on February 18, 2000
"Natural Born Killers" is not about glorifying violence; it's a chilling parody of the American fascination with violence. The quick changes from color to black and white and back again, interspersed with animated sequences, point up the satiric nature of the movie.
Mickey and Mallory, very well played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, are two killing machines without heart or soul or conscience; their only redeeming virtues are their love for each other. They aren't meant to be sympathetic characters and they're not, but Oliver Stone's direction makes them pale in depravity besides some of the other characters -- the sadistic warden, the despicable detective and his morbid fascination with Mallory, Mallory's nauseating, sexually abusive father, and above all, Robert Downey's superb characterization of the media pimp who feeds off blood and gore.
The last scene in the movie, of Mickey and Mallory on the road with their two children, and Mallory about to deliver a third at any minute, underscores the whole message of the film; violence feeds on itself and begets yet more violence. Those viewers who were most upset by the movie missed its message. "Natural Born Killers" is a brilliant, disturbing depiction of the shallowness of American culture at the end of the 20th century.
on February 11, 2000
Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers is one of the most unique artistic visions in the last ten years. Some call it short-sighted, narrow, sensory overload, a bomabstic explosion of useless gas, or a pathetic exuse of a movie. Those who describe Natural Born Killers as such are missing the point or are perfect examples of it. The film is the most accurate film account of the 90's American culture. Mickey ( Woody Harrelson ) and Malory's ( Julliete Lewis ) dis-allusionment with the media, conservatism, morality, and life and death are all a primal revolution from the material enslavement of society. Watch the opening sequence with the dramatic and purposesly hallow transitions between color and black -and-white and violence and romance to see Stone's observations on 90's culture and the 80's influence upon it. The Rodney Dangerfield Sitcom section ( Roseanne anyone! ), sexually graphic animation, sexual abuse of children, Rodney King style beatings, Mickey and Mallory's sexual revolution, and the media's romanticism of crime (Heraldo, Montel, Jerry Springer)are all magnificentally satrized on this film. The 90's as a decade was in a nutshell short-sighted, narrow, sensory overloaded , a bomabstic explosion of useless gas, and a pathetic decade. The great films reflect the decades from which they were made and Natural Born Killers is no exception. In the fantastically edited last 30 minutes of NBK, this film will either totally repulse you or change your opinion of modern society. That is the power of this hyper-kinetic minagerie of the 90's. Oliver Stone's director's cut adds only about three minutes of extra footage which includes Tommy Lee Jone's decapitated head and some other disturbing material. This addition just adds more ferocity to Stone's vision. Also available on the DVD version are about 45 minutes of deleted scenes that Stone beleived would have hampered or slowed down NBK's narrative. The footage is also very provocative in its own right. A must-see.
on October 18, 1999
Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" is not just a movie, it is an experience. It is a wild, dark ride that serves as a study of today's culture and it's fascination with violence. This movie is not so much about the killers, but about how the killers capture the public. The screenplay is masterfully structured with moments of vicious rage, deepness, dark comedy and powerful visual images. The film is hypnotically watchable due to the great mixing of different film formats, camera angles, colors and the breathtaking cinematography of Robert Richardson. "Natural Born Killers" is a great study of where our culture is going. Stone is a genius of cinema, one of the greatest directors there has ever been. This movie is effective, provocative, feverish and driven. It's electrifying. In fact, it's not as violent as you may think it is. It's the break neck speed it goes at and it's intense feeling. "Natural Born Killers" is both intense and brilliantly nightmarish. It's disturbing, as it should be. This serves as a slap on America's face, to wake it up. "Natural Born Killers" is a masterpiece, as Roger Ebert said: "Seeing this movie once is not enough."
on June 29, 2001
This, along with Q. Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction'once again lit the blue touch paper in the 'Violence in the Movies' debate. Is this film worth all the hype? - YES it is, but not for it's violence but for the sheer audacious movie making that Oliver Stone had once again shown. Out has gone a lot of Quentin's snappy and witty dialogue, although the QT trademark is there, but the showmanship of OS is at the forefront. This is what Q. Tarantino would and could not have acheived - a mad, bad and altogether out of body movie which debates that society and the media should be more accountable for their actions in the depiction of violence that is all around us. This is a complete cop out and should be ignored at the outset. Take this movie with a large pinch of salt and sit back and marvel at the splicing of different filmstocks 35mm Super 8 and also the fusing of cartoons in some areas. Plot, there is no plot, Mickey & Malory Knox ( Woody Harrelson / Juliette Lewis) kill and they enjoy it they have no morals, scruples and no compunction in doing what they do! Superb performances from all concerned above and also Robert Downey Jnr., Tommy Lee Jones and Tom Sizemore. This disc is nothing short of brilliant as it has superb missing/deleted scenes, alternative ending and one of the best audio commentaries fom Mr. Stone himself into the sights and insights of the film. Good / Bad? You decide, although it's not easy watching... you have been warned.
on March 8, 2011
... and this is a nearly perfect film. The script, the acting of all characters, the direction and editing, and all the ensemble elements of perfected cinema are here. It's a virtuosic depiction of "our" insatiable taste for the violence we hide ourselves from, from birth to hospice care, our sofa-bound celebration of vicarious violence. It's an indictment, not an entertainment, and if you enjoy it too easily, with too much adrenalin pumping, you ought to know that it's YOU being indicted. Likewise, though it has lots of moments of absurdity that would be comic in another film, it's not funny, not in any manner that makes you smile or chuckle. In fact, if you laugh out loud too often at this film, you might need therapy.
A couple of young white Southern Americans, Mickey and Mallory, go on a murder rampage along historic Highway 66. Their first victims are Mallory's grotesque abusive parents, but then they slaughter 52 people at ransom, including a number of police, in a scant few weeks. Their love and lust, indistinguishable, are image-saturated with hallucinogenic drugs. They are captured, surviving a hail of bullets, and imprisoned. A year later, amid a frenzied prison riot, they escape again, leaving dozens of corpses strewn around the penitentiary. These simple cinematic thrills are tumbled together with news footage of actual mass and serial murders, hyper-violent scenes from other films and TV shows, and cartoon animation suggestive of violent computer games. As I said, the editing is Perfect, a ghastly gory splurge of senseless gratuitous violence. That alone would not distinguish Natural Born Killers from the dozens of bloodbath thrillers that are marketed in the USA every year. But the killers, including the psycho cop Scagnetti who tracks Mickey and Mallory, are different from most. They get more pleasure from killing than most. In fact, they justify their killing by the 'sense of being alive themselves' that they derive from it. It's all "fate" anyway, they offer; those who get killed are those who somehow need killing.
What distinguishes Natural Born Killers from being a simple 'thriller' is its portrayal of the sensation-hungry media profiteering from their violence, stirring up a feeding-frenzy of adulation for the "Bonnie and Clyde-like" killers. As the film industry, and before it the dime novels of the 19th C have taught the world, America loves a raffish outlaw and despises the public employees -- cops and jailers, with the defined-benefit pensions -- until one of them is shot by a black person. Wayne Gale, host of a TV reality show devoted to serial murderers, follows Mike and Mallory and glamorizes them, sets up an interview with Mike in prison which triggers the explosive riot, commits himself psychologically more and more to them, adapts their Ayn Rand objectivity toward the value of Life, and eventually finds himself cravenly cringing in front of his own camera as Mike explains why the thrill of killing even extends to mystical converts.
Yes, a perfect film! And it happens to have been one of the most controversial films in American history, lambasted by critics for inciting precisely the sociopathic violence it patently wants to excoriate. Look on wikipedia! You'll find, as a full article, a "List of Alleged Natural Born Killers Copycat Crimes', several of which were very likely just that! Can a film that portrays as hellish and decadent the unrepentant adoration of violence by the American public really be held culpable for inciting more violence? How then can you tell the truth, if the truth results in more guilt? By the way, the film doesn't "pick on America" alone; the glee of TV audiences in Japan, Europe, and everywhere at the carnage is also shown. But let's not equivocate; this is a film about the shame of America, and it's a potent statement.
Just don't let your kids watch it!
on February 16, 2016
Great movie if you like Quinton Terinteno films. It is very off beat from the "norm" which makes me adore this movie even more. This movie can be compared to a "thrower off" modern day bonnie and clyde type.
on June 21, 2005
The saying that a picture says more than a thousand words only appears as a mirage for many in our contemporary society where a constant feed of information waters down the message of a single picture. Through voices over the radio, myriads of images flash from TV and the easily accessible Internet that can even generate any desired interactive multimedia. The bombardment of information makes it difficult for many viewers to focus their attention on one single source, as an overload of sensory stimuli enter the brain through vision and hearing. Soon can the spectators of a media source probably also smell and touch what they see. It becomes an impossible task for many viewers to process the abundance of incoming information, which never allows enough time for reflection and contemplation. Instead, today's youth are overmedicated for a vast number of cognitive disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and personality disorders due to problems with skills such as thinking and mood swings. Oliver Stone addresses this issue through his controversial Natural Born Killers where two young people drive down a highway on a murderous rampage.
In the opening, Stone displays a number of shots that have been edited together in order to create a threatening sensation, as a shot of the desert supercedes the image of a wolf. A quick cut to a close-up of a rattle snake is followed by someone pouring a cup of coffee that quickly changes to a blood red scene of a train that is running through the desert. A sequence of an eagle, which is a symbolic image for the United States, leads the viewer eventually to a dinner where the waitress quickly jumps through a number of television channels. The different TV channels have an iconic lead up from the 1950s when the television become prominent in every home to present time where a demon is grinning on the screen. A titled pan, suggests that something is not right with situation, and displays the waitress taking the order of Mickey (Woody Harrelson) who orders a slice of key-lime pie. The waitress comes on to Mickey and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) insultingly brushes off her attempt while strutting up to the jukebox. Shortly after hell breaks loose in the small diner along the desert highway where Mickey and Mallory, also known as M & M, ruthlessly kill all, but one who will spread the word of their act at the diner.
The question is why Mickey and Mallory did what they did at the highway diner. Instead of dealing with their identity, the Natural Born Killers try to answer the question through a lengthy dissection of their lives that stretch from the time they met until the very final scene. Empirically the story stirs up several issues including sensationalism, i.e., the basic notion of limiting experience to sensations from the senses as a source of knowledge, as filtering consistent facts or extensive contemplation requires cerebral effort to achieving knowledge. Instead people have been taught through the media to rely on feelings, as the ultimate truth, and the images of the TV most often pleads to the instant emotional senses. Consequently, the viewer learns that they do not have to think, which requires cerebral effort, as they merely have to lay down in their La-Z-Boy and be spoon fed the images of the TV screen.
A paradox rests within the image, as every image consists of both an instant emotional sensation and a deeper meaning. However, in order for the audience to achieve some understanding of the deeper meaning in an image the audience's attention has to maintain on the image for enough time for the viewer to begin contemplation. Education, of sorts, is also necessary in regards to reading images and to begin pondering, as the image has some links with society and to find this link individuals might need some acquired knowledge to find the cue that leads to a deeper meaning. Parents are the foundation for a child's educational development, and Stone ironically depicts this family in a dysfunctional Cosby manner where the unemployed father, performed by Rodney Dangerfield, only cares for Mallory in a selfish, physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive manner. Both Mallory and Mickey know that something is wrong with the situation, and the approach they choose to end this terrible family lifestyle is with murder. Mallory appears as a mirror image of her father after she has drowned her father in the fish tank by displaying her instant gratification of her deed by jumping up and down. It is clear that her father did not care about any consequences, as she continues in his footsteps without regard for others except Mickey.
Natural Born Killers depicts a brutal satire of our contemporary society where instant gratification seems to be the need in the public and media gladly provide it through their network stations, as commercials keep the dollars flowing. Oliver Stone points out that the problem does not rest within the TV stations, parents, or the children, but in the society as a whole. There is no magic silver bullet that could cure this cerebral apathy, as only individual endeavors to strive for deeper reflection and contemplation could raise the society beyond the need for instant emotional gratification. On occasion, people demonize, maybe due to a sensation such as anger or their personal desire for their own 15 minutes of glory. It could also be due to small aspects of society where they might not have gained full understanding of the issue through contemplation of consistent information. Amidst the frenzy generated by the media, the media tries to maximize their revenue, as they provide more fuel to the sensational experience. Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) does exactly this by pleading to people's feelings as he tries to get the ratings to soar through an interview with Mickey.
Technically Natural Born Killers offers a cinematically stunning experience, as it mockingly uses tilted camera pans and vertical cuts to induce more emotional turmoil. This enhances the message that Stone tries to send to the audience through Quentin Tarantino's adapted story. In order to provide a film that does not confuse the audience about his intentions to display a mockery of the media's sensationalistic abuse and the viewer's perception of media he uses a heavy load of satire backed by wacky cinematography and short animation sequences. The cast also displays intentionally exaggerated performances that support the use of satire, which in the end comes together into a wickedly brutal parody with disturbing imagery presented through excessive violence and symbolic imagery.
on May 7, 2012
First off the film itself is amazing on so many different levels, so I wont go into that right now. It's a classic. Watch it. There. OK. Now...about the blu ray transfer & the "shaking" stated from other reviews. I DID notice the bottom half of the picture moving up & down through the opening credits...but then it stopped. I'm not sure but I vaguely remember another copy (old VHS tape) that I had doing the same thing. I also vaguely remember Stone saying that he put that in there intentionally to draw the audience in with a feeling of unease or unbalance, right away. But...yeah...like I said, the picture only did that for the first few minutes of the film. Other than that...the transfer itself is average at best. I had to mess around with the settings on my tv (turned the color temp to "cool", and upped the sharpness level). After I did that it had a pretty clear & focused picture. The sound was good. Crystal. No distortion. Special features are kinda lame. Only new to blu ray feature being a short documentary on how the film would be if it were released now. Kinda interesting, worth watching once I guess. Then you have all the deleted & alternate scenes from the other versions. Director commentary (also from the other versions), Charlie Rose interview and the chaos rising doc (also from the other versions). There is also a fat booklet with some cool facts & pictures in the blu ray case. Not a bad purchase, but they could have done so much more with this given the format.
For this Blu Ray edition of Natural Born Killers, a few things should be noted. The picture isn't perfect but that's to be expected. The film uses a variety of film stocks so expecting any kind of consistency will only leave you disappointed. The surround sound fares much better though and is apparent from the outset. There is a recurring sound effect of a shaking rattlesnake that travels throughout the speaker set up that lets you know you're in good hands as far as surround activity goes. As far as extras, this edition doesn't have some of the materials available in earlier renditions, such as the Nine Inch Nails video for "Burn" and a collection of outtakes that saw the light of day in the previous laserdisc and DVD releases of the film. Everything else remains intact, such as the director commentary and deleted scenes (which are pretty bad quality and a reminder of why VHS had to go; I had to turn my volume nearly to the max just to hear what Denis Leary was barking about).
The two featurettes that are available here (the recently produced "NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?" and the previously available "Chaos Rising...") are definitely worth watching. You come away from NBK Evolution feeling convinced that the film successfully predicted what shape the media of today would take and in my opinion, that's where the success of this film truly lies. I hadn't watched the film in a few years and watching it now in light of recent times, it hasn't softened any. In fact, I was still pretty surprised at how effective and truly fascinating the film is in both its general insanity and the satire of it all. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are so good in this film and the supporting cast, especially Tom Sizemore, Robert Downey Jr. and Tommy Lee Jones, help to cement this film as an unforgettable viewing experience. Rounding out this package is a thick booklet with a bunch of trivia and photos from the film's production, an extra little bonus that you rarely see in Blu Ray releases as of late.
I totally recommend this Blu Ray and it does a good job of preserving both Natural Born Killers and its legacy in a number of ways. If you haven't seen the film in a while and enjoyed it initially, watch it again as the end result may surprise you.
on May 24, 2000
I don`t agree with the guy who said that NBK and JFK are MTV garbage. This film is not only about Media, is about TELEVISION about how people respond to violence. It is an unconventional film, but at this moment almost all the movies from Hollywood copy: the MTV fast style, loudly music, bizarre images,etc. This film is a masterpiece because it show us the truth about television, I saw this truth with my own eyes and you could see it too, if you want to. Oliver Stone show us their hypocrisy and when I saw it in everydaylife, on the news, I stoped watching T.V. You can say freely that this film changed my life. It is not my favorite movie but I think it`s the most important film of the 21 century. JFK is the most powerful film I have seen, with the same hypnotic energy like this one has.