Is everybody IN? Is EVERYBODY in? Because my review of The Doors is about to begin!
Nearly 20 years after he died, Oliver Stone sought to make a film about the rapid rise and heavy fall of Jim Morrison, the formation of The Doors, his relationship with Pamela Courson (Meg Ryan) and everything leading up to the man's death. Stone created a piece of work that is a triumph of both style and substance and brought out the performance of his life from its lead, Val Kilmer.
We see the moment when they were asked not to sing 'higher' on The Ed Sullivan Show and replace the word with 'better' - since 'higher' was perceived as a reference to drugs - and they chose to defy this. It wasn't all factually accurate, though. After having his student film criticised by most of the class at UCLA, the reason Jim Morrison didn't quit, and they also didn't smoke peyote in the desert.
One of the biggest tragedies, other than Morrison's death, can be summed up in just one question - Just what happened to Val Kilmer's career after his wonderful performance in this film? I know it's an overused phrase, but he "owns" the stage here, so to speak. He could've made the big-time and was on his way up after appearing in Top Gun, but duff choices included The Real McCoy, Batman Forever and The Saint and despite a good turn in Michael Mann's Heat in 1995, things just stalled from there for him.
The rest of the cast is wide and varied, but provide adequate support including Meg Ryan, plus Frank Whaley as guitarist Robby Krieger, Kevin Dillon as drummer John Densmore and, especially, Kyle MacLachlan as keyboardist Kyle MacLachlan.
I've always loved this film and I remember after seeing it in the cinema while I was at University, I phoned my Dad the next day and said "I went to see The Doors last night", and in all innocence, he replied, "Oh, were they good?" :)
Finally, as an aside, Jim Morrison died in July 1971... I was born in April 1972... 9 months after conception... Hmm? Think about it...
(I'm just kidding)
Presented in 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, the picture is crystal (ship) clear and has no faults whatsoever. Colours are deep and bold and it's as enjoyable to watch the film on this disc as it was in the cinema back in 1991 and evokes brilliantly the period of the late 1960s going into the early '70s. It's a visual feast with the camera swaying around a lot, getting across Morrison's drink- and drug-addled state of mind.
The sound is in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, for which I got the DTS 5.1 version with my equipment. As well as split-surround effects used on frequent occasions along with the background music and ambience, pride of place certainly goes to the music of the band in question. And at one point, where Morrison has sex with editor-in-chief of Jazz and Pop magazine, Patricia Kennealy (Kathleen Quinlan) after drinking each other's blood, all to the tune of Carmina Burana, it led to one couple in the audience walking out!
There are two supplemental pieces. First up is: Jim Morrison: An American Poet in Paris (52:09), a documentary looking at the last four months of his life. It attempts to tell "Who was Jim Morrison"? as well as trying to work out the cause of his mysterious death, given that there was no autopsy at the time, and features interviews with experts and people who knew him in France at the time. Hence, all the dialogue is in French and Optimum have no option but to actually give us English subtitles here(!)
Back to the Roots (55:53) is a documentary from Studio Canal, featuring Oliver Stone, Kyle MacLachlan and others (no further cast members, however) including The Stranglers' Jean-Jacques Burnel, photographer and close friend of Morrison's Frank Lisciandro, journalist and Deviants founder Mick Farren and many more. Mixed in with clips from the film, they all talk about working and their experiences with Jim Morrison and the band.
The menu mixes the opening instrumental from "The End" and other eerie audio with black and white clips from the film. There are subtitles in 10 languages... BUT NONE OF THEM ARE IN ENGLISH!! What on earth is all that about? As such, I'm not labelling them here. That's just bloody moronic! Just what goes on in the heads of the people behind the scenes at Optimum who makes these made subtitles and/or chaptering decisions.
On that subject, the total number of chapters is an improved 20 (over the usual 12), but it's still not enough with the film running for 141 minutes.
Before the main menu appears, a static country/language selection screen came up. There wasn't an option for UK so I selected Australia. What an odd screen to have.