Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Drama > Thriller > Natural Born Killers (1994/Blu-ray/Warner Home Video)

Natural Born Killers (1994/Blu-ray/Warner Home Video)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B     Film: B-



The year 1994 was a really interesting one for filmmaking.  It marked one of the few times that I can recall tons of hype being offered to two films for their violence alone, those two films would be none other than Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, which is based on a story by Tarantino.  Since that time both films have grown from cult films and icons of the 90’s to critical and commercial successes and it’s really no surprise to fans of both filmmakers.


By the time Natural Born Killers arrived Oliver Stone was coming off some of his best work, namely JFK.  This film would only be rivaled a year later by the directors epic Nixon, which still to this day is a highly underrated masterpiece of film. In many respects NBK would be a departure from doing several war films (Platoon, Born on the 4th of July, and Heaven & Earth), but it would also serve as a film that seemed more like Stone speaking out, rather than just showing his views of things through real events in history. 


It’s obvious through this film that the media and the hype that comes from that is the focal point as we see a honeymoon couple go on a violent killing spree, which is predominately caused by their dysfunctional upbringing.  The film quickly reminds me of Bonnie and Clyde mixed with Leonard Kastle’s seldom seen The Honeymoon Killers.  One of the more interesting casting choices here was putting Woody Harrelson in the lead role as a senseless killer, who has wit and charm as he woos innocent Juliette Lewis into his world of brutality, but yet at the same time she is just as violent and unstable as he is.  Together they are Mickey and Mallory Knox and in no time the media is in a frenzy over their trail of bloodshed, but this couple is having a hard time keeping their love together as things spiral out of control. 


It’s both refreshing and disappointing at the same time as this is one of Stone’s more ambitious films, yet fails to have the resolution, depth, and deep character study that his more successful and established films are.  While one can appreciate his willingness to try something else there are just certain films that are not easy to make and execute well.  This is one of those films that starts off really great, but ends up not really knowing what to do with itself once it realizes that it needs to go somewhere.  Since its release Stone has rarely been able to regain his knack with 1995’s Nixon really being his last great film.  U-Turn was a sloppy mess, Any Given Sunday had great potential, but was too obvious in its agenda, Alexander showed great promise, but failed to reach its epic proclamation. Perhaps his greatest failure was his 2006 film World Trade Center, which not only trivialized the events of September 11th, but even attempted humor in the most bizarre and inappropriate places.  


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 image looks good overall, although I should quickly point out that this film was shot with a variety of cameras and film stocks.  Panavision cameras and lenses were used for the 35mm portions of the film, but in order to create a gritty feel Stone and cinematographer Robert Richardson went with filming some segments in 16mm and 8mm as well.  Richardson is one of the few cameraman that can pull this off well and has worked on almost every Stone film to date as well as notable work with Martin Scorsese on Casino, Bringing Out the Dead, The Aviator, and the most recent Shine A Light, plus he has worked on projects like Tarantino’s Kill Bill series.  It’s fair to say his resume is highly respectful and his work here showcases that just as well and makes this film work from a visual standpoint.  This film not only contains 35mm, 16mm, and 8mm scenes, but also a few video segments that are standard NTSC ‘news’ segments. 


One thing that should be pointed out here is that despite how good 35mm Panavision looks, the 16mm and 8mm segments should not be overlooked when in the hands of a masterful cameraman, which is the case here.  The film accomplishes a lot with it’s variety of film formats and achieves the gritty and amateur-ish style that fits and makes sense, which has led to many failed attempts of this same effect ever since.  Overall the Betacam SP, scooptic 16, spherical 35mm, and Super 8 translate well onto Blu-ray in 1080p fashion.  I was surprised by the color fidelity overall and the saturated look at times, not only is detail sharp and defined, but very 3-D at times.  The character of the film stocks is never loss, in fact they are greatly enhanced over the DVD’s that have been released over the years, which were far too pixilated and smudgy with their transfers. 


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is as impressive as the overall picture quality and while both will never necessary be ‘reference quality’ they do perform well enough on Blu-ray and certainly out-perform all previous home video releases.  Sonically the film is never that challenging, so dialogue is heavily in the front with music and other effects filling the surround stage during appropriate times. 


This appears to be (with it’s 119 minute runtime) the same as the theatrical cut that was first pressed to the 12” LaserDisc, VHS and eventually the first run of DVD’s, which later on was issued to DVD in a ‘Directors Cut”, which ran about 4 minutes longer and contains footage that inevitable had to be cut in order to retain the “R” rating certificate.  Most of them are quick extensions to the violent scenes and really only make the film more graphic.  It’s a shame that with the storage abilities of Blu-ray that both versions were not available on this release, despite the fact that additional scenes and an alternate ending are included as part of the extras.  Fans will mostly be disappointed as one of the aspects of this film that sells is the violent nature of it and cutting out some of that will make it feel less complete. 


Stone provided both a commentary and an introduction to the deleted scenes for the film, which are likely the same from the DVD release, there is also a Charlie Rose Show interview segment and theatrical trailer for the film.  There is a really great booklet that serves as the Blu-ray packaging and contains some great stills and loads of information about the film, which is a nice addition to this set and this will perhaps make up for the non-Directors Cut version arriving on Blu-ray first.



-   Nate Goss


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com