Flatliners (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Flatliners</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, April 2018) I’m really not going to suggest that 1990’s Flatliners was a terrific movie, but a recent look at it suggested that it remained watchable thanks to slick cinematography and the presence of a group of actors who have since gone on to successful careers. While it’s far too early to say if Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton or Kiersey Clemons will break out (Ellen Page is already a known quantity, although not quite as indispensable as she was in 2010), I have a feeling that the 2017 remake will not age well. For one thing, it’s almost terrifyingly dull to viewers of the first movie—it keeps the inherent silliness of the original premise, but doesn’t really do anything interesting with the rest of its potential. The cinematography is flat (although some of the CGI-enhanced out-of-body sequences have flair), the themes are underdeveloped, the characters are dull and not much of the film makes sense if you approach it without the original—by the time the lead character unveils state of the art resurrection equipment in a basement, it’s clear that the film doesn’t make sense, and can’t bring any style to the proceedings. Including the original film’s Keifer Sutherland for a two-scene cameo actually undercuts the remake’s effectiveness by reminding us of the original while doing nothing to improve upon it—ah, let’s dream of an alternate take where Sutherland’s character, twenty-five years later, would seek to warn a new generation about the dangers of their experiment! The original idea was a great concept brought down with plotting silliness yet raised by execution quality. Alas, this remake is just dull. Among the actors, I have reasonable hopes that Diego Luna and Kiersey Clemons will go on to better things … but somehow, I doubt that future audiences will see 2017 Flatliners’ casting as a reason to see it.

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