I Saw Flatliners, Which Was a Mistake

Flatliners ’89 is a well-nigh perfect popcorn movie, and I’ll fight anybody who disagrees (I’ll lose, though).

Critics hated it, though, because it wasn’t the Ken Russell film Altered States. They didn’t like Altered States either. Critics are finicky.

About a year ago, they began advertising that Niels Arden Oplev, who directed the Danish masterpiece, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the lovable misfire, Dead Man Down, would be directing a sequel to the original film – starring Kiefer Sutherland(!) – which, for some reason, would also simply be called Flatliners.

The trailer was lame. But, y’know, the guy who made one of the best detective thrillers of the decade (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and one of the most interesting crime noirs (Dead Man Down) was behind it, so it couldn’t possibly turn out bad.

It did, though. Because, y’know, like Ian Malcom once said, “Life finds a way.”

I don’t have a long form essay about it for you, because it’s really not worth it, and plenty of websites have plumbed the depths of why it’s so bloody awful. But I did bring my notebook to the (completely empty) theater that I saw it at. And I did record my thoughts throughout. And, I guess, I might as well share them, after removing all the profanity. Because this movie was exactly that dull. Like, impressively dull. There are some spoilers ahead, but, um, it doesn’t matter:

  1. I am alone in the theater.
  2. I have no expectations. I hope it’s good.
  3. This is basically Flatliners ’89, but if it was a CW soap opera.
  4. Why wasn’t James Van Der Beek in this?
  5. Forty minutes in, this is remarkably boring.
  6. Every single shot in this movie is a close up.
  7. Every single edit in this movie is a quick cut.
  8. Was there a Director of Photography?
  9. Holy crap the cinematography is bland.
  10. Why didn’t they get Jan de Bont to be the Director of Photography again? Has he even worked since the ‘90s?
  11. This is a stylistic departure for Oplev. Because it’s so freaking dull.
  12. Where did they get the DSLR that they used to film this?
  13. Did they use my DSLR to film this?
  14. This looks worse than my 2010 Pentax KX.
  15. Why am I still using a Pentax KX?
  16. This feels like the bad first draft of the Flatliners ’89 screenplay.
  17. I guess Diego Luna is supposed to be this movie’s Kevin Bacon, but with a cooler accent and absolutely no personality traits.
  18. This entire movie is an infomercial on the dangers of texting and driving.
  19. Kiefer Sutherland is in this, but as a different character than in Flatliners ’89. He does nothing here.
  20. Why didn’t they rewrite the script when they signed on Kiefer Sutherland?
  21. Why didn’t they rewrite the script when they signed on Niels Arden Oplev?
  22. Why didn’t they rewrite the script after reading it?
  23. Did they just kill off Ellen Page? That’s pretty ballsy.
  24. Okay, yeah, they actually killed off Ellen Page.
  25. Somehow the stakes feel infinitely lower in this film, even though nobody actually dies in the original.
  26. This is not a sequel.
  27. This isn’t even a movie. This is an extended music video for a lame French House band.
  28. This entire movie is just Flatliners ’89, but bad.
  29. This is like Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, but somehow more derivative.
  30. Oh, none of the ghosts are real. It’s one of those ‘we’re metaphorically haunted. By our past’ things.
  31. This is the kind of Flatliners movie Charles Taylor was warning us about in A Secular Age.
  32. I would say I’m angry that this movie got my money, but I have MoviePass.
  33. I’m angry they got MoviePass’s money.
  34. Somehow, in a world where the Alt-Right exists, this is the thing I’m currently the most angry about.

There you have it, folks. I suffered through the new Flatliners so you don’t have to. Look, I’m incredibly easy to please. I like almost every movie. And I hated this. Avoid it like the plague, unless your parish priest prescribes one viewing of the film as penance for this past week’s sins. And even then, try and get a lighter sentence if you can. Flatliners ’17 is bad.

 

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