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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.39%
Worth A Look52.54%
Just Average: 28.81%
Pretty Crappy: 8.47%
Sucks: 6.78%

5 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Flatliners (1990)
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by Kevin Thomas

"They say, right before you die...you see....this movie."
4 stars

In the immortal words of Brooke Shields; ‘If you die, then you’ve lost a very important part of your life’. Wise or dumb? Well, regardless of the wording, it is another way of highlighting that the only thing you can be sure of in life is death. Unless you’re a vampire. Or a Zombie. Or James Bond.

Um, anyway, wouldn’t it be nice if you knew what was awaiting you on the ‘other side’? Well, it’s this desire for knowledge of the beyond that spawned this tale of unethical medical practices.

Kiefer Sutherland and his rag tag band of recklessly gifted medics kill themselves using drugs (half of which are probably made up, but sound plausible enough), only to be brought back to life minutes later by the remainder of the team; bringing with them tales of the beyond. But as they are seduced by the power of playing God, they start pushing the limits of human endurance to dangerous levels. However, the main problem isn’t if they come back, it’s what they bring with them…

As the story progresses, we learn that most of the students have unsavoury histories. Only Julia Roberts escapes with her reputation in tact. The rest are revealed to be insensitive, womanising, bullying, vicious little bastards; and the guilt of their past sins appears to have come back from the beyond with them in physical form. Unsurprisingly, they’re pissed off to boot.

This is where the movie makes it’s only major mistake. When the characters are still relatively innocent in our wide little eyes, and they seem to be being haunted by these incredibly eerie (and very effective) visions of their sins, we still care about them. We don’t want them to be tortured by these horrible visions. In short; we like the little tykes. But as their pasts unfold, they were such vindictive little shits that you are rooting for the ‘evil’ entities. Watching Kiefer Sutherland being overpowered and beaten by a ten year old kid suddenly becomes fair game (and quite hilarious in a way that you know deep down is wrong, but can’t help giggling at anyway). Amazing how fast the tables can turn in such a short amount of time.

The whole thing is set in this inexplicably gothic medical hospital. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely not feel comfortable going under the knife in a theatre as dark, grimy and dingy as the ones they seem to be performing their depressingly regular autopsies in. I’d like to think the surgeon could at least see what he was doing. But regardless of how believable it is, it certainly heightens the sense of immorality that cloak both the players and the action.

But regardless of their inwardly-homosexual skeletons, the characters do put on quite a show. When they’re nice, you do actually care for them, and at least two of the Scooby gang manage to avoid falling from grace as spectacularly as the rest of the little gits. Even ol’ Kiefer will have you grudgingly rooting for him in the closing scenes. Once they start doing schmaltzy things like tracking down their old victims to give them personal apologies (something that is only saved from being unbearably saccharine by the fact that it’s only being done for the most selfish of reasons, and that Kiefer Sutherland is being beaten up by one of the extras from ‘Don’t Look Now’ at the time) it all slips into a fairly predictable groove that it fails to skip out of until the credits roll.

When you reach the end, you’ll wish that someone had had the guts to take it in a slightly different direction to the blindingly predictable one it took. However, regardless of the uninspired ending, it’s a taut little thriller acted out competently by a cast who we care about just that bit too little to make the movie really effective. Certainly not a classic, but worth a rent.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=888&reviewer=368
originally posted: 06/23/04 21:25:15
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell interesting idea becomes moraility tale 2 stars
8/26/12 roscoe very good, but takes awhile to get going and way too morbid 4 stars
1/04/08 Pamela White movie makes you think what is really on the other side 4 stars
4/20/07 action movie fan very good story-intense and engrossing afterlife thriller 4 stars
2/04/07 chow this film was crap...its so boring and it leads to no-where...utter crap 1 stars
5/18/06 chienne Quite right. VERY interesting concept, but it the film was left lacking. But I loved it. 4 stars
1/18/06 JM Synth Not terrible, but it wastes several good ideas, and has surprising little to think about 2 stars
9/17/05 E Wood interesting idea of life after death 4 stars
8/23/05 ES Seen it a couple times, not overly scary nor intriguing, not even eye candy really 2 stars
8/04/05 ^podo scary and interesting 4 stars
9/30/04 Archanist_101 Kiefer Sutherland is just superb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/21/04 Al Guy Interesting thriller. Great star value. 3 stars
7/07/04 Denise Duspiva Great cast good plot 4 stars
4/07/04 Sig wow 5 stars
3/27/03 Goofy Maxwell Insultingly stupid, yet wildly entertaining. 3 stars
1/12/03 Jack Sommersby Dazzling cinematography but dramatically obvious. 2 stars
10/31/02 Monster W. Kung I'd rather die. 1 stars
10/15/02 Charles Tatum One of the few Roberts films I have ever liked 4 stars
1/14/02 Magnum Craphole Interesting premise is flushed down a toilet of banality and superficiality. 1 stars
10/21/01 Cookie Cutter One of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. 1 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Sometimes scary...sometimes stupid. It was OK. 3 stars
6/13/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe About as good as Shumacher will ever get; Baldwin & Jules OK for once 4 stars
3/13/01 Jake Entertaining and engrossing. 4 stars
12/19/99 Eric S. Joel Schumacher takes a great idea and turns into an average thriller 3 stars
10/17/99 Shelagh Interesting, disturbing yet silly! 4 stars
6/14/99 Dylan Worth seeing. 4 stars
9/16/98 cheryl_ann pretty freaky plot, but freaky in a good way. i liked it. 4 stars
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  10-Aug-1990 (R)


  02-Feb-1991 (MA)

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