4K UHD Review: Flashdance [40th Anniversary Edition] | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 19th, 2024  

Flashdance [40th Anniversary Edition] 4K UHD

Studio: Paramount

Apr 10, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

By day, eighteen-year-old Alex (Jennifer Beals) works as a welder in an Iron City steel mill. Every night before returning to her Southside Pittsburgh apartment, though, Alex steps onto the stage at a neighborhood bar. She dances with full abandon, losing herself in the music and her movements. She dreams of being a dancer—a “real” dancer—and performing for more than a crowd of jeering teamsters. But she’s afraid; so afraid of failing to meet her goals that she sidesteps opportunities and finds excuses to avoid making steps toward her dream. But time doesn’t stop moving just because she wants it to stand still, and outside influences—including the mill’s handsome owner, Nick, who aggressively pursues her—keep pushing her whether she feels she’s ready to make that leap or not.

Adrian Lyne’s smash 1983 hit arrives on Ultra HD for its 40th anniversary in a stunning-looking and -sounding new edition. Flashdance is essentially a musical where the characters dance their feelings rather than sing them; some contemporary critics derided it as a string of music videos loosely connected by a thin plot. But, what’s not to love about that? Flashdance is a treat for the eyes, with many thrillingly choreographed pieces of dance and inventive camerawork—and Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack is among the best of the 1980s, and includes pieces that went on to become major hits. And yeah, while the story is pretty minimal, it’s sexy as hell, and ultimately pretty feel-good. Flashdance was a runaway phenomenon for a reason, and that’s because there’s so little to dislike about a movie that’s this kinetic and fun.

While my experience may only be limited to around 100 discs so far, I will say that Flashdance is one of the most impressive 4K UHD releases I’ve encountered. There’s the expected boost in the finer details of scenes, to the point where street numbers are legible on the doors of dingy Pittsburgh buildings and Alex’s dance application could be read in its entirety if you were so inclined to pause the film and do so. The addition of HDR makes colors stand out brighter and more deeply; this is a movie with lots of strong bold lighting against blacks and dully greys. The neon signs and strip lighting around the stage in Mawby’s Bar, the stylish lampshades in Alex’s loft, the sparks of her welding torch at the steel mill: these all pop brilliantly on this format. Most stunning, though, are the film’s truer blacks, which are easiest to easiest to appreciate in Alex’s first stage routine, where she performs in sharp silhouette against bright, white backlighting, as well as in the “Imagination” number, where the display now renders a flashing effect that feels closer to actual strobe lighting than any previous version of this film. There’s often much attention paid to a 4K UHD’s capability to approximate the experience of seeing a movie on film, but the latter is one of the rare examples of something a digital display can arguably do better.

Bonus features are mostly carried over from the Paramount Presents release, and they’re fine—a little lacking, but better than nothing. There’s a six-minute discussion of the film by its director, Lyne; an overview of the movie’s visuals; and a nine-minute look back at Flashdance’s unexpected success in theaters. In reality, though, it’s the feature presentation itself that will make fans want to upgrade. The 4K transfer—and its application of HDR in particular—is nothing short of incredible.


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