets first priority for this film and this DTS track ably handles the workload. Every dance sequence in the club, every montage interlude when Alex does her aerobics or the "workout" scene - the songs dominate the mix and go full tilt in the best ways. Dialog and sound effects for non-music sequences are strong and maintain a natural balance within the soundscape but aren't the showstoppers here. Alex working at the mill isn't a sonic feast for object placement. Those moments are best served when a sexy lady is on stage performing giving the music dominance over the front/center channels while the sides activate the necessary but subdued crowd reactions. All around a great mix so I'm glad to see Paramount didn't feel the need to tinker with it.
Since there aren't any bonus features on the actual 4K disc, the only thing we get here is the same set of anemic extras from the Paramount Presents disc.
It may not be a favorite of mine, but I know a few fans who will be happy to see this film get a solid 4K transfer on disc. The film may be a pseudo-musical with a thin plot, great dance scenes, and an even better soundtrack, but it's a fun watch. In three years I've seen this movie more times than at any other point in my life and I have to admit it's growing on me a little. I still wouldn't call myself a fan, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. Now on 4K Disc with an excellent Dolby Vision transfer, the film scores a solid visual upgrade. Those irked by a lack of an object-based track will have to settle for the same but still strong DTS 5.1 track. The only real bummer of this set is the same lacking bonus features. If you're aiming to upgrade or haven't added this to the collection - Recommended.