The Doors Blu-ray Review
|REVIEWS - BLU-RAY REVIEWS|
Oliver Stone’s biopic provides an entertaining, if somewhat messy, trip down memory lane...
To coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the death of iconic front man Jim Morrison, Oliver Stone’s The Doors has received the blu-ray treatment. The film, released in 1991, charts the life of the band’s charismatic lead singer, played by Val Kilmer, from his college years up to his untimely death at the age of 27. Stone’s sprawling biopic benefits from the blu-ray transfer, which brings its brilliant visuals and soundtrack to the forefront.
The Doors' drug-fuelled style resembles Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994). The main difference, however, is that the latter’s kinetic energy was akin to a cocaine head-rush, whereas here the narcotics of choice are psychedelic. The hazy style, cloaked in yellows and reds, were crying out for the high definition treatment. Stone depicts America’s West Coast as a sun-scorched wasteland, which The Doors stumble through on their path to fame. The film’s epic images, in particular a striking acid trip through the Mojave Desert, are awesome to behold.
Then there’s the soundtrack, which even if you are not a fan of the band will have you nodding in agreement in regards to its suitability to the images on screen. Much like ‘The End’ was so integral to the hallucinogenic atmosphere of Apocalypse Now (1979); here the band’s catalogue is the perfect companion to the lucid visuals. The audio is further enhanced by the DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track on the blu-ray, which strengthens the songs that constitute such a fundamental part of the story.
These elements combined make the first and second acts of The Doors up there with the best drugged-out films of all time. Unlike other films of its kind Stone, to his credit, doesn’t allow the imagery to get in the way of the story. His greatest accomplishment is his ability to maintain verisimilitude, whilst piling on the flashbacks and hallucinations.
The third act, however, is an overblown mess - much like Morrison’s fluctuating weight - and the film gradually spirals out of control, growing increasingly stranger as a result. Stone succumbs to the weighty issues of the biopic, drug addiction and self-harm among them, and the film is drained of all visual flourish as a result. Whereas at the start these issues seethed under the surface, toward the end they are in full display and Stone shines a garish light on them. We get the sex, fellatio in a lift, the drugs, heroin addiction, the eccentricities and a spot of paganism; but such is the display that the result feels completely over the top, laced with the bad taste that has come to be associated with Stone’s aggressive style.
The only redeeming feature of the latter half of the film is the rock n roll, in particular the live performances. However, what is really interesting is the tension and energy that runs through every show. As the band gets bigger the shows are increasingly monitored by the police, who are charged with keeping the crowd at bay. Meanwhile, Morrison’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, which the crowd responds to by growing louder. Stone uses these chaotic performances to highlight how revolutionary a band The Doors were; they represented a new generation and disgruntled the old guard, represented by the policemen, as it were.
Although The Doors outstays its welcome, running over the two-hour mark and further signifying that Stone would have benefited from showing some restraint, it remains oddly compelling throughout. A viewer’s enjoyment of the film hinges on their familiarity with the band’s music and history. As many detractors have claimed over the years, the film is not historically accurate and this might upset some of the die-hard fans. The neutrals, however, will find much to enjoy in this entertaining film and even the naysayers should watch it, if only for the visuals.
The disc’s extras include two documentaries but alas no director’s commentary. The latter is made up for, to an extent, with an in-depth look at the production of the film entitled The Road to Excess. Jim Morrison: An American Poet in Paris on the other hand is a French documentary, with English subtitles, about Morrison’s life in Paris. It collects interviews with those who knew him in an effort to investigate his death and in the process offers some revealing insights into the final days of his life.
The Doors is released on Blu-ray R2 on the 18th of April 2011.
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