Natural Born Killers (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

While it’s true that Oliver Stone might not have quite the touch he did back in the 80’s and early 90’s, I still consider him to be one of the finest flmmakers out there. Not only is he a talented write and director, but he often brings out the best performances in the actors that he employs. A maverick director such as Stone often isn’t afraid to tackle issues or storylines that more mainstream directors won’t even touch, but then again it takes a risk to get a reward. Stone’s 1991 film “JFK” is among my personal favorites and is one of those three hour movies that feels like it goes by in 45 minutes. The acting is strong and the direction solid. With Stone’s next effort behind the camera he attacked the media-obsessed (something that’s gotten far worse since this movie came out) public that we can’t seem to get enough of. “Natural Born Killers” was certainly ahead of its time and typecast normal “nice guy” Woody Harrelson as perhaps one of the nastiest villains that the screen has ever seen.

There’s no real surprise that Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) come from broken homes with abusive parents. Stone’s message is all too clear in this department and again it’s no shock that Mickey and Mallory end up the way we see them in the film. Like a modern day (and much darker) version of Bonnie and Clyde, the two murder Mallory’s parents and a media frenzy is awakened. The papers and tabloids can’t get enough of their antics and this is led by Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.), the most obsessed of them all. Naturally he wants the ratings high, and will stop at nothing to get them. As the duo, or trio as the case may be, continue their killing spree we get a look into their madness and what motivates them. It might beckon back to the tagline of “Bonnie and Clyde”: They’re young, they’re in love and they kill people. Simple as that.

“Natural Born Killers” will certainly polarize viewers in terms of content and sheer graphic violence. While I remember seeing the movie in theaters, it’s a different experience at home. The frenzied images and the jump cut scenes are still effective that give off an eerie vibe to what’s already an overly graphic movie. I’ve read that Stone has described shooting the film as “masturbating with the camera.” Take that however you will, but it does seem a somewhat accurate description of the film and its physical look and feel. Mickey and Mallory aren’t what I’d call anti-heroes, but in a weird sort of way perhaps they are? In the media obsessed world when all we think about are which celebrities are going to name their children, it seems what we follow doesn’t really matter so long as we’re in on the latest news. At what price will we stop for lack of information?

Video: How does it look?

If there’s anything that can be said about the way “Natural Born Killers” looks is that it’s unique. The 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer is the best I’ve seen the film on a home video format and this title has actually traveled to two different studios before finally becoming the property of Warner. The colors are very bright and vivid, though this is contrasted with some of the darker scenes that take place in the desert and some “fantasy” sequences. I noticed no noise or artifacts in the black areas and as stylized as this film is, it’s difficult to get an accurate account of exactly how things should look. I will say that I was hard-pressed to find much wrong with the way this looks on screen. The film isn’t that old and Warner’s done a great job making this Blu-Ry look top notch.

Audio: How does it sound?

The soundtrack has been re-mastered with a Dolby TrueHD mix that sounds, for the most part, outstanding. It’s been about six years since I’d seen “Natural Born Killers” and I don’t recall the audio really wowing me that much, but this new uncompressed mix really hits it out of the park. Dialogue is very clear and rich but what impressed me the most were the surround speakers. It seems that they never stop emanating some sort of disturbing noise. Women screaming, bullets whizzing by and a prison riot are just a few things that come out of your speakers but they will earn their keep with this one. I wasn’t expecting such a robust track, but this Blu-ray really brings out the best audio on the movie.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is now the third of Warner’s “book” Blu-rays with the first being “Bonnie and Clyde” the second “Dirty Harry”. Hey Warner lighten up! Seriously though, the 42 page booklet that comes with the disc is an interesting read and duplicates the visual effect from the movie itself. We get a commentary track by director Oliver Stone that sounds like it’s the same one that’s been used on previous editions of this disc. We get an interview with Oliver Stone on the Charlie Rose show as well as some deleted scenes and the alternate ending (again, no change here). The original theatrical trailer is also included.

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