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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1985
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 108 Minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Mare Winningham, Emilio Estevez, Martin Balsam, Andrew McCarthy, Andie MacDowell
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Music by: David Foster
Written by: Joel Schumacher & Carl Curlander
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 11, 2009

"They thought they'd be friends forever, but forever couldn't last"

Film Synopsis:

Seven friends, recent college graduates, are searching for a place in the real world, as they face issues of career and commitment. Leslie and Alec (Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson) try to save a crumbling romance. Wendy (Mare Winningham), a shy virgin, hides a love for Billy (Rob Lowe), a reluctant father/husband still searching for goals. Kevin (Andrew McCarthy) is a cynical writer who scorns love until he realizes he's in love with his best friend's girl. Kirbo (Emilio Estevez), a law student, obsessively pursues an older woman. The beautiful, neurotic Jules (Demi Moore) paints a poignant picture of life in the fast lane. Against the backdrop of St. Elmo's, their local hang-out, they save, betray and love one another as only the closest of friends can.

My Take:

St. Elmo's fire is a film that I clearly recall seeing theatrically and for me it has nostalgic significance. I am roughly the same age as the members of its cast and when it came out I was at a similar stage in my life. During the mid eighties this cast of characters, more specifically Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy and Demi Moore were featured in a number of films, and became nicknamed the Brat Pack. Actually I found them enjoyable with some being better than others. For me The Breakfast Club was probably the best of the bunch but of course that is debatable. I found this to be good as well but found that its characters were all too darkly drawn. I understood its interpretation of young people trying to find their way in the world while dealing with the complexities of relationships but there was way too much drama. That isn't to suggest that St. Elmo's fire doesn't have merit. There was much to like in the performances of its strong young cast. There was applicable to all seven of the equally billed main players. For me the standouts were Judd Nelson as the ambitious and pragmatic Alec Newbery, Demi Moore as the neurotic, free living and irresponsible Jules and Emilio Estevez as the love struck, fiery and determined Kirby Keger. Pretty much any scene involving Kirby and someone he perceives as coming between him and his quest for the fair maiden Dale Biberman (Andie MacDowell) is priceless. Billy's (Rob Lowe) shallow and callous nature with respect to women, especially Wendy, and his inability to overcome his childish behavior made his character nearly insufferable. The Kevin (Andrew McCarthy), Leslie (Ally Sheedy), and Alec spin is interesting although just a little creepy on Kevin's part. The film convincingly portrays the interpersonal relationship that exists among the characters both independently and as a group. It summarizes their strengths and weaknesses and essentially culminates them in a sort of coming of age epilogue that is ultimately satisfying. Watching it today St. Elmo's Fire still feels very much as it did the first time I saw it. Times change but some of the experiences conveyed in the story still have relevance in terms of dealing with the pressures of coming of age and establishing ones identity. It's been a long time since I have seen it. Seeing the cast looking so young and listening to David Foster's superb music score (which I have owned on CD for years) brought back feelings of nostalgia. This may not be an award winning film but I am sure that it has a special place in the hearts of many. For me it almost felt like a visit to an old friend.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, sensuality, drug references, and thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 78

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:
St. Elmo's Fire comes to Blu-ray from Columbia Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.2 mbps.

This is an excellent high definition video presentation from Sony that appears faithful to this film's original elements. Colors are rich with boldly stated primary colors that have eye pleasing quality and alluring visual penetration. Images are resolute and relatively sharp with an appreciable level of detail and subtle delineation. Certain scenes appear better resolved than others but fidelity was never an issue. Contrast and black levels are stable and I didn't see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent. The soundtrack is almost entirely dialogue driven with the music score being the only other driving element. David Foster's memorable score holds sway over the front soundstage and is presented with excellent imaging and wide dimension. The sound quality is on point and provides clear and concise voice reproduction and articulated front channel separation. The surrounds are used sparingly to broaden depth during exterior scenes and those that take place in the busy environment of St. Elmo's. I found that this mix had a few boisterous moments that were predominantly associated with its music based elements. This pertained more so to the band featured in St. Elmo's bar rather than the film's music score. Balance wasn't overtly affected but during these segments the sound took a strident edge that was noticeable. This is a very minor shortcoming in an otherwise pleasing audio presentation.

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary with Director Joel Schumacher

  • (HD) Joel Schumacher remembers St. Elmo's Fire - 14 minute featurette

  • Original making of featurette - 8 minutes

  • Music video: Man in motion by John Parr

  • 12 deleted scenes

  • (HD) 6 BD previews

  • BD-Live enabled

Final Thoughts:

St. Elmo's Fire is more of a period film than a transcendent one. Its 1980's aesthetic may be readily apparent however some of its components have long reaching relevance. It brings me back to the decade that saw me complete my academic life, drive, get married, and begin my career. Other than the birth of my kids these were the most significant moments in my life. I saw this film at a time where I was at a similar point in life and watching it now harkens back to those days. I haven't seen it in a long time and really enjoyed this revisit. Sony continues to offer quality high definition catalog releases on Blu-ray and this is no exception. The bonus features aren't especially comprehensive but include the original making of featurette, John Parr's popular Man in motion music video, and a recent retrospective by Director Joel Schumacher. This disc/film is certainly worth a rental or if you're a fan will make a welcome addition to your collection.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)

Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen

Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)

Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

1,618 Posts
Being a teenager during the 80s and having able to do graduate school in the same university and enjoying a good time in that bar.. Makes it for me a must buy....

Great review Ralph!

Blu-ray Reviewer
15,763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Originally Posted by gonzalc3 /forum/post/16954458

Being a teenager during the 80s and having able to do graduate school in the same university and enjoying a good time in that bar.. Makes it for me a must buy....

Great review Ralph!


Enjoy Chris!


66 Posts
I too have enjoyed David Foster's score in St. Elmo's Fire for a couple of decades myself, and I never tire of it. I enjoyed this film back in 1985, but like you, have not watched it in several years. No doubt it will finds its way into my BD collection.


1,618 Posts
Finally i was able to watch this movie tonight and it is fantastic...

In terms of pq it looks great considering it's age.. The music score is what steals this movie in the audio department...
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