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LIONS GATE

MOVIE INFO
Director:
Oliver Stone
Cast:
Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan
Screenplay:
Oliver Stone, J. Randal Johnson
Synopsis:
The story of the famous and influential 1960s rock band and its lead singer and composer, Jim Morrison.
Box Office:
Budget: $38 million
Domestic Gross: $35,183,792.
MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 138 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 7/23/2019

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary With Director Oliver Stone
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Doors in LA” Featurette
• “Jim Morrison: Poet in Paris” Documentary
• “The Road to Excess” Documentary
• Original Featurette
• Interview with Director Oliver Stone
• Interview with Audio Mixer Lon Bender
• Trailers, TV Spots and Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Doors [4K UHD] (1991)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 22, 2019)

Although I’ve long loved the music of the 1960s, my emphasis focused on the British bands of the era. Examine the period’s most famous bands, and I adore them all: the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks and the Who remain cherished musical heroes of mine.

My affection never related to the era’s American acts, however. Actually, I like Motown to a moderate degree, but the West Coast rock bands always left me cold. I respect the skill Brian Wilson displayed in the Beach Boys, but I never took much interest in the music.

For me, Jimi Hendrix probably was the best of the rest of the bunch, but for all his incredible talent as a guitarist, he didn’t do much else of interest, as I felt his songs were nothing special. He maintains his place in rock history as perhaps the greatest guitar player of all-time, but I don’t think that he deserves nearly as much credit for other aspects of his music.

Although I’m not wild about Hendrix, he remains easily my favorite of the American acts that emerged in the latter half of the 1960s. The other prominent groups all have virtually no appeal for me.

I’ve disliked the Grateful Dead for many years, and I never cared for others like the Jefferson Airplane either. The less said about the many short-lived psychedelic groups from the period, the better.

Into this category of “overrated bands” I definitely include the Doors. During my teen years, I briefly tried to like them - for the record, I’ve attempted to get into the music of all the acts I’ve discussed - but I could never find much of substance to their rambling, pretentious material.

Apparently Oliver Stone disagrees with me, since he decided to focus on the band during his 1991 rock biopic The Doors. The title offers something of a misnomer since the movie isn’t really about the band. Instead, the emphasis falls strongly on lead singer Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer).

The story briefly touches upon Morrison’s youth, when we witness an incident that allegedly greatly affected his psyche. After that, we skip forward to the mid-Sixties when UCLA film student Morrison befriends fellow cinephile Ray Manzarek (Kyle MacLachlan) and they soon get involved in a band that becomes named the Doors.

Along with singer Morrison and keyboardist Manzarek, we find drummer John Densmore (Kevin Dillon) and guitarist Robbie Krieger (Frank Whaley). The tale of the band’s rise intertwines with Jim’s romantic life.

The latter largely involves Jim’s dealings with Pamela Courson (Meg Ryan), who Morrison eventually marries. This affair doesn’t keep Jim from diddling every other chick he meets, however, with a main emphasis on oddball writer Patricia Kennealy (Kathleen Quinlan). Morrison bopped from woman to woman with little rhyme or reason, at least as depicted in this semi-incoherent film.

I appreciate that Stone confronted a daunting task as he adapted Morrison’s life story for film. Rock biopics are usually very conventional and mostly follow the same path, as we see how the band forms, rises to fame, and eventually dissolves.

This format probably works best with fictional subject matter, such as in That Thing You Do!. Real-life topics require some fidelity to the truth, which restricts options.

Stone clearly wanted to do something different with The Doors, and he indeed creates an unusual rock biography. However, Stone can’t successfully shed the conventions of the genre, so he attempts to work outside the box but these stabs simply make the film rambling and nonsensical at times.

Rather than add to the movie’s sense of freedom and verve, his experiments just lead to an incoherent narrative that leaves the viewer bored and disinterested.

The picture works best when it focuses on the band, but even those moments are erratic. A lot of the problem stems from Stone’s overemphasis on the Morrison character.

We’re usually led to see him as a visionary and the other members of the Doors as reactionary squares who just want to make a buck. Jim wants to “break on through to the other side” but they’d prefer to cash in on their fame through jingles.

This tone isn’t fair to the other Doors and would appear misguided even if it were accurate. Frankly, Morrison just wasn’t terribly talented. His lyrics were laughably pretentious and overblown, and his stage presence seemed obnoxious and self-absorbed.

The band’s songs tended to be overindulgent and long-winded and lacked much substance. I can’t deny some of Morrison’s magnetism, and there’s no question that he was the lead force in the band - at least publicly - but despite what the movie tells us, he wasn’t the entire show.

Probably the strongest aspect of The Doors stems from its performances. For the most part, it’s a well-acted film, with only a few exceptions.

Kilmer got shafted when he didn’t receive an Oscar nomination for his work as Morrison. Kilmer provides a thoroughly convincing and believable performance as the Lizard King and makes him a living person despite Stone’s emphasis on the more sordid aspects of his personality.

Kilmer looks and sounds eerily like Morrison in the film, but his excellent portrayal goes beyond simple impersonation to strongly encompass the character.

Most of the remaining actors do the best with what they get, which isn’t much. As I alluded, the other Doors are little more than cardboard chumps in the movie, and the portrait of Kennealy just shows her as a horny witch – literally. She believes that whole Wiccan deal, and the real Kennealy cameos as a priestess.

Ryan becomes the film’s only seriously miscast participant. She seems radically out of place in the era’s permissive culture and Ryan appears unable to adapt her usual chirpy personality to the sordid activity around her. She feels self-conscious and false in the role, and it becomes extremely hard to understand why Morrison put up with Pamela for so long.

Ultimately, The Doors isn’t a bad film, but it seems excessively long and unfocused. Since those phrases also apply to most of the band’s music, perhaps these tendencies become appropriate, but they leave me cold nonetheless. I appreciate Oliver Stone’s attempts to create something different in this rock biopic, but the end result is fairly unsatisfying.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

The Doors appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a positive rendition of the source.

Overall sharpness worked well, as the majority of the movie showed accurate delineation. Given the movie’s intentionally gauzy look, it wasn’t always super-tight, but it showed appropriate accuracy within stylistic choices.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and the image lacked edge haloes. Grain felt natural, and print flaws remained absent.

In terms of palette, Doors emphasized oranges and reds, with some blues tossed in at times as well. These tones veered hot but didn’t become unmanageable. The 4K UHD’s HDR didn’t seem to add a lot to the hues, however.

Blacks appeared fairly smooth, though they could lean a bit inky at times, and shadows were reasonably good. Some low-light shots appeared slightly dense, but those likely stemmed from the source more than anything else. While never a demo image, the 4K UHD offered a pretty solid take on the movie.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundfield favored used the various channels in an active manner – maybe a little too active in terms of surround material. This mix spread a lot of music to the back speakers, and not always with a positive effect.

Sometimes the use of the rear channels felt smooth and convincing, but other times it seemed awkward and artificial. I couldn’t discern a particular rhyme or reason for these variations, but they meant the soundscape lacked consistency.

At its best, the concert or studio scenes managed to immerse the listener in the music. At its worst, the songs overemphasized the back speakers and felt mushy. There’s more good than bad here, but the ups and downs create an erratic track.

Audio quality was fine. Speech appeared natural and concise, without obvious edginess or other issues.

Music offered good clarity but could’ve boasted better low-end, as bass response seemed a bit lacking. Effects were accurate and full. This wasn’t a bad track but its inconsistencies became an issue.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Visuals offered a clear step up in quality.

The BD was a mess, with edge haloes and a “digital” feel. While not a great-looking presentation, the 4K UHD offered a considerably tighter, smoother picture.

On the other hand, I preferred the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track on the Blu-ray, mainly because it displayed better balance. It integrated music in a more natural way and seemed less gimmicky.

This isn’t a huge difference, and because the picture shows vast improvements, it makes the 4K UHD the superior way to view the film. The erratic soundscape remains a disappointment, though.

This 4K UHD release includes both the film’s theatrical version (2:20:29) as well as a ”Final Cut” (2:18:11). What does the “Final Cut” loses from the theatrical edition?

One entire scene, the “Morrison on the Hotel Ledge” sequence that starts at 2:02:57 gets the boot. In the theatrical version, this segment lasts 2:18, exactly the difference between the two versions.

I didn’t do a running side-by-side comparison of the two versions, so I guess it’s possible other minor variations exist. However, given the fact the “Hotel Ledge” scene neatly fits into the time difference, I suspect it’s the only change from the theatrical version.

Alongside the theatrical version, we find an audio commentary from writer/director Oliver Stone. He presents a running, screen-specific look at the facts of Morrison’s life - and instances where he used creative license – as well as technical aspects of making the film. Stone briefly touches on the ways that the music moved him and other cultural issues, but these stay in the minority.

Expect much more info about Morrison/the Doors than about the filmmaking domains, a factor that makes the commentary a disappointment. Though Stone adopts a professorial air, he doesn’t really tell us that much of substance, and given his loose connection with facts, it becomes tough to trust his historical reflections anyway.

On the occasions when Stone touches on the production, the track improves, but these appear too infrequently. Toss in snatches of dead air and this becomes a lackluster track.

The 4K UHD provides two new segments, and we start with a 2019 Interview with Oliver Stone. In this 31-minute, nine-second chat, Stone discusses how he came to the project as well as cast/performances and various production areas.

This becomes a tighter overview than the commentary, but it also seems erratic, mainly because I still can’t trust Stone’s memories. He makes odd mistakes like his claim that Kilmer impressed him in Weird Science that I find it difficult to know real from Memorex.

We also get an Interview with Audio Mixer Lon Bender. During the 17-minute, 38-second program, Bender examines his work on the redone Atmos soundtrack. The piece becomes a bit dry but Bender delivers some insights.

The package includes the same 2008 Blu-ray disc linked above, and it comes with additional extras. Called The Road to Excess, a 38-minute, 42-second piece combines shots from the film, some footage from the set, and real images of Morrison and the other Doors.

It also features circa 1997 interviews with Stone, actors Val Kilmer, Joanne Whaley and Richard Rutowski, and the real-life Patricia Kennealy and Robbie Krieger. It’s a gloriously honest and up-front work that seems consistently entertaining and compelling.

The participants shed a lot of light on the production and also just how realistic its depictions were. Apparently Kennealy remained cheesed about the way she was portrayed, and justifiably since Stone made her character a composite of a bunch of women. The program flew by due to the excess of fascinating information, and it’s a terrific piece.

14 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 43 minutes, 36 seconds of excised footage. Note that the running time includes an introduction from Stone that briefly discusses each piece and indicates why he made his choices.

Many of the snippets offer extended versions of existing scenes. A few seem interesting and might have merited inclusion - especially a scene in which Morrison cries after sex with a couple of teenage girls - but for the most part, Stone made the right choice.

The movie runs too long as it is, and these pieces would have added to the slowness. Nonetheless, it’s fun to see them here.

We find a six-minute, 19-second original featurette that aired around the time of the film’s 1991 theatrical release. Essentially it’s a glorified trailer that mainly promotes the movie, though it adds some mildly interesting sound bites and some good shots from the set. These elements are good enough to merit a watch, but don’t expect anything terrific from the program.

The Doors In LA lasts 19 minutes, 37 seconds and offers notes from Stone, Krieger, band member John Densmore, Rock Odyssey author Ian Whitcomb, I’m with the Band author Pamela des Barres, music industry publicist Laura Kaufman, and Three Dog Night keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon. “LA” offers a quick history of the Doors, and it does an efficient enough job of this.

A French documentary, Jim Morrison: A Poet in Paris goes for 52 minutes, eight seconds and presents info from author/composer/performer Phil Steele-Trainer, author/composer Philippe Dalecky, historian Herve Luxardo, author/composer/actor Jean-Luc Debattice, music producer Gilles Yepremyan, French fan club president Nicolas Lejeune, coroner Michele Rudler, and director/actor Laurent Sauvage. “Poet” tells us about Morrison’s late in life stay in Paris and aspects of his time there.

While it comes with some decent notes, “Poet” mostly takes a lot of time to tell us a little. We tend to hear more about the speakers and their thoughts about Morrison’s work than about Morrison himself. That makes this a passable but slow documentary.

The disc opens with ads for Rambo, Liquid, Belly, 3:10 to Yuma and Crank. We also get a trailer for Doors and five TV spots.

While The Doors is a fairly weak movie as a whole, at least it tried to be something different and gave us an unusual experience. Granted, it fails to achieve most of its goals, but the film offers some moments of interest, largely due to a strong performance by Val Kilmer. The 4K UHD brings pretty good picture and a nice set of supplements but audio seems inconsistent. I don’t think much of the film, but the 4K UHD turns into its best rendition.

To rate this film visit the prior review of THE DOORS

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main