St. Elmo's Fire (UK - BD)
Marcus is a man in motion, take me where my future's lyin', St. Elmo's Fire
St. Elmo’s Fire, the 1985 Joel Schumacher movie, follows seven friends fresh out of Georgetown University. Kirby (Emilio Estevez), Billy (Rob Lowe), Kevin (Andrew McCarthy), Jules (Demi Moore), Alec (Judd Nelson), Leslie (Ally Sheedy) and Wendy (Mare Winningham) are thrust into the real world and each in their own way struggles to adjust to their new adult lifestyles.
I honestly don’t think that I’d ever seen St. Elmo’s Fire in its entirety before sitting down to watch this Blu-ray. I’d seen big chunks of it on various TV airings and plenty of the clips on all those countdown shows, but on the whole this was an almost totally fresh experience of what is regarded as an eighties classic.
Once I’d got my back into the eighties filmmaking sensibilities, gotten over the weird and wonderful haircuts and wacky clothes and accepted that there would be nothing subtle about this score (sax heavy and twee piano) I was ready to sit back and watch the story unfold and to fill in the gaps of the minimal amount I knew already.
Now I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found the opening few scenes almost totally impenetrable. This group of friends were talking a lot, but nearly ninety percent of it seemed to be nonsense. It also doesn’t help that none of the characters are that likable. Outside of Andrew McCarthy, who was always fun in this era and Ally Sheedy, who I probably only enjoyed because I still have a soft spot for her from Short Circuit. Hey, maybe I just found this group a little too eighties for my tastes.
Moving on through the individual stories of the group members and getting a closer look at their issues, I began to see how St Elmo’s Fire has influenced many of the movies I enjoy now. Groups of friends falling out, getting into hip situations and of course revealing their secret long time loves are themes I’ve really enjoyed in many an ensemble movie, but even these elements didn’t quite click with me in St. Elmo’s and I honestly think it’s because I don’t feel anything for these characters.
Kirby’s obsession with (the always looked the same age) Andie MacDowell is too undercooked to have fun with, Jules is just too un-likable to care that much about, Wendy doesn’t even feel like a real person, Rob Lowe constantly feels like he’s acting (and seems to be the style blueprint for Michael in Schumacher's next movie Lost Boys) and even though my favourite of the threads was the love triangle between Kevin, Alec and Leslie, I just didn’t buy how it ended up. Beyond all this I just found myself questioning why this group, that only seem to have their university days in common, were even friends. It just seemed a little forced and unrealistic.
I’ll admit, I’ve probably come to St. Elmo’s Fire twenty odd years too late to truly appreciate it, and to say I didn’t like it, is probably a little strong. I had fun with Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy’s argument about what records she gets to keep after their break up (“No Springsteen is leaving this house”). Most of Andrew McCarthy’s scenes are great (in his three sizes too big coat) and Rob Lowe’s big speech to Demi Moore about what a St. Elmo’s Fire actually is was just about enough of a payoff to warrant ninety minutes of single minded eighties characters having a change of heart but even with all of this, it’s not enough for me to understand how St. Elmo’s fire is held in such high regard.
Once you get past the opening credits, which are filled in a dark level of thin grain, the image springs to HD life. The transfer is surprisingly clean, bright and way beyond what I would have expected from a movie released in 1985. I would even go as far as to say that in some well lit sun drenched exteriors, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish the transfer from a lot of modern movies (that is until someone walks into shot wearing some hideous eighties fashion).
With pinks and reds glowing off of the screen, colours are surprisingly vivid in places, even if the pink tone to people’s skin can be a little too strong and it’s not just the eighties blusher. Detail levels are really what show up the age of the transfer, with some areas being a little soft. However there are some close ups that show a nice level of texture to the characters' faces and were quite impressive.
This being a TrueHD 5.1 track is almost entirely pointless. Every bit of dialogue lives in the centre speaker and when that horrific soundtrack kicks in or Rob Lowe plays his sax the audio spreads out into the front speakers. There is close to no activity in the rears not even in the scene with Kirby standing in the torrential rain, a turn in the weather that any good surround system loves. Because of all this the track can feel a little hollow and restricted.
The multiple inclusions of the main song ‘Man in Motion’ sound good across the front speakers and generally music comes with a good level of bass but it’s in the audio department that the film really shows its age.
‘Joel Schumacher Remembers St Elmo’s Fire’ (14:21 SD) is a great little bit of insight from the director. Telling a few stories about his distaste for the term ‘Brat Pack’ and a little bit about the making of the movie, I found this to be a frank and enjoyable inclusion. Also it shows a few clips from the movie in standard definition and really highlights how much better the new HD transfer is.
Joel Schumacher’s commentary is an enjoyable mix between telling us what’s happening on screen, what the writer/director was aiming for in the scenes, stories about the cast and the eighties era it was trying to capture, as well as Schumacher’s general feelings on life. It’s a fine side order to the movie and as always Schumacher proves to be a filmmaker who has a lot to say.
‘Original Making of Featurette’ (08:43 SD) is a bit of fun, with some seriously young looking stars getting interviewed. ‘Music Video - John Parr Man in Motion’ (04:21 SD) is an eighties music video at its finest and with twelve deleted scenes (15:41 SD) and BD-Live this is a fairly respectable package.
While I can't say I enjoyed St. Elmo’s Fire too much, I did appreciate what Schumacher was trying to achieve with it. Fans should be pretty happy with the disc. The transfer is impressive, especially considering the age of the movie, and even though the features could and probably should have been a lot more, the ones that are here are quite enjoyable.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 3rd August 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Italian , Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hindu, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish
Extras: Commentary with Director Joel Schumacher, Joel Schumacher Remembers St. Elmo's Fire, Original Making of Featurette, Music Video: John Parr 'Man in Motion', Deleted Scenes, BD-Live
Easter Egg: No
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham
Length: 108 minutes
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