Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Woody Harrelson as MICKEY KNOX
    Juliette Lewis as MALLORY KNOX
    Robert Downey Jr. as WAYNE GALE
    Tom Sizemore as DET. JACK SCAGNETTI

    Own it on Blu-ray October 13
    Studio: Warner Bros.

    Directed by: Oliver Stone

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Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) are the most notorious mass murderers of the modern age. After a cross-country bloodbath crime spree, they psychotic lovers are caught by the long arm of the law, but soon they find a way to bring their “love” to more people. During their reign of terror, Mickey and Mallory are made celebrities by the heartless media, including tabloid television star Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.). Director Oliver Stone presents his 1994 satire in its original format with all the violence and music restored to his intended cut.

Coming at this film 15 years after it first made a splash in the cinematic pond gives me a different insight. I had original seen this in the wake of the Menendez murders and the O.J. trial, so I was already pissed off at the judicial system and the deification of criminals that the media had perpetrated in the 1990s. However, the satire of this film cut a little too close to the bone for me in the mid-90s, so I didn’t like it much then.

Now, I can come to it with a cooler head. I’m still not a raging fan, but I get what Stone was doing with this film. This was right when he was turning from a standard filmmaker into a big-budgeted art-house director. His use of multi-formats and surreal effects were done very well here, and he does make a strong point with his condemnation of the media.

I can’t remember scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame how the cut I saw in the mid-1990s played out, but Stone assures the viewer in his introduction that everything has been restored. Much of what was edited for the R-rated theatrical cut was violence, and I suppose that today we’re even more desensitized by it. Years of “Hostel” and “Saw” will do that to us.

Watching “Natural Born Killers” fifteen years after it was made gave me an eerie feeling because so much of what was warned about with this film has come true. Tabloid television has changed to reality television, but the message of the film – that sensationalized news can be a dangerous toy – has been realized in 2009 more than ever before.

Watching this unrated version of “Natural Born Killers” made me realize that Oliver Stone made movies at this time like Quentin Tarantino did... only without the humor. They were big budget art films, and at times with this movie the art overpowered the film. There were too many speeches, and the movie got gratuitous not just in violence but in its own self worth.

Plus, the irony of this film does not escape me. After all, many fans of the movie are people who love the violence, which is those he was scolding in the first place. I generally am suspicious of someone shaking his finger at an audience for its love of violence while making one of the most violent movies ever made. Sure, it’s satire, but it sometimes borders on hypocrisy.

The new Blu-ray release includes commentary by Oliver Stone, plus his new introduction to the film that looks back on the phenomenon fifteen years later. There’s a new featurette called “NBK Evolution: How Would It all Go Down No?” and a 44-page booklet about the film (a physical feature that adds value to any Blu-ray, and one that has become popular with Warner Bros. of late).

Additional features include a slate of deleted scenes featuring Ashley Judd, Denis Leary, Rachel Ticotin and the Barbarian Brothers, a Charlie Rose interview with Oliver Stone, an alternate ending and the documentary “Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers.”

Oliver Stone junkies who love his multi-format post-JFK work.

Watch this clip from "Natural Born Killers"

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