Alex is a mine worker in Pittsburgh who also works as a dancer in a local club. She dreams of dancing professionally and desperately wants to be accepted to a Pittsburgh Ballet school. When her boss Nick convinces her to go out on a date with him, she meets someone who supports her in her dreams. Now she just has to find the strength to reach out and achieve those dreams.
During the 1980s, dance movies were the in-thing. Fame (1980), Dirty Dancing (1987), Footloose (1984) and Flashdance (1983) were all sensations at the time. Maybe we can thank Michael Jackson and the advent of break dancing, but whatever the reason it was the flavor of the day. Those movies still seem to hold a place in the hearts of fans as Dirty Dancing, Footloose and Flashdance have now all been re-released in Special Editions.
Jennifer Beals plays Alex, a welder and part-time quasi stripper who dreams of being a professional dancer. The only thing standing between her and her dreams is the fear of failure. Early in the movie, we see that she feels almost inadequate when she goes to the dance school, and then she leaves without getting an application. We meet her mentor, a kind older lady named Hanna, who once used to dance herself. Alex is embarrassed by her fears and lies to her mentor about her fears. We also meet her best friend Jeanie who has a dream of being a professional skater.
The movie is basically a girl empowerment movie, a female Rocky as producer Lynda Rosen Obst called it. The dancers at the club were not exactly strippers, but what the movie called Flashdancers. Instead of just getting up and stripping, the girls had their own style, costumes, and unique music and danced their specific numbers. During the movie, we get this style of dance numerous times, almost enough to make the movie about really nothing more than the various dance numbers, some strange, some energetic, but all unique.
The plotline was pretty simplistic and really just was there to move the story from one dance number to another. Alex meets her boss, Nick, who asks her out on a date. Alex plays hard to get but when the date is finally accepted, she becomes open and, honestly very promiscuous. I think the problem with the character of Alex is that she is portrayed as pretty much an eighteen-year-old kid who always seems to do the wrong things. She is stubborn to a fault. You just want to jump into the movie and yell at her to get her ass in line. When Nick finally tells her to grow up you want to cheer for him, despite her being the main character.
The most annoying part is that regardless of what happens to Alex, she continues to refuse to even try to reach her goals. She tells her best friend to work and fight for her goal, but does not turn the advice onto her own problems. She feels so horrible about not trying to achieve her goals that she goes to confession when she has to lie about it to her mentor. She is just a very hard character to cheer for since she does not seem to know what is best for her.
Another problem with the movie is character arcs that are just dropped. Jeannie’s boyfriend goes to Los Angeles to try to be a comedian but fails. When he returns, Jeannie is now dating a scum bag that you learn to despise during the movie. We never see the boyfriend again, despite the fact that he has been made into a likable character thanks to his defense of Alex when the scum bag attacked her early in the movie. We know that Jeannie wants to be an ice skater, and we see her fail in her competition, so we want her to eventually achieve her goal. Alex saves her from a nude club she gets sucked into working at, but after that, we never see her again either. I know the story is basically Alex’s but the fact that we are given characters to care about, and then they are just dropped with no reach to their goals in sight seems short-sighted for the movie.
The movie looks beautiful and holds up well today with its colors and design. The dance moves are a bit outdated, and sometimes it seems more like a huge workout session than a dance sequence. What makes the movie hold up so well is the energy of the actors in the movie. Jennifer Beals is a sensation in her first major role. For an inexperienced actor who took a few acting classes and then won the role in an audition, she knocked this one out of the park.
While the leg warmers, dance moves, and some of the music feels dated the movie still holds up as well as it did twenty-five years ago.
The movie looks and sounds great. It’s presented in 16:9 widescreen and looks spectacular. The sound is offered in Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 2.0 Surround, Spanish Mono and Portuguese Mono. The presentation, both audio and visual, is just fantastic for this release.
You get a CD with the movie that includes the following songs: Flashdance … What a Feeling, Manhunt, He’s a Dream, Lady Lady Lady, Romeo and Maniac.
There are a number of featurettes that include current interviews with cast and crew over various parts of the movie. Director Adrian Lyne and producer Jerry Bruckheimer gave lots of good insight into the making of the movie. We also hear from lots of crew members and a few cast members as well, but nothing from Jennifer Beals. Not really sure why they couldn’t get her involved in this as it would have been nice to hear something from her about this breakthrough role. We get a good look at the legacy of the movie and smaller featurettes detailing the look, the music, the choreography, and the reception of the movie upon its release. It is a nice look at all the things that led to Flashdance becoming the sensation that would help launch the Bruckheimer dynasty.