171 of 180 people found the following review helpful
Basic Instinct is certainly a film that has not only aged well with time, it makes you wish they could still make a sexy erotic thriller this good today. With so much political correctness going on these days, a film like Basic Instinct would never be made quite the same way, had it been made today. Attacked while it was being filmed for it's quote "negative depictions of the Gay community" as well as a so called "date rape" scene, the film became controversial practically the day it became green lit.
Sharon Stone became an overnight sensation portraying the rich, seductive & powerful Catherine Tramell, a role that seemed tailor made for the actress. But in fact director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) had to fight hard to prove to both Carolco Pictures and actor Michael Douglas that she was in fact the only person suited for the role. Having worked with Stone on his last picture, Total Recall (1990), Verhoeven knew that Stone had something special to give to the part and he finally got that message through to all those mentioned. I'd go so far to say that with the exception of her Oscar nominated performance in Martin Scorsese's Casino, Catherine Tramell is still Sharon Stone's best performance.
So what's the big deal between the R-rated & Unrated versions of Basic Instinct? Basically a little more violence and a little more sex. There's more stabs with the ice pick in the Unrated version (about 3 or 4), more shots of the victim actually being stabbed (courtesy of a man made puppet designed by Rob Bottin) and that's about it for the violence. The added sex has mainly to do with the first encounter between Michael Douglas's Nick Curran, and Sharon Stone's Catherine Tramell. The added scenes are hot & very well done, but overall, the result is still the same. The only other difference is the Unrated version includes an audio commentary with director Paul Verhoeven and director of photography Jan De Bont. This commentary is not available on the R-rated version. But both versions do include the 2nd commentary by Feminist critic, Camille Paglia, who praises the film as one of her all time favorite movies. Her commentary is quite informative and really gave me a lot of insight into the film that I never noticed before. Those of you who own the Special Edition Laserdisc that came out a few years back should be urged not to get rid of it. It's special features are quite different from those on these DVD versions. Even the Paul Verhoevan Commentary is different from the one on the DVD. Plus the DVD doesn't give you the option of viewing the final shot of the film with the alternate scoring conducted by Jerry Goldmith, although it is shown during the making of documentary. Still worth keeping.
I personally love how much the movie feels like an Alfred Hitchcock film. The dress Sharon wheres for the interrogation scene is very similar to the one Kim Novak wore in Vertigo. There are many references to Vertigo in the film, as well as The Birds, North By Northwest, Rear Window and a few others. This adds a lot of class to the picture that only enhances its creativeness. It may be a long time before another picture comes close to matching it.
Basic Instinct..destined to become a classic!
"I hate rugrats". - Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell
72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2004
Basic Instinct is a guilty pleasure. I love this film, and have had the Unrated Director's Cut on VHS for many years. I bought the so-called Collector's Edition (included the ice pick pen) a while back and returned it because it missed quite a bit of footage. Recently, I tried again---and this time it was ice pick bingo! (Who needs the pen, anyway?) The Unrated Director's Cut is listed on Amazon as an unrated special edition (Special Edition - Unrated) which "contains scenes the director was forced to cut." There is no image available. You can identify the DVD as Artisan's release, ASIN B00005N919. Make no mistake, THIS IS THE VERSION TO BUY. I also highly recommend the soundtrack on compact disc. Jerry Goldsmith's music is haunting, and one of the best scores ever composed for film.
135 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2006
I will dispense with the standard plot synopsis and, for the most part, a review of this movie. 14 years later, most of us looking at a special edition "Basic Instinct" DVD already like it enough to at least show interest in possibly buying this. My question was, is it worth it to replace my old "Basic Instinct" DVD with a new one?
By my count this is the 4th DVD transfer of this film (there was a bare-bones DVD of the theatrical release, then a special edition with extras, then the unrated directors cut special edition with the same extras (that one had the dumb "ice pick box," but was eventually, and is now, available in a standard box whose cover art looks just like all the other releases (including the original VHS release): All white box, torso-and-up shot of Stone and Douglas whith her clawing his back), and now this one that still retains that same image of the stars, but now it is inside the lettering of the title).
I mention this for two reasons.
The first may not matter much to amazon and other on-line shoppers, but here's what happened to me while walking around Best Buy today: I already owned the "bare-bones" version (I picked it up for 5 bucks brand new at least 5 years ago, so this has never been a movie one needed to drop a lot on to own), but I wanted the unrated director's cut I saw advertised in the Best Buy weekend circular. I picked it up off the shelf and saw there was the older '02 special edition release right next to it for $5.99. I was not crazy about spending $15 (not that that is a terrible price, mind you) on a movie I already owned so I decided to go with the '02 version (I'll get to the comparison between the two in a moment - that is reason #2). I got home and found out it was the special edition alright, but it was the original theatrical version. It had extras and such, but the point of replacing the thing in the first place was to get the director's cut. So I went back to Best Buy and, sure enough, because the boxes look the same except for a tiny-worded "director's cut" in the bottom corner, I grabbed the wrong one. The director's cut was there and it to was also only $5.99 (and because of some additional sale I was unaware of it rang up as something like $4.40). So BE CAREFULl WHEN SELECTING A VERSION OF THE FILM. The ice-pick box, dumb as it looked on the DVD shelf, seems to be gone so there is no easy way to tell all these apart. You gotta do a little reading. "Special Edition" doesn't automaticly mean "director's cut." (Especially for a DVD that has had as many similar - and similar looking - releases as this one.)
That's my first point. The second is to inform you that, in comparing this new version "special edition director's cut" with the $5 version I got, the only difference, besides the newly arranged cover art, is that there is an interview and an introduction by Sharon Stone. That's it. Other than that, it has the same bonuses, commentaries, etc. And that is said if that even matters to you in the first place. If you just want the movie, there is no reason to opt for this new, more expensice release; or if you already have the director's cut, replace it with this one - unless you really want to hear from Sharon Stone (that's her now, mind you, not 1992 - I'm just sayin'...)
So why was this made then? "Basic Instinct 2" hits theatres in a few weeks. I'll reserve judgment on that move until I see it, but I can judge this as a cash grab. I'm not angry though. "Basic Instinct" is hardly the first film to pull this stunt and I almost wish that some of the movies I really loved had just one "special edition" or update from its first DVD incarnation, not to mention 4 or more. I would just hope there would be something that sets them apart from the previous version.
That's not the case here.
* One quick observation I could not resisit mentioning: It is ironic that a movie as notorious for its graphic sex and violence as "Basic Instinct" that the Amazon info lists its rating as simply "Unrated for drug use and laguage." :)
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Forget the rated version of BASIC INSTINCT. It's white-washed and missing graphic scenes of sex and violence that make the movie what it is. Sharon Stone plays the devil ... yes, Paul Verhoven admits that she is the the devil incarnate as a blonde ice-pick weilding bisexual psychotic who tempts and outsmarts every single person in the cast! Priceless here in DVD land is Camille Paglia's radical feminist take on the movie. She's fast and funny describing BASIC INSTINCT as a movie where women take back their sexual power! Come inside and check out the steamiest erotic thriller ever! Political correctness means it could never be made today. Trashy, yes! But also very well done and stylish. Sharon Stone became a star, and Michael Douglas never quite recovered. See why!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
There are a plethora of reviews of the movie, but my review is a comparison of the BD vs DVD version. The BD version is by far, the best version released. The video can be described as being cleaner, but not the eye popping sharpness one sees in other BD releases compared to their similar DVD versions. I cannot be sure this is from a generally soft focus used by cinematography or sub-par digital mastering. Audio has superior imaging and dynamic range. Some detail revealed is far greater and somewhat of a let down such as Ms. Stone's makeup is excessive, she is far more attractive in her 'audition' reels shown on the BD extras.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2006
This Ultimate Edition could have been the definitive edition, had it been produced a little differently.
First, with the exception of the two new Sharon Stone items, Intro and Commentary, it is the same as the "IcePick" Unrated Director's Cut that came out some years ago. When I mean "IcePick", I'm talking about the release that came in the clear plastic case with a little bonus metal icepick.
Second, the movie's video and audio quality are also the same as that IcePick version. Which means passable, but not great.
This is where my biggest gripe with this item is located. The video and audio quality.
What would have made this a truly "Ultimate" Edition would have been if they had made it a 2-disc edition, one disc with only the movie, and the other all the bonus features. Many current releases do it this way.
As it stands, a one-disc version of a movie that is slightly over two hours (2 hours 8 minutes more exact) along with all the bonus material means that the video bitrate of the movie is limited to no more than an average of 5.0 Mbps.
A 2 hour movie can be encoded at 9.8 Mbps (almost the theoretical maximum) if placed entirely on a DVD-9 RSDL disc.
The difference between 9.8 Mbps and 5.0 Mbps is huge, as long as the source material is high enough quality to take advantage. Since this edition says "newly remastered widescreen version" I would think the original video quality would be such.
In addition, we are still stuck with Dolby Digital 5.1 448 Kbps for the audio. But with the extra storage that comes with a two-disc edition, they could have increased the audio quality to DD-EX 6.1 and DTS 6.1 formats.
Had they done that with this "Ultimate" edition, making it a two-disc extravaganza and increased the video and audio bitrates, this would have truly been the final, must-own version of this film.
So therefore, if you already have an Unrated Director's Cut version of this film, there is no need to purchase this "Ultimate" edition, unless you absolutely have to have those two extra Sharon Stone features. The movie itself is the exact same material.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2000
I have read the other comments about this film and frankly....what's wrong with you people? The Directors UNCUT version is the BEST version of this film and it truly gives this film the due justice it deserves. I have seen the original version MANY times and this version just makes more sense. It's just like the Uncut/Unrated version of GIA. When you see the original version and then the UNCUT...it's like night and day. The film isn't "choppy" and you really get to understand the character development the writer intended. I highly recommend this version and suggest you purchase it and decide for yourself. If you're a Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas fan...this is some of their best work! REALLY.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2005
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
After watching the new DVD of the uncut & uncensored version of the 1992 erotic-thriller Basic Instinct, I was surprised at how well the movie has aged. I also noticed that it doesn't seem quite as shocking as far as the sex scenes & subject matter are concerned as it originally did when it was in theaters.
When this film was originally released in the U.S. back in 1992 (in edited R-rated form), it ignited a firestorm of controversy in which gay alliances blasted the film saying that it painted homosexuals as nothing but murderous psychopaths. Women's groups also said that the movie was extremely misogynistic as well. I never could really see what everyone was complaining about, since the women in the movie are actually the ones with all of the control and power. As it for portraying homosexuals in a negative light, I also disagree. But that's old news.
Now that the initial debate about the movie has pretty much died, Basic Instinct can now be seen as what it was strictly meant to be, which is one of the best erotic thrillers to be released by a major hollywood studio. It has its problems at times, but for what it tried to do, it succeeds extremely well.
The now well-known plot (that I won't give too much away from in case someone hasn't seen it yet) involves Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) and Guss (George Dzundza) who are detectives in San Francisco investigating the brutal murder of a former rock star and nightclub owner Johnny Boz (Bill Cable). Johnny was brutally stabbed repeatedly with an icepick during sex at the moment of climax while he was tied up. The prime suspect is the beautiful, intelligent and mysterious Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), an author of erotic murder mysteries who was also Johnny's girlfriend. It seems that her most recent book has a part in which a vicious murder happens that is strikingly similar to Johnny Boz's murder. Nick has had a troubled history as a cop that has included cocaine and alcohol abuse, and accidentally shooting an couple of innocent tourists during a botched stakeout (for which he was cleared of all charges). He has regular meetings with the local police psychiatrist Elisabeth Garner (Jeanne Tipplehorn) with whom he had an intense relationship with at one point. He's also being kept under the watchful eye of Internal Affairs due to his checkered past. During the investigation, Nick finds himself becoming extremely attracted to Catherine, much to everyone's dismay. Catherine is also bisexual and lives with a beautiful lesbian named Roxy (Leilani Sarelle). The movie ends up piling red herrings on top of red herrings, and some characters end up not being quite who they seemed to be at first. The plot barrels along to an abrupt conclusion that will likely make people scratch their heads and utter a collective "huh?!".
This was Dutch director Paul Verhoeven's third American film after his breakout success with 1987's cult-classic Robocop and the equally ultraviolent 1990 sci-fi Schwarzenegger vehicle Total Recall. He has stated in many interviews that one of his favorite filmmakers of all time is Alfred Hitchcock. He viewed Basic Instinct as his chance to make a Hitchcockian type film but with some explicit sexual content that caused audiences (especially those in the U.S.) to sit up and take notice.
The infamous sex scenes in the movie caused a great stir since they combine both sex and violence in sometimes jarring doses. A perfect example is when Nick and Elisabeth begin to passionately make out in her apartment. What starts out as very erotic turns savage when Nick borderline rapes her while entering her from behind. Another would be the opening shot showing an unknown woman having sex with Johnny on his bed. She is on top of him and eventually ties up his hands while he sucks and kisses one of her nipples. After tying them, she starts to bring them both to orgasm before stabbing him repeatedly in the face and neck with an ice pick.
That scene is what really makes the central sex scene between Catherine and Nick so memorable since she also ties up his hands (after some truly carnal activity) and proceeds to mimic the opening scene. The audience I originally saw this movie with in theaters were literally gasping with breath since what started out as erotic quickly turned very tense. It's also nice to see that this movie showed that sexualy explicit material can also be integral to a movie's plot since we're waiting to see if she is going to kill Nick like how Johnny was killed at the beginning. The audience ends up not concentrating as much on the explicit sexual activity as they are what Catherine's planning to do to Nick.
The film features some truly gorgeous and moody cinematography by Jan de Bont (who would become a director in his own right with Twister and Speed). Every shot is carefully lit and the lighting is especially great during Nick and Catherine's big sex scene.
The music gets a little bit overdramatic at times, but overall really helps to accentuate the film's brooding feel quite nicely.
All of the actors do fine work. Michael Douglas is his usual solid self, and George Dzundza adds some much welcomed comic relief as Nick's flustered detective partner Gus. Jeanne Tipplehorn looks great, but her character isn't quite as large as the others, but she does great work with what she had to work with. The rest of the cast are also good. Some of the performances have a quirky tongue-in-cheek quality to them that helps to lighten up the film at various points.
But the movie belongs to Sharon Stone. In addition to looking absolutely gorgeous in every scene she's in, Sharon also does a tremendous acting job that got somewhat overlooked by people due to the full-frontal nudity and explicit simulated sex scenes she performed in the film. Her character Catherine really knows how to manipulate people to her advantage and some of the subtle changes she brings in various scenes are truly stupendous. I don't think that I haven't seen many films in which an actress has brought such a natural smoldering sensuality to a role like she did in this. Her work in the infamous interrogation room sequence is a tour-de-force.
The plot is what brings this movie down a bit at various points. Written by Joe Eszterhas (before he ended his career with Showgirls), the movie strikes a pretty good balance for the most part. But there are places where it is evident that he got a little more caught up in the sexual excesses of the story instead of supplying a completely coherent plot. This is most evident in the movie's conclusion that raised a lot of debate since it was kind of vague as to who the killer actually was. This isn't Shakespeare, and it does get a little silly at parts, but overall his script gets the job done (even if it is a bit similar to Jagged Edge at times, which he also wrote.) I wish the ending had been a little more fleshed out since it feels just a bit rushed during the final stretch.
I really don't think that they exploited the whole lesbian angle nearly as much as they could have. People who blast the film for supposedly putting homosexuals and women in a negative light are really missing the point of the movie IMO.
It's been close to 10 years since this film was originally released, and it has aged pretty well. Since this movie, there have been numerous other films that have pushed the envelope much more than this movie did, so now it doesn't seem quite as shocking as it initially did. While it is nowhere near Hitchcock, the fact that they implemented that feel and style into this movie really helped to elevate it and make it much more than just erotic trash.
The plot doesn't hold up all the way through, but overall I rank Basic Instinct near the top of it's genre. My 4 (actually make that 4 1/2) star rating is based purely on comparing this movie to other films like it. Sure, if you start comparing this movie to Saving Private Ryan or Gandhi, it's going to not seem that great. But taken for what it is, it is one of the best and a great showcase for Sharon Stone. The combination of violence, explicit sex and sexual ambiguity make Basic Instinct one of the best guilty pleasure films ever made.
The recent special edition DVD is chock full of extras. In addition to a commentary track featuring Paul Verhoeven and Jan de Bont, there is also one in which a feminist critic actually ends up praising the film (and she does a great job explaning why.) Anyone who has labled the film as misogynistic would be wise to hear her comments. There are also segments showing the differances between the butchered network T.V. version and the original cut and the expected interviews with the cast and crew. Also, it's presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. If you have ever tried watching this film in pan/scan, the widescreen DVD is most welcome indeed!
I strongly recommend checking out the unrated director's cut of the this movie versus the censored R-rated version. The unrated cut is much more explicit but also seems more appropriate and smooth.
Basic Instinct the director's cut is not rated and contains explicit sexual content, nudity, graphic violence and strong language.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2001
I doubt that Artisan even bothered to remaster this DVD release -- it looks like it was either 1) taken directly from the Laserdisc master or (and most likely) 2) taken from a general release print (not the original print) of the movie. What a shame -- Artisan usually produces some great DVD packages, but not this time. Save your . . . money. . . and wait until a better DVD transfer hits the shelves...
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2002
i know i'm not supposed to, but i love this movie.
the real reason is sharon stone, who does seem to have a habit of selecting movies in which she is the only interesting actor. this is somewhat true of basic instinct; it is definitely her "star vehicle," and the whole movie is built around her very convincing show of sexual power. (you can see it even in her screen tests - examples of which are included on the dvd - although she had yet to nail the essential condescending cruelty of the character at this early stage.) the plot is completely unreasonable, as verhoeven himself admits: catherine trammel is literally clairvoyant to plan out her crimes with such impossible foresight. but stone convinces you to "suspend your disbelief." and even though you know she's guilty of a slew of heinous and inhuman killings, you want her to get away with it. crazy huh.
but the other actors are all up to par here; michael douglas is always convincing as a raving lunatic, jeanne tripplehorn pulls off her vaguely repressed-bisexual yet fundamentally well-intentioned psychiatrist, leilani sarelle serves up a male fantasy version of a homicidal butch/lipstick lesbian, and dorothy malone even drops in for a turn as an impulse-murderess grandma.
yes, basic instinct is derivative; the san francisco setting, the score, and catherine's interrogation-scene getup are straight out of vertigo, as has been belabored to death. but this girl is more diabolical in her sleep than kim novak on her worst day. the movie is beautifully shot throughout...you can think of it as a vertigo remix with soft-core porn, slasher violence and drugs thrown in for kicks.
the accompanying icepick-shaped pen writes in blood-red ink. tasteless.