14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Calling this movie "The Doors" is misleading. It would be more accurate to call it "Jim Morrison and Those Other Guys In the Band," since that is how it's presented.
It's always tempting to latch onto a rock legend in these rock biopics, and Oliver Stone clings like a limpet to the ghost of Jim Morrison. Acid-soaked scenery and mysticism are in every scene, but Stone seems content to wallow in the rock'n'roll debauchery rather than get into Morrison's head.
It opens with a voiceover of Jim Morrison's poetry, as we slowly fade into a stalled recording session. Then it flips back to 1949, as Morrison's family drives through the desert. The boy catches a glimpse of several Indians by the road -- and one of them dies as the family leaves.
Then it flips ahead to Morrison's (Val Kilmer) years at college -- he crashes a party for a pretty girl, makes arty films, acid-trips, and devotes himself to poetry. Then his pal Ray Manzarek (Kyle McLachlan) creates a rock band, with Morrison's poetry and voice as the centerpiece. Soon The Doors become a fixture in L.A. -- and then a famed band.
But as the Doors become more famous, Morrison increasingly loses himself in the messianic-Dionysian-rocker role that has been set out for him. He weds a witch-journalist (Katherine Quinlan) but loves his fey girlfriend Pamela (Meg Ryan). And when he outrages the authorities with the threat of public exposure, the spiral starts that will only lead to death.
Stone certainly knew how to evoke the golden ages of rock'n'roll. Lots of sex, kinetic concerts, and bizarre behavior where Morrison jumps up on platforms and screams, "I am the Lizard King! I can do anything!" The whole movie just kind of sweeps you off your feet.
And Stone is quite brilliant with the direction. The movie is filmed like an acid trip -- shifting multicoloured skies, Indian ghosts, shadows on the sand, and eerie lighting. And it touches on other aspects of the late sixties -- the Factory, Nico, and the belief that something violent and beautiful was about to erupt.
Unfortunately, Stone seems so enamored of the atmosphere that he never quite gets around to making a biopic. The other Doors are relegated to a frame for Morrison's bizarre behavior, and after the first half hour, they basically fade away. And he gets too enamored of his own style with the Indian ghost, and the arty "dead man" final scenes.
Val Kilmer does a shockingly good job with the languid, unpredictable energy of Morrison. He sings well too. Sadly, his performance is stuck in a one-note character -- Stone opts to potray him just as a random, sleazy, wild jerk, and we don't get a single insight into his thoughts. Sure, Morrison could be horrible. But this is Jim Morrison as rock cliche, not as a human being.
And sadly, none of the other actors get much chance to expand on their roles -- the other Doors actors, including MacLachlan, basically play slightly annoyed accessories, and Meg Ryan plays a sweet girl without many other dimensions. Although Crispin Glover has a tiny, memorable role as Andy Warhol.
"The Doors" opens into a beautiful psychedelic movie, but Stone fails to give it a soul. It's a fun biopic full of the sixties atmosphere, but it never quite manages to be much more.
40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2007
"Pam joined him three years later . . ." is on my copy of the 15 Year Anniversary Edition; the movie is the same as the Special Edition.
The packaging and menus are updated and look great. Substantially better than the special edition.
On to the 2 new features.
The Doors in L.A. - 20 minute feature; Robbie Krieger, John Densmore, (yaaay!), Jimmy Greenspoon, and Pamela Des Barres are the prominent interviews on camera here. Nothing earth shattering, but it's nice to see/hear John Densmore's abridged opinions.
The Jim Morrison Phenomena in Paris - it's interesting. You've got a handful of people who met JDM in Paris and hung out; they describe his mood and what he was (arguably) saying at the time. There's a French librarian who breaks down a lot of the parallels in the subtleties of the lyrics w/Greek literature. There's a somewhat annoying 20 something saying Jim was done with music and The Doors and blah, blah, blah that isn't substantiated w/anything. There is an interview w/Michelle Rudler, who is listed as "Coroner" who says lots of things were done wrong in the documentation of Morrison's death. It's about 50 minutes.
All of the extras on the Special Edition are here as well.
So in conclusion, if you are looking to purchase The Doors movie on DVD, by Oliver Stone, this is the one to get. The movie is entertaining enough but, you know, it's fictional and not historically accurate enough to garner more than 3 stars from this reviewer.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2008
The Doors suffers the same problems that Stone's other films about real people and events (JFK and Nixon) do; Stone uses the docu-drama format as a license to condense times and events, while simultaneously inventing composite characters and situations that never existed. All too often, these films, while containing exciting filmic and visual elements, ring a bit hollow.
The upside of The Doors is the performance of Val Kilmer, who threw himself into the role with ferocity and conviction; that he comes up short in the end isn't due to his acting abilities as much as the choice of episodes and Morrison's characteristics (both real and invented) that Stone chose to film. Simply put, Stone's Morrison comes across as little more than a sporatically gifted poet who sublimates his poetic callings to all the cliched rock star trappings. Perhaps this does describe some of Morrison's personality to a degree, but after seeing Morrison get stoned, drunk and act like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum for 2 hours plus, one wonders if Oliver thought of Morrison as basically an obnoxious drunk (possessed by the soul of a bald, silly-looking, half-naked dead indian that continually wanders around the movie) and, if so, what it was that turned Stone onto making the film in the first place...
The downside, in addition to the lack of scope regarding Morrison, comes in the numerous episodes that never happened (The Doors tripping on acid in the desert, Patricia Kennealy being present at the New Haven show Morrison got arrested at, Particia Kennealy and Pam Courson having a catfight, Buick actually making a commercial using the song Light My Fire and Jim finding out about it by watching tv, Jim setting fire to his and Pam's house while Pam was smacked up in the closet...and on and on). Also, the years of 1967 to early 1969 take up about an hour and a half of the movie, while the remainder of 1969 through to mid 1971 take about twenty minutes.
It's a shame that Stone went to such trouble to set up and film some great concert sequences, and Kilmer really made a terrific attempt at playing Morrison, but in the end both were content to rest the character on both the various myths about the singer and the confirmed instances of Morrison at his drunken worst. A well-shot film that, in the end, has little to do with reality.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
'The Doors' were one of the greatest rock and roll bands of the sixties and the quintessential California group of the decade. They so embodied the West Coast counterculture experience that viewing this biographical film about Jim Morrison and The Doors also provides a fascinating view of the cultural and spiritual forces that drove Jim and that entire generation to challenge the status quo of the American mainstream.
What exactly is the true story of the life and death of Jim Morrison? Is it the story of one of the many rebellious young adults of the time who in looking for an alternative way of living got lost along the way in the drugs, alcohol and sexual freedom that so dominated that culture? Or is Jims' story a deeply mystical tale announcing the rebirth of ancient shamanism into the collective consciousness of the twentieth century? The story of someone chosen by the spirits to bring the 'old ways' to a new generation looking for something to fill the spiritual void brought about by the loss of belief in the Christian God?
Director Oliver Stone has played the mythmaker to perfection in this amazing film providing us with the unique experience of entering into the American Dreamtime. Layering mundane worldly events intermitently with glimpses of the psychic, shamanic forces motivating those events we are given the opportunity to chose for ourselves what level of reality we are willing, or ready to accept. A truly remarkable accomplishment.
As for the performance of Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison, it couldn't have been better. His ability to capture both the physcial appearance and dark persona of the legendary rock star so completely is beyond extraordinary. Without question Val was born to play this role.
Did Jim really believe he was the "Electric Shaman" called by the spirits to open the "Doors of Perception" to a sleeping world? Was he Dionysus reborn, here to use his suggestive music and lyrics to arouse his followers and bring to fruition his new 'Rites of Spring' with "Golden copulations in the streets of L.A." More likely he was playing the part of the mischevious Indian 'Trickster' leading us once again in the wrong direction. Maybe it's just like his Mother said long ago while the old Indian lay dying along the roadside in the California desert. "It's just a dream Jimmy, that's all it is."
So relax, show no fear, "Kiss the Snake" and enjoy the ride!
25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2005
Hey, I know I'm in the minority in my opinion here on Amazon, yet I will state unequivocally my view that the portrayal of Jim Morrison, his common-law wife Pamela Courson, the group, and even the supporting cast of regulars in The Doors Universe come off like characters in search of a serious screenwriter.
Come on already, Oliver. Who could sympathize with Jim and Company when they spew out lines of dialogue clipped, of all places, from Morrison's song lyrics? Did you actually think an audience would accept Jim uttering such discordant lines in an everyday conversation? Could you not separate the man from the performer? Because of that awful bit of writing, Jim comes off like a buffoon, not an erudite talent who, despite a lifetime of loneliness, alienation, and addictive tendencies (which would ultimately snuff out his life), still managed to push aside material comfort for a pursuit of the truth as he saw it.
Also, how come Jim revels in such horrible psychobabble? Had you not gleamed the interviews (available through Bright Midnight and other retailers) you'd hear an incredibly bright, articulate young man who lamented the day he elected to be part of a rock and roll band. You'd also have the makings of excellent drama, as a man who cannot escape his fame and a man who longed to create films and poetry in his own right.
How could one ever sympathize with a drunken lout (YOUR Jim) who acts like an ass (seems more like Val Kilmer playing himself rather than Jim), shows no compassion whatsoever, and just appears to become famous in one quick turn of events. The only clue we have to the success stems from the Sullivan show, the airport raid, and assorted concerts, but we never get a sense of Jim being nationally lambasted. Some archival footage might have helped there. But of course then the more sedate, intelligent Morrison--whom you portrayed as bumping into cops whereas Jim preferred to sway at a mike stand (see the archival footage)--doesn't figure in a Hollywood biopic.
What a shame. What a rotten, dirty, salacious mess. Maybe your own demons got the better of your good sense, Oliver. God knows, if your Morrison had been the true Morrison, I'd never had been a fan of his in the first place. Thanks for turning Jim into David Lee Roth, the members of KISS, Robert Plant, and all those other Circus Magazine posterboys for rock and roll excess. Too bad. An integrity, a nonmaterial nature, and a sincere attraction to make art distinguishes Jim from all those other Sex, Drug, and Rock and Roller hellions.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2007
I will say the only good thing I have to say about this waste of celluloid right up front. I enjoyed Val Kilmer's performance as Jim Morrison. He did the best job he could with the woeful script he was given. If only we could have had the same performance in a better film.
This film is awful on so many levels. Its characterisations are not true to the known descriptions of the people it portrays, most of whom were still living at the time the film was released. The only excuse for that kind of sloppiness is that Oliver Stone wanted to portray Jim Morrison, his friends, his band, his lovers, and the era in which he lived in Stone's own way, regardless of the facts.
Yes, I was not there, I did not know Jim Morison at the time, nay, I was not even born. But I have read his printed works, seen his films, and listened to his music. As a musician, author, poet and songwriter, myself, I know that one can tell much about an artist from his work. Whether or not No One Here Gets out Alive, or Break On Through, or Ray Manzarek and John Densmore's memoirs give a more accurate picture of Jim Morrison's life and death is not at issue here, nor is my generational status.
The Jim Morrison portrayed by this film is not the artist I, or any other fan, or fellow musician or writer know from the man's body of work. As such, Oliver Stone's film is an insult to the late Mr. Morrison both as an artist and a man.
Oliver Stone's "The Doors" is cheap, tawdry, badly written, poorly made and, with the exception of Mr. Kilmer's performance, badly acted. Even if you are not a fan of the Doors you should avoid this film at all costs; if for no other reason than out of simple respect for the dead, who as Mr. Stone well knows, cannot be libeled or slandered and no longer have the ability to speak in their own defence.
If you are a fan of the Doors and of Jim Morrison I must urge you even more strongly to avoid this film. It will outrage and infuriate you, but, worse, it will sadden you deeply to see the dreadful spectacle of a lesser artist's attempt to usurp the vision of a greater one by standing on his shoulders.
Or, in Oliver Stone's case, on Jim Morrison's tombstone.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2007
The Southern California band The Doors were a big hit around 1966-1971. The band ended when singer Jim Morrison flew to France to pursue a different career and shortly later died due to his ongoing drug abuse.
I'm not old enough to remember The Doors. I hail from the later era of Judas Priest and Metallica. The first time I ever heard of The Doors was when my much-older brother asked me if I knew of them. I busted out laughing saying, "The Doors? Why don't they just call themselves The Window Sills." Yeah, I thought the name was pretty ridiculous until I discovered Jim Morrison's reasoning behind it:
There is what is known
And there is what is unknown
Inbetween are the doors
Needless to say, I stopped laughing. Another thing that won my respect for The Doors was their song that was used in the opening of APOCALYPSE NOW, which is my all-time favorite film (the original version, that is, not that Frankenstein "Redux"). I didn't know the name of the song so I bought their "Best Of" album hoping to find it but unfortunately discovered that it wasn't on there. Anyway, this "Best Of" album was my first exposure to their music other than APOCALYPSE NOW and their hits that were regularly played on the radio. My first impression was that their sound was horribly dated, even THEN. Over time, however, I've come to respect The Doors' music because it's so unique. They don't sound like anyone but themselves. They have a weird, moody vibe, even their 'hits.' And over top of it all is Morrison's commanding and haunting voice. Anyway, I'm more of a fan of their more artistic songs like "Riders on the Storm" and "The End" as opposed to their 'hits,' but who can deny the catchiness of "Light My Fire" or the goofy charm of "People are Strange"?
I've only seen Oliver Stone's THE DOORS (1991) twice, including a recent viewing. The film focuses on Jim Morrison and leaves the viewer with the impression that he was a miserable artistic-genius type who had no sense of moderation; he sought to escape his personal pain through loose sex, substance misuse and rock 'n' roll. His excessive self-abuse spilled over to those closest to him and ultimately landed him in a premature grave. His body lies in Paris, a mecca to his fans who have spray-painted all the surrounding monuments with graffiti, some of it profane. The image this leaves you with is that Jim Morrison is no fun to be around, even in death.
So THE DOORS is pretty much the ultimate story of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Stone said he based his view of Morrison, as depicted in the film, on 160 transcripts of people that actually knew him or were around him and the band. From these documents emerged a central truth about Morrison's final five years of existence, an image of wild excess and abuse. Because of this, I was left with a pretty bad impression. I felt Morrison was a spaced-out, immature jerk, abusive to both himself and others, foolishly sacrificing his life and talents at the altar of drug & alcohol idolatry.
This is only part of the truth, I discovered. Thankfully I watched the 37-minute documentary on the 'extras' disk "The Road to Excess" wherein one of Morrison's sweethearts, Patricia Kenealy, the guitarist Robby and another guy give the other side of the story. They properly point out that Stone's film only shows Jim's 'wild & crazy' side, emphasizing that the events depicted in the picture, while generally true, aren't "all that happened." They unanimously describe Morrison as genuine, sweet, innocent, shy, loving and gallant, an amazing person who made those around him feel important, as if he was their best friend. Robby even states that Jim was "the most influential person I've ever met."
In addition, the documentary features numerous clips of Morrison himself, clearly showing him to be a fun-loving, nice and sane person rather than the spaced-out, abuse-driven dude shown in the film. Needless to say, the documentary helps round-out one's image of the man and is itself worth the price of admission.
By 1971 Jim realized that an inaccurate image was created around him, the natural byproduct of his fame. He sought to destroy this image by fleeing to France and starting a new life as a writer and filmmaker. Unfortunately Paris was decadent and he wasn't allowed to come clean. He was too famous. He couldn't escape the shackles of excess and consequently died because of it. Both Jim Morrison's life and the film are a pitiable portrait of self-destruction. What a waste of incredible talent.
FINAL ANALYSIS: The picture is very good in a groovy kind of way. Val Kilmer doesn't just play Jim Morrison, he IS Jim Morrison. This is no small feat and very important to the success of the picture in light of the fact that he appears in practically every frame. He should have won an award, to say the least. In any event, if you're in the mood for something that will capture that late-60s counter-culture vibe THE DOORS is the film to see (next to the documentary WOODSTOCK, that is). It's mesmerizing in a spaced-out way and naturally features The Doors' music throughout. Unfortunately it offers a very limited and unflattering impression of Jim Morrison. That's why it's essential that the viewer also watch "The Road to Excess" on the second disk.
In this documentary, by the way, Oliver Stone makes a couple of really asinine statements. Commenting on Morrison, he states: "To live life intensely and well and die young and achieve everlasting fame & glory is the greatest. It's Achilles, it's Alexander, it's... Jim Morrison." Huh? Another one is: "The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom." Is he on drugs? Jim's road of excess lead straight to an early grave, not enlightenment.
CONTENT WARNING: Unless you're a total doofus, anyone choosing to view a film like THE DOORS knows that it's probably going to try to capture the 'free-love' drug culture of the late-60s. Hence, there's a lot of female nudity and overt sex & drug scenes. If you can't stomach this for whatever reason, stay away.
PERSONAL GRADE: The film itself: B+ The "Road to Excess" documentary: A
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2004
The thing about most rock movies like this one is that in reviewing them, people are often caught up in the accuracy of the presentation. Is this EXACTLY how Jim was? Is that REALLY what Patricia and Jim did together? And what about that Ed Sullivan thing, did that really happen?
Please, people. If that's what you're looking for, watch an actual Doors concert. Watch Jim Morrison interviews. Read a decent biography. This is a MOVIE, coming straight out of Hollywood. As Oliver Stone says in the bonus features, it's his interpretation of a figure that has fascinated generations for decades, even after his untimely death in the early 1970s.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It's certainly legitimate to be annoyed at minor factual inconsistencies, and the like. Also, this movie was bound to make at least SOME of Jim's closest relations angry. Patricia Kennealy hates poor Mr. Stone with a passion (but then she hates most everyone these days, so that's probably not saying much). Ray Manzerek, keyboardist for the Doors, called the movie "atrocious". Perhaps this isn't what Jim was like -- in my opinion, it was slightly unfair, the way Stone handled Jim's drug and alcohol issues.
However, despite all this, I love the movie. It wasn't supposed to answer any questions, it was supposed to represent one man's image of the Lizard King ("whatever that means"), and this image is surprisingly universal. He recreates the hazy world of 60s L.A. with magnificent usage of color, music, and set, so that this movie is a visual feast. The Doors songs scattered throughout are also quite accurately placed -- the misty effects of 'Riders on the Storm' are especially poignant in the beginning of the film, and a recurring theme in 'The End' is an interesting film technique. All in all, it builds a very interesting view of the late 60s, Jim Morrison, the Doors, and their world.
Oh, yes, and the acting. The acting in this movie is tremendous. Meg Ryan does a wonderful job as Pamela Courson (Jim's common law wife, and longtime love), with a great performance in a violent Thanksgiving scene. Though I forget her name, the actress playing the witchwife Patricia Kennealy is also quite impressive, though based on the real-life Kennealy's recent endeavours, I'm not sure how realistic her interpretation was. And, of course, the impeccable Val Kilmer. Some may say he didn't display all the facets of Jim to the extent that he could, I say don't blame him for that, blame the script. His performances onstage conduct the same energy Morrison himself provoked in a crowd, his MysteriousDrunkenPoet interpretation was perfect for the mood Stone set, and I challenge any nonbelievers to watch Kilmer sing 'Light My Fire', and then put the actual song on. To the average listener - perhaps even the above-average listener - there is NO DIFFERENCE. The voice, the word-breaks, the tone... it's all perfectly on the mark. It's scary, actually.
So, in conclusion, I challenge any negative critics of Stone's movie to include all of its features in their consideration. Oliver Stone did not catch Jim Morrison on film. He encapsulated the mystery, the enigma that was Jim Morrison. He opens more questions than answers them, and rightly so. The only person that can REALLY claim to know what Jim was like is Jim himself, and of course he's not exactly around to do so. This movie is a triumph as a film, with amazing visuals, brilliant acting, and a true passion for the subject. It's extremely enjoyable, and comes highly recommended.
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2000
The people endlessly trashing this film are obviously biased against Mr. Stone, or the idea of their guru Jim Morrison being portrayed by someone else on celluloid. I haven't read an objective review yet, which is pretty sad, considering that this is a brilliant movie made by an extraordinary filmmaker. To quote James Woods reffering to Stone: "Oliver Stone is now making films that show a subjective experience, that have no omniscient point of view. This guy is doing work that if it were by Orson Welles would be hailed as genius." I totally agree. Stone angers a lot of people with his risky style, and that's why his films take more heat than most others.
The endless quivelling over this movie's accuracy is downright insane! First of all, why say "If you want a true account of the Doors, read Light My Fire by Ray Manzarek"? How can you trust Mr. Manzarek as the definitive source for a Doors biography? I'm sure drugs have poisoned the memories of the entire group, and Manzarek is no exception. Do you people realize how involved the real-life individuals were in the making of this biopic? It's practically based on John Densmore's book! If they thought some major travesties were being committed against the band, they wouldn't have let Stone go through with them. Pam Courson's family didn't let Stone portray their daughter as the junkie she truly was. Think about it.
If Morrison has no poetic side in this film, I'd like to know why everything he said was an epiphany. Face it, this is a great film, and, although inaccurate, it's just a MOVIE, not a documentary, and artistic liberties are taken with all biopics, no matter who is at the helm. You must admit that there are some truly brilliant moments in this movie. I didn't hate Morrison. Kilmer did great, and there should've been Oscar nods for him, as well as the *genius* cinematography, etc. To trash this film because it's "inaccurate" is mere card stacking.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
When I first time heard about this movie, I wanted to see it. 30.12.98 my wish came true, and I saw it. And I have to say I was really disappointed. I don't think Jim was anything like that ( but Val did look like him ), too much naked women, "John" didn't look like John, "Robby" didn't look like Robby, "Patricia" didn't look like Patricia, everything happened too fast, and Jim DIDN'T drink his blood ( read NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE ).'This one lonely star is from the music.