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FATAL ATTRACTION (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 5, 2009 by  



“‘A film that became a social phenomenon and warned and scared people to death of the implications of one-night stands.  A terrific performance by Glenn Close and Michael Douglas.  Even to this day, this film will make you feel chills down to your bone.  Well-written, well-acted and overall, an absolutely enjoyable, captivating but terrifying thriller.”

Images courtesy of © 1997 Beacon Communications Corp. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: AIR FORCE ONE

DURATION: 124 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: R (for Violence)

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Home Pictures Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: June 2, 2009

Directed by Adrian Lyne

Based on a screenplay and short film by James Dearden

Produced by Stanley R. Jaffe and Sherry Lansing

Music by Maurice Jarre

Director of Photography: Howard Atherton

Edited by Michael Kahn

Casting by Risa Bramon Garcia and Billy Hopkins

Production Design by Jack Blackman

Set Decoration by George De Titta Sr.

Costume Design by Ellen Mirojnick

Starring:

Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher

Glenn Close as Alex Forrest

Anne Archer as Beth Gallagher

Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Ellen Gallagher

Stuart Pankin as Jimmy

Ellen Foley as Hildy

Fred Gwynne as Arthur

Stylish and sexy, FATAL ATTRACTION took audiences to terrifying new heights with its thrilling story of a casual encounter gone terribly awry. This box-office smash was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (Adrian Lyne—Indecent Proposal, Flashdance). Michael Douglas plays Dan Gallagher, a New York attorney who has a tryst with seductive Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) while his wife (Anne Archer) is away. Dan later shrugs off the affair as a mistake and considers it over. But Alex won’t be ignored. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever…even if it means destroying Dan’s family to keep him.

In 1987, the thriller “FATAL ATTRACTION” was released into theaters and the film touched a nerve worldwide that it became a social phenomenon and a box office hit.  The film jumpstarted a wave of many psychopath films right after but also generated fear for men who have ever contemplated an extramarital affair.

The film was directed by Adrian Lyne (“Indecent Proposal” and “Nine 1/2 Weeks”) and was produced by Sherry Lansing and Stanley R. Jaffe (both worked on “Indecent Proposal”, “Black Rain” and “The Accused”).  The film also featured the talents of composer Maurice Jarre (“I Dreamed of Africa”, “Sunshine”, “Dead Poets Society”, “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Ghost”) and cinematographer Howard Atherton (“Indecent Proposal”, “Deep Rising” and “Lolita”).

The film would star well-known talents such as Michael Douglas (“Basic Instinct”, “Wall Street” and “A Perfect Murder”), Glenn Close (“Air Force One”, “Damages” and “Hook”) and Anne Archer (“Privileged”, “Rules of Engagement” and “The Art of War”).

The film revolved around a married attorney named Daniel Gallagher (Michael Douglas) who lives with his loving wife  Beth (Anne Archer) and his six-year-old daughter Ellen (Ellen Gallagher).  The three live in New York and as normal and loving as any family can be.

During a company party, Daniel meets Alex Forrest (Glenn Close), an editor at a publishing company.  The two meet again at a company meeting and the two go out to dinner.  As Daniel’s wife and child are away on vacation, he has a weekend sexual affair with Alex.  The two have a lot in common and have a great time together during that weekend and Alex seems to have fallen for him.

Knowing his wife is coming back, he leaves Alex’s apartment but immediately she shows her frustration of not wanting to be a woman to be screwed and left behind.  Daniel tries to explain to her that this was a fling, he is a married man and thought it was an understanding between the two that it was only for the sex.   The two have an argument and as he is about to leave her apartment, Alex tries to apologize to Daniel which he is happy to see but is in shock when he sees that she has slit both her wrists and is bleeding all over.  He eventually stops the bleeding.

With his wife now back, Daniel and his wife talk about moving outside of New York.  He starts to look at his wife differently and falls in love with her even more.   But things start to go crazy when Alex keeps calling him at work and wanting to see him.  He then has his secretary tell her that he’s not in his office.    She then starts calling him at home, early in the morning and wanting to see him and he agrees to see her the following morning and tell her to stop calling him.  SBut he reminds her that he is married, happy with his wife and family and what they had is over.  She then drops a bombshell on him that she is pregnant with his child.

Immediately Daniel says that he will pay for an abortion but she tells him that she wants to keep the baby.  Daniel then changes the phone number at his home and when Alex tries to call, she is upset that he has changed it. After a day of work, Daniel comes home and hears his wife talking to someone.  That someone is Alex who is looking to purchase their apartment after they move away.  His wife not knowing of the situation then gives Alex his phone number and tells her where they are moving to.

Infuriated, he goes back to Alex’s apartment and tells her to leave him alone and his family alone but she responds with, “”Well, what am I supposed to do? You won’t answer my calls, you change your number, I’m not going to be ignored, Dan!”

This now leads to a dangerous sequence of events as Daniel realizes that this woman is madly obsessed and needs professional help.   As for Alex, she will show him through a series of events that she is not a woman to be ignored and the things that she does will continually shock the viewer.

Needless to say, “FATAL ATTRACTION” had elements of the 1971 film “Play Misty & Me” but shocked America and the world of the implications of a one night stand, hurting the people around you and to be careful of the unknown and in this case, the unknown was having a one night stand with a psychopath.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“FATAL ATTRACTION” gets its first HD treatment on Blu-ray via 1080p High Definition.  The film looks great for a film of its age.  Because it was shot in 1987 and seeing many films in the late 80’s and early 90’s being heavily DNR’d (digital noise reduction) and looking too soft in picture quality, “FATAL ATTRACTION” definitely showcases the detail of the surroundings but also brings out the grain throughout the film.  Personally, I would have grain (since it’s part of film) rather than excessive DNR and edge enhancement.

The film showcases its vibrancy in colors during the outdoor segments but the indoor segments, really interesting use of lighting to show the differences between Daniel’s home and Alex’s home and how things continually got darker and darker.   “FATAL ATTRACTION” doesn’t have the cleanest picture quality but compared to its DVD counterpart, this is probably the best we are going to see of this film on High Definition.  Blacks are nice and deep and I didn’t see any major compression artifacts or dust.

As for the audio, the film is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (including French Dolby Surround and Spanish mono).  “FATAL ATTRACTION” is primarily a dialogue-based film where moods and ambiance is brought to life by the music of Maurice Jarre.  Overall, dialogue is clean and understandable and music is quite clear.

There are some scenes where you can hear the New York surroundings and crowded scenes (such as the party scene) where you can hear the people around the room.  But to tell you the truth, I felt the audio was front channel heavy.  I didn’t hear much coming from the rear surrounds but the subtle noises as the chilling water drips near the end to the operatic music of Madame Butterfly come quite clear in audio but then, even the single gun shot noise that you hear in the film really doesn’t have any punch to it.   But in the end, it’s the acting and the dialogue that is the priority and how the music enhances the moods of love, sex, despair and violence is what I felt was most important and those two things come clear through the lossless audio.

As for subtitles, “FATAL ATTRACTION” is presented in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“FATAL ATTRACTION” comes with the same special features that came on the 2007 DVD Special Edition release.  There is nothing that is new to the Blu-ray but the alternate ending and the trailer are featured in HD.  Included are:

  • Commentary by Adrian Lyne – I have watched a few films with commentary by Adrian Lyne and he’s the first person to tell you that he doesn’t have the greatest memory.  With that being said, with his commentary for “FATAL ATTRACTION”, he does remember enough to discuss the details of making the film and talks about it in detail.  Especially how many cuts it took for certain scenes, working with the talents such as Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Ann Archer and the child Ellen Hamilton Latzen.   Lyne is upfront about having to reshoot ending and his thoughts of the ending on the final cut of the film.  But like previous Lyne commentaries, there are times when he just stops talking.  Perhaps watching the film again has captured his attention for a short while.   Lyne’s commentary is also a bit soft and low, so you may need to turn your speakers up a bit.
  • Forever Fatal: Remembering Fatal Attraction – Cast & Crew Interviews – (28:15) A wonderful featurette about the making of the film.  From working with James Dearden and then finding the talent who would be right for the film (Michael Douglas was already in consideration) and why they chose the talent to portray those roles but also learning how no studio or director wanted to do the film.  What was amazing to hear is how Glenn Close fought for the original ending.  As an actress so into her craft, she researched her role for Alex Forrest and felt the ending was perfect but at the screening of the preview, audiences disliked the ending and thus they reshot the ending to the film despite Glenn Close being against it.  And of course, discussion about how the film became a phenomenon and the worldwide media coverage that it received.  Presented in Standard Definition.
  • Social Attraction – The Cultural Phenomenon of Fatal Attraction – (10:00)  “FATAL ATTRACTION” became a cultural phenomenon.  On one side, it received media coverage because of how shocking the thriller was.  The film became popular among psychiatrists but the film also received backlash by feminists.  Presented in Standard Definition.
  • Visual Attraction – Behind-the-Scenes Production Featurette – (19:39) In order to create the world of “FATAL ATTRACTION”, a lot was done in set design, makeup and just creating this overall, visual sense of the film.
  • Rehearsal Footage – (7:05) The original rehearsal footage of Glenn lose and Ann Archer.  If you thought their acting was powerful in the film, the rehearsals were just as powerful!  Presented in Standard Definition.
  • Alternate Ending with an Introduction by Adrian Lyne (HD) – (11:51) The original “Madame Butterfly” ending.  In the end, I would have to agree with the filmmaker and happy they changed the ending for the final cut.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (HD) – (1:33) The original theatrical trailer presented in High Definition.

I’m not going to lie to you, “FATAL ATTRACTION” scared the crap out of me when I first watched it many years ago and it scared the crap out of me watching it again over 20 years later.

I remember it becoming a cultural phenomenon, in my opinion, because “one night stands” are always shown as things that happen in life but the film shows us the ramifications and the dark side that exist.  Sure, we would see a break up of a relationship or a divorce from infidelity on film but “FATAL ATTRACTION” explores the side heavily and doesn’t miss a heartbeat.  Instantly, showing us a woman who would not be ignored, has some psychological problems and how she became obsessed.

You can analyze this film on the psychiatric side of things or the human-side of things and ask yourself, who is at fault?  Who is the victim? In a way, all are victims in a way.

The film was powerful in a sense that Glenn Close played Alex Forrest, a troubled woman just perfectly.  Her gaze, her look, everything about her sent shivers down my spine.  But its what Glenn Close said on the special features that when playing the part, she felt there was some major trauma that this woman had gone through long ago to be this way.  And Close did a good job of researching and bringing this character out and making her alive, but also terrifying.

Michael Douglas is just the “everyman” in this role.  A normal, hardworking person with a family that he loves but now has to deal with the ramifications of his extramarital affair and the implications it has on his family, to Alex and to himself.  Anne Archer as Beth was the wife one would want.  A good mother, loving wife and it’s just unfortunate that like in real life, even these good people become a victim.  Fortunately, for Archer’s character, despite the loving, family and caring tendencies, she’s also a strong woman who will not let anything happen to her family.  Archer’s chemistry with Douglas was also terrific to watch.

I think that the alternate and original ending to the film can be debated.  I’ve read that critics prefer the original but of course, the one that was reshot and is in the final cut was what was needed to please the audience.  It was great to hear every on the film comment about having to reshoot the scene.

I’m just glad that all special features from the 2007 DVD Special Edition are included on this Blu-ray release.   Although, nothing new added to the Blu-ray, “FATAL ATTRACTION” is still a solid Blu-ray release.

“FATAL ATTRACTION” is a well-done thriller.  The acting is terrific, the screenplay was absolutely captivating and yet terrifying.   For those wanting an excellent thriller for their Blu-ray collection, you can’t go wrong with this film.

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