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Fatal Attraction – Paramount Presents (Blu-ray Review)

Paramount is launching into a pretty exciting new endeavor and keeping us home video collecting enthusiasts relieved that some studios are putting some effort behind catalog titles. With the newly minted Paramount Presents line, the brand is promising collectible packaging, new bonus features and new transfers of classic films from all eras of their storied studio’s career. The popular 1987 Michael Douglas and Glenn Close adult thriller Fatal Attraction will brand the #1 spine labeling for the line as it finds itself the head of the launching group of titles. The Adrian Lyne film (Which he’ll be also be getting his film Flashdance distributed in this line later on) had a previous edition that seemed ripe for a new transfer, so we’ll see if it can improve upon the previous release. The line debuts on April 21st, and you can order yourself the Paramount Presents edition of Fatal Attraction by clicking on the Amazon Associates link following the review.

Film

For Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), life is good. He is on the rise at his New York law firm, is happily married to his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), and has a loving daughter. But, after a casual fling with a sultry book editor named Alex (Glenn Close), everything changes. Jilted by Dan, Alex becomes unstable, her behavior escalating from aggressive pursuit to obsessive stalking. Dan realizes that his main problem is not hiding his affair, but rather saving himself and his family.

Watching Fatal Attraction today, it can feel a little bit like a route paint by numbers affair thriller. However, this is the one that kinda created that route paint by numbers affair thriller. What probably is a bit forgotten now is that Adrian Lyne’s thriller was a MASSIVE success upon release. The film did big box office, scored well with the critics and pulled in 7 Academy Award nominations (Though, it whiffed on every one). A series of deranged female stalker/killer/stirring up shit movies would become a knock off sub genre all its own in the wake of Fatal Attraction. When these Paramount Presents films got announced, I was like “Really? Fatal Attraction as one of the launch titles?”, but yea, really. Hell, I’m surprised someone hasn’t tried to remake the damn thing yet.

Easy to see up front, beyond the plot and how prestigious you may or may not think it is, the performances here are just top notch. Its pretty fun to just watch Close, Douglas or Archer share moments with each other or have a random pop in with Fred Gwynne for a scene. Close is obviously stealing the show here as she gets to go balls to the wall and has a hell of a time with it, but lets not forget Anne Archer was also nominated for an Academy Award for this movie. Hers is the less fun one, but possibly one of the more challenging ones so as to ground the film and give it stakes and someone to truly care for.

We need her as someone to truly care for, someone to want to be safe and not hurt because Fatal Attraction really lacks a protagonist. Granted, the movie clearly tells us its Michael Douglas, but he’s not so easy to root for and the movie doesn’t seem to want to fully condemn him for his actions. Many of his lines thereabouts to make him “turn a corner” or “repent” sound like cliches and lies a jerk would tell. Yes, this movie is showcasing a mistake to haunt for life and he does good on ending things right away, but he plays into stuff and ramps up Close’s “Alex” insanity. He’s a bit of a trigger and he both knows it and also can’t handle it. Overall he wins out because he’s just not as bad as Alex, by some amount of votes. This also probably played a lot better in the 80s and 90s as our culture and viewing lens has changed since then and I sure can respect and understand that.

Despite all that, despite seeing how it “holds up” 32 years later, at the core level the film entertains and thrills at a higher level than most like it. It has a cast that really dives into it and props it up to make it all work in light of any shortcomings there may be. The film is dark, but its still pretty fun with its suspense and eye opening villain. Lyne also knows how to play to his audience and finds several great big moments and applaud worthy spots. Its still a rock solid time.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: This new edition of Fatal Attraction marks its 8th appearance on Blu-ray, but the first time it has been given a new transfer. That is a 4K transfer to boot. Unlike the other Paramount Presents releases, this one doesn’t appear to have any moments of heavy DNR to the point of smooth, waxy faces. For the most part, this one seems to have no issue letting its grain flag fly. Just from the looks of things, with the grain and the smoky-room looking sets/locations in the film, Fatal Attraction is just an uglier looking picture from the ground up. That crummy, constant cold, cloudy, rainy day look does help the feel of the film, but it doesn’t make for much of a looker when you hear “OOOH 4K transfer!” The transfer does its job in holding onto detail, being as crisp as it can, and adding some good depth and saturation on the color palette and black levels. Some moments, better lit mainly, stand out. Some, darker or heavier in grain fair as you think they would. Overall, its a satisfying, perfectly enjoyable experience. This should definitely be judged in motion, as I personally don’t think the screen caps do it enough justice.

Depth: Interiors looks very impressive here in this transfer with good push back and spacing in their depth of field. Motion, even in its most rapid action moments, is quite fluid and smooth. No issues with blurring or jittering or other distotions.

Black Levels: Black levels are pretty deep and make as good attempt to hit a natural look as it can. Details in dark areas (Sometimes heavier in grain) are very impressive with some really dark suit jackets and paints showing some very hard to see pin stripes from pretty far out distances. There are some crushing issues when it come close ups and seeing the shadows on faces, particularly under the neck. Nothing horrible, its just that I’m viewing this under reviewer eyes and paying keen attention.

Color Reproduction:  This film is rather boring in the way of color. Nothing really there to stand out, but all the regular stuff has solid saturation and comes across bold enough. There are nice moments with glowing brake lights on cares in the dark, fire, blood and a stained glass design on the door to the country home.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones kind of take a colder look to them in the color timing and hang onto that look for the whole picture. Facial features and textures fare quite well in the close ups and medium shots, seeing make-up, freckles, lip texture, wrinkles and the like with some pretty good ease.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Audio Description, French 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, English (Commentary), French (Commentary)

Dynamics: Fatal Attraction comes with the same 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track that accompanied the previous release. And that’s plenty sufficient. The score sounds pretty lovely on it, especially during the closing credits. It has a pretty solid balance between that score, effects and vocals in its mix. In terms of more action oriented stuff, it definitely ramps up admirable enough to be plenty engaging and effective in those moments.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: The subwoofer doesn’t get super deep and pounding, but it does hit its marks when the appropriate action or music beat calls on it to contribute.

Surround Sound Presentation: Most of the film is up front and center, but when a more populated environment shows up, it takes advantage of the ears speakers whether it be crowd ambiance or pouring rain. Sometimes to score helps to elevate itself by utilizing the rear channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and carry a little bit of their analog sourcing with them. It features some good inflection and depth in louder exchanges.

Extras

Fatal Attraction, in first pressing, comes with a slip cover that folds open to reveal the original poster art for the film. This new edition omits 3 featurettes from the previous release that made up about an hour of in depth content.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Adrian Lyne

Filmmaker Focus: Adrian Lyne On Fatal Attraction (HD, 7:43) – A brief, kinda scattered, interview with Adrian Lyne as he reflects on some moments of the film and touches upon the alternate ending of the film as well as going over how proud he is of how the actual ending turned out. “If I don’t fuck this up, its going to be a big hit.”

Rehearsal Footage (SD, 7:09) – Introduced by Adrian Lyne. He notes that this shot on video rehearsal is the first time Glenn Close and Michael Douglas met. The angles all have Close as the focus. Lyne then introduces us to an Anne Archer rehearsal acting with someone offscreen reading Douglas’ lines (Interestingly enough the script line at the time was “The girl with the dark hair”.).

Alternate Ending With Introduction By Director Adrian Lyne (SD, 12:04) 

Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:27) – I actually like the look of the transfer on this trailer better than the one for the feature.

Summary

Younger audiences or those coming late the game may not appreciate Fatal Attraction for how innovative and an eye-opener it was for audiences in 1987, but it still plays as a pretty solid adult thriller. Paramount’s new transfer of the film is pretty good, and I would imagine its an upgrade over the previous edition as none too much tinkering looks to have gone on that isn’t welcome. The disheartening factor comes with the omission of significant bonus material in lieu of a softball new interview. As I mentioned in my To Catch A Thief review, these new interviews feel like something to accompany the theatrical screenings that were announced along with these Blu-rays. They are brief (Pretty much identical in length) and hit pretty much a couple key points. Past editions of these movies have proven to have more to offer for supplementary material and these new ones are not making a fair trade in what’s being exchanged. If anything, the case for these releases should have an empty spindle on the other side so you can put the old disc in it, as you’ll want to still hang onto it. But, overall, you’re coming for the movie Fatal Attraction and it looks pretty good in its new clothes. Its also super cheap right now already.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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