Crash [and Burn] Dance

If Flashdance’s appeal escapes you – and no, it’s not just you – consider Jane Fonda’s first workout VHS tape released in 1982. Flashdance, with Jennifer Beals in similar regalia (but sweatier and more cinematic) followed in 1983. That, the narrative-less dancing, and soundtrack made Flashdance explode in pop culture. The rest is… debatable.

It’s difficult to call Flashdance a terrible movie, but it’s an utterly bizarre one. Characters drift in and out of the story, their connections to protagonist Alex (Beals) tenuous, even guesswork. The overarching plot concerns Alex entering a prestigious ballet school, yet never once is she seen performing ballet or showing genuine interest in the dance form. She’s abusive in an already questionable relationship, then Flashdance ends on a whimper with nothing really solved.

Flashdance was never good, and time has only deteriorated this dud

Odder, Flashdance carries a hard R rating, whiffing on a potential date movie audience unlike future competition Footloose and Dirty Dancing, both better fits to the marketplace. The R sauces the language without any need to do so, and allows for pointless nudity, turning Footloose into a salacious, voyeuristic drama intended to drive men to theaters to gawk, not follow a 20-something follow her dance dream.

Just because, Alex has a day job, cutting steel as a welder, another call for men to find this woman irresistible. At night, she dances exotically, and her work is pure first-generation MTV, from costumes to strobe lights and erratic camera angles. Flashdance holds two memorably iconic shots, one as Beals dumps water on herself, the other of her glistening thighs as she works out. Given how little her employment matters to her end goal, it’s obvious then her bar gig is just a means to drench this star in seedy lighting and sleazy outfits.

Possibly an attempt to make Alex feistier, she turns on her boss/boyfriend by shattering one of his windows, then later during another argument, repeatedly slaps him. Those scenes hold up as well as the stand-up comic character whose only material rails against the Polish, and the sleazeball club owner who feels up his workers at will. Flashdance is dated, but that assumes a drop off in quality over the decades. But Flashdance was never good, and time has only deteriorated this dud and made its reason to exist explicitly obvious.

Video

Paramount’s fresh master is generally a winner, with suspicion regarding grain replication. The studio filtered previous releases, and while Flashdance isn’t butchered by the process. The minimal, light touch isn’t image-demolishing, but it’s enough to cause issues. Even if waxy at brief moments (a dinner scene around 1:04:00 is the worst), detail punches through, cleanly defined and sharp in close. Frozen/stuck grain tends to be more visible in wide shots, but again, minimally so. Still, this shouldn’t be a problem in the first place.

The jump to Dolby Vision brings zest and life to the color space. Flesh tones sport exceptional warmth, and the dry, grittier city air has a pinch of smoggy yellow. Primaries bring their own vividness, whether that’s on storefront signage or the dazzling sparks from the welding scenes.

Beals’ skin, drenched with sweat, glistens prominently and the Dolby Vision takes over. Every sweat bead shines, and stage lights bring more bright fire on-screen. No fault in the black levels means no loss in image density or depth.

Audio

A grand early ’80s soundtrack can use the subwoofer a little for accentuation. Generally, Flashdance’s DTS-HD 5.1 track doesn’t have a chance to show off range.

Better, the surrounds give life to the factory floor, tools and machinery bouncing between the rears and stereos discreetly. Separation keeps channels distinct, not just as one wall of sound. There’s hardly any aging to notice.

Extras

On the Blu-ray, Paramount’s Filmmaker Focus has director Adrian Lyne speak on the film for almost six minutes. Cinematography and style earns a bonus that runs nine minutes. Another nine-minute piece looks at the post-production process.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Flashdance
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  • Extras
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Movie

Throbbing with an ’80s zeitgeist, Flashdance is a hokey dance drama without much teeth.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 36 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


One thought on "Flashdance 4K UHD Review"

  1. Mister says:

    “But Flashdance was never good, and time has only deteriorated this dud and made its reason to exist explicitly obvious.”

    $92 million at the box office. The third highest-grosser of 1983. A soundtrack that sold twenty million copies worldwide.

    They did something right, didn’t they? Try putting on some corrective lenses and watch the movie again. And if not, the correct wording is: “But I never liked it.”

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