on 12 March 2004
"Natural Born Killers" is Oliver Stone's "take-no-prisoners" assault on the media that is cinematic eye-candy to the teeth. It's an uneasy satire to watch, but it is an extremely effective film that is both thrilling and funny. Many people loath this movie, as it is not an easy one to take. I feel there's a lot of ugly truths hidden within, and those truths aren't very easy to accept for most. For those who are aware of how manipulative and hypocritical the media world can be are in for one crazy and unforgiving ride that has no limits.
Mickey and Mallory Knox may appear to be your ordinary couple, but they aren't. In fact, the two are notorious serial killers who love to get their adrenaline pumping by destroying the lives of others. The media has pretty much made the villainous duo heroes to the public, as they can't get enough of them. They headline every single news program with absolute pride. As the two continue their bloody rampage through the states, the public is watching every step of the way with bloodshot eyes.
The structure of the film is usually what turns people off from it, but I thought it was all executed perfectly. It doesn't follow your basic plot structure in the same way most films do. We're presented with the characters, the conflict, resolution, etc.--but it's pieced together in random spots as if you were surfing through different channels on the TV. This is extremely effective for what Stone is trying to convey. It's a disturbing film because it actually sheds light on something most people don't want to fess up to, and that is the glorification of criminals and violence. I found it to be a breath-taking satire, as well as an outstanding film all together.
One of the many strong points that this film has is the amazing acting from the superb cast. Woody Harrelson is savagely entertaining as the notorious "Mickey," while Juliette Lewis is beautiful and deadly. Robert Downey Jr. is a complete joy to watch as he partakes in the role of the obsessive talk-show host who is only concerned with ratings (now, who does he remind you of?). It also must be said that Tommy Lee Jones gives one of his funniest performances ever--the expressions on his face are absolutely priceless.
This particular DVD version of the movie contains a bunch of goodies for DVD fanatics. One of the main features is that this is the "Director's Cut." While it's not much longer than the original theatrical version, certain extended shots and angles deemed "controversial" have been restored in this version. The picture and sound quality is really great and does the film the justice that it deserves. Extras that can be found on the DVD include the director's commentary, deleted scenes, an alternative ending, and cast and crew interviews. Not a bad package, if you ask me.
"Natural Born Killers" is an absolute cinematic treat to film buffs. While it's most likely not to be welcomed with open-arms by most, it certainly is entertaining to those who love it. It's not your ordinary movie, that much is for sure. If you're looking for a risk-taking satire that defies all of the rules and boundaries, this might be the choice for you. It's a unique experience that never loses its appeal or originality. -Michael Crane
on 27 July 2006
Natural born killers is a film that is needs an open mind and an understanding that films can have a hidden message or else this film will pass you by and you will never see the brilliance of it,it appears to me that many have missed the point.
The film is an ode to americas glorified fascination with the macabre and how serial killers for example can gain legendary status and thats because of the media.
Granted the films violent scenes are excessive but in understanding the reason for that one understands that people embrace these acts in what they read,what they watch and so forth in the news,america is a country that reigns in violence and murder,this film details with two killers who you cant help but love,but are the characters played by robert downey junior(the journalist) or tommy lee jones(the warden) any better,thats what you need to decide.
The content of the film is one of a couple,mickey and mallory,who go on a killing spree across america and how their fanbase grows as the media gives them iconic status,certainly even i as a viewer warm to them,sense of irony im sure.
This is a film that is more of a satire and is twisted in more ways than one and with 3000 edits involved(most films have 700) it is clear that there is alot going here,you shouldnt miss this.
on 11 October 2014
You don't need to know anything about this film, as you'll either love it or hate it! (There's no inbetweening, when it comes to NATURAL BORN KILLERS!) However, my reason for this post, is to warn others about this new UK release!
Once again, we UK Blu-Ray fans get royally screwed-over! Despite being advertised as the 20th Anniversary Edition, this is NOT in fact the case!
What you get, is:
- The Uncut Director's Cut (122 minutes)
- NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now? (documentary)
- Commentary and Introduction by Oliver Stone
- Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers (documentary)
- Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Oliver Stone (about 20 minutes worth)
- Charlie Rose Interview of Oliver Stone (featurette)
- Alternate Ending with Introduction by Oliver Stone, and the
- US Theatrical Trailer
. However, in the USA, Warners are releasing the proper 20th Anniversary Edition, which includes:
- The Original Theatrical Cut (119 minutes), PLUS
- The Uncut Director's Cut (122 minutes)
- Housed in a new DIAMOND LUXE, Steelbook-style case
- Natural Born Killers: Method In The Madness (All-new feature-length documentary, featuring director Oliver Stone, editor Hank Corwin and technical advisor Dale Dye, who unleash the cinematic tools of controlled chaos they used to make the film
- PLUS ALL of the other stuff listed above, on the new UK Blu-Ray!
This item can be Pre-Ordered from Amazon.com at...
... and costs less than £18, including Standard Shipping to the United Kingdom! It's released on 9th December 2014. Thus, making it better, (but as-pricey), as this lame-assed release, that has been fobbed-off onto us UK-based NBK fans! On top of this, the US release is REGION FREE, so will already work in all UK Blu-Ray players!
The US 20th Anniversary Edition is what we should be getting, but it isn't! When companies treat UK film fans with this amount of utter contempt, is it any wonder that the UK fans then go and buy foreign releases?! As such, Warners UK deserves to be shot for this joke of a release! Shame on them!
I'm returning my UK version straight back to Amazon for a full refund, and am plumping for the new US set instead! Do NOT purchase the UK version, but go and pre-order the superior US release instead! You owe it to yourself, and to send a message to Warner in the UK, that we will NOT accept this kind of second-rate release!
on 7 December 2001
Natural Born Killers : A true contemporary cinematic masterpiece, or simply an excessively graphic depiction of violence, thinly veiled under the protective covering of its 'media satire' label? It is easy to see how most audiences find it difficult to see Oliver Stone's murderous road movie as fitting into anything but one of the two categories above. Such an outspoken film will inevitably receive outspoken responses, from opposing ends of the scale. However, if one steps back from the controversy and hype surrounding the film, to look at it solely as an individual body of work, its merits begin to push themselves to the fore.
It cannot be denied that visually, the film is breathtaking. The variety of formats that Stone employs constantly vies for our attention, switching from colour to black and white, 35mm to 16mm, live action to animation, road movie to sitcom. Punctuated by superimposed hallucinations and visceral violence, this is one film that could never be accused of being boring. It is difficult to define exactly what it is that Stone has created here. Serial killer flick, road movie, twisted romance - Natural Born Killers crosses the boundaries of all three, at the same time carving a unique space for itself in cinematic history.
It is, perhaps, the central contradiction between the film's 'message' and the way that it is conveyed, that makes it so interesting. To some, Stone's critique of the media and its power to elevate such characters as Mickey and Mallory Knox to the status of national heroes, may appear to be nothing but self-indulgent hypocrisy. After all, one cannot deny that they are presented to us in a 'cool', charming and sexy manner and by the time we've reached Batonga State Penitentiary, we are, I would suggest, anticipating the next bloodbath more eagerly than our psychopathic protagonists. Yet, this is exactly Stone's point. He wants his audience to acknowledge not just what they are watching, but also the way that they are watching it. The idea of two individuals being taken from an existence as low-life murderers and transformed into media superstars is underlined by intelligent casting. That is to say, Woody Harrelson, whether as Woody in Cheers, or as Billy in White Men Can't Jump, had typically been cast as the goofy but loveable type. To see him in his full serial-killing glory in N.B.K. is a testament to how our perception of people can be manipulated by the way that they are portrayed in the media.
Much has been written about Natural Born Killers since its release, with widely differing viewpoints and focuses ranging from its effect on the audience to its use of the 'MTV generation' style (a description which is fast-becoming more of a cliché than the style itself). However, it is somewhat difficult to find criticism on the film that does not label it either as sheer genius or over-rated sensationalism. It is definitely a 'love it or hate it' movie. How each individual will respond to Natural Born Killers cannot be predicted, but what is certain is that no matter what you think of it, you'll never forget it.
on 19 February 2013
Stylish and provocative, Natural Born Killers has been accused of encouraging copycat crimes, though anyone dumb enough to emulate this film was already on the edge, in my opinion. Roaming serial killers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) aren't idealised; director/co-writer Oliver Stone paints them as standard psychos, full of arrogance and self-righteousness, spouting crap pseudo-philosophy like Charles Manson. When Mickey says "that's poetry" to Mallory's inane cliched statements I was amused, not left in awe of them, and amusement's the reaction Stone wants, I think.
Natural Born Killers is at heart a (very) dark comedy; the only reason Mickey and Mallory might seem sympathetic to some is because the other major characers are just as vile, if not even more hypocritical. Celebrity cop Jack Scagnetti's (Tom Sizemore) an evil psychopath who's no different to his prey, prison warden Dwight McClusky's (Tommy Lee Jones) a soulless fascist and TV journalist Wayne Gayle's (Robert Downey Jr.) a two-faced worm. The only likeable people are a couple of Native Americans and an ageing cop whose partner Mickey and Mallory kill.
In a segment designed like a sitcom, where shocking dialogue's scored with a hollow laugh track, Mickey and Mallory murder Mallory's abusive dad (Rodney Dangerfield) and ignorant mum (Edie McClurg). They then, after a blood bond ritual, go on a killing spree which ends when they're captured by Scagnetti. Their adventures are intercut with TV footage of journalists and citizens discussing them; they become cultural icons, treated like media personalities by a world as diseased as they are.
Dozens of styles, from black-and-white to single colour, fanatastical landscapes and even vaguely sci-fi images, like walls which double as TV screens, tell the story in a dizzyingly schizophrenic manner. This can sometimes obscure the plot, but overall it's visually sumptous and fascinating.
The film struggled with censorship, which is strange because even its director's cut isn't any more and in some cases less violent than others of its time. The Silence of the Lambs won four Oscars, and that could be seen as having slightly stronger content (skinning, semen-tossing). Maybe the problem was that Mickey and Mallory are easier to imitate than Buffalo Bill or Hannibal Lecter. Novelist John Grisham weighed in on the film's alleged amorality when a friend of his was killed by two teenagers who'd watched it. Though I can empathise with Grisham's loss, someone who's first novel, A Time to Kill, implicitly endorsed vigilantism, while providing a thriller which depicts child rape, should watch what he says. Ultimately, to claim that Natural Born Killers incites murder is childish and naive. Stone's characters are selfish, narcissistic and desensitised. They're human cockroaches, and if you want to be like them you're a cockroach too.
on 2 May 2006
I wanted to see Natural Born Killers for ages, but as it wasnt available in the UK, I couldnt buy it ( I only had a r2 dvd player at the time and PAL video). First seen it on Channel 5 and after that, I couldnt wait for it to be released.
Natural Born Killers is a totally unique movie. The idea behind the theme is very interesting and I think Oliver Stone handles the material well, the script and the acting are good, and you end up rooting for Mickey and Mallory even though they are murderers. The supporting cast - Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Downey Jr are also great, but this is Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis's movie.
There is a lot of violence in the movie that many people wont like, but despite this, it is an intelligent and satirical movie that will certainly go down in history - you gotta see it to understand its one of I kind. The editing, which obviously Stone took a lot of time over is one thing that takes a bit of getting used to - changing from normal to green to black n white every 10 mins or so, but this just adds to the feel of the film and I think it works well.
So, I highly recommend this film. I bought the UK boxset when it came out, although there is an excellent directors cut which has loads of fab extras - including some infamous deleted scenes.
on 14 May 2015
First saw this movie when I was at University in the late 90's, loved it from the opening scene to the end, kick ass soundtrack compiled by Trent Reznor, powerhouse performances from all.... Woody Harleson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jnr, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore. Personal favourite sequence is the prison riot at the end which kicks off when Mickey is telling a joke to a bunch of prison guards, lulling them into a false of security before un-arming one of them, stealing a shotgun and just letting rip.. all to the soundtrack of Rage against the machine. Classic!!
on 16 October 2001
In making Natural Born Killers, Oliver Stone has ventured into cinematic territory that requires considerable daring - graphically portraying the exploits of mass murderers while simultaneously exposing the complicity of America's media and popular culture in their brutality. If you can get over Stone's relentless and graphic directorial style and his complete lack of concern for censorship or social outrage, you will learn a great deal from this piece of film.
Technically, Natural Born Killers was a cinematic break through. Stone's seemingly haphazard barrage of imagery is in fact a finely tuned roll of delicately edited cinematography.
black-and-white video, secondary TV, newspaper echoes, exaggerated caricatures, hyperbolic acts of violence, rear and front projections, animation, sitcom style, adjusted speeds, warped lighting and canned laughter.
In the opening series of shots we can see that we are in for a visual feast, as Stone sets about pushing and pulling the viewer to see exactly what he wants you to see. He shoots through a red tint, as we see sharp, crisp shots of the surrounding area, this effect is echoed throughout the film, fore-shadowing the imminent bloodshed that we expect in a film which is, primarily, about mass murder. He also shoots in black and white, again fore-shadowing another main theme that the film aims to tackle, the media and it's role along side acts of ultra-violence. Already, within the first few shots we see that, stylistically, although clichéd and at times a little tacky, the imagery that we are being presented with is of a very potent nature and is being offered to us in an impressively high calibre fashion. For this we must give Stone great praise.
Stone has never been a director to back down from any challenge, and again he has shown that he doesn't really have a mechanism within him, telling him when enough is enough; Stone can't make a point subtly - and yes, even an extreme, hallucinogenic movie like this one would benefit from some subtlety. Yet you do not see as much actual violence as you think you do in this movie. It is not the veritable 'gore-fest' that it's critics will have you believe it is; it's more the tone, the attitude, and the breakneck pacing that gives you that impression of an explicit nature. Stone is not making a horror movie, like all good satirists, he knows that too much realism will weaken his effect, and that is what this is, a political and social satire.
He lets you know he's making a comedy. There's an over-the-top exuberance to the intricate editing, and to the hyperactive camera work.
The modern day Bonnie and Clyde-style mass-murdering duo form the basis for Stone's wrath against all that is rotten in America's bloated, capitalistic, media driven world today. The very same capitalist ignorance that had Stone sent off to Vietnam as a teenager. His films have always tackled controversial issues head-on, his anger fuelling his creativity most memorably in Platoon, but also in; Born on the 4th of July, and Any Given Sunday. His bitter past and resentment towards much of America's society shines through this paper thin rant against the evils of the media and its link with violence. The incongruity of the situation, as Mickey and Mallory soar to cult fame and celebrity status, grows and mutates out of all believable proportion. However, Stone's film is not about realism, it is a strange hybrid of pop-culture imagery, pulp fiction throwaway characters, post modern satire and genuine anger towards the American media's ethics.
Did Stone really mean to suggest that violence and insanity are so all-encompassing that Mickey and Mallory's extremes really aren't anything out of the ordinary? This downplaying of the casual violence involved in this film adds to its chilling matter-of-fact story-telling style, but this film is also about the way Mickey and Mallory electrify the media and exhilarate the public.
The couple take great pleasure in murdering dozens of innocent victims before they are captured, tried and sent off to prison. Through it all, their celebrity grows, culminating in a televised prison riot and breakout. This all sounds a little too surreal to be taken seriously, and indeed it shouldn't be, in parts, but the underlying message, the sub-text and the undertone of this film holds a devastatingly important message for western society as a whole. Stone is on the mark in pointing out the absurdity of killers becoming media stars, and the movie has a terrifically creative way of making this point. But despite its success, many believe that, in his effort to make the film entertaining, Stone has crossed the line and is committing the same sin that the film sets out to condemn.
Stone clearly knew that his film would cause uproar and controversy, he even includes images taken from similarly controversial pieces of film and etches them into the background of his own film. Scenes from Brian De Palma's Scarface, The Wickerman, The Texas Chainsaw massacre and The Wild Bunch, all add to a collage of controversy, another stab at the media perhaps? Pre-empting the critics, always one step ahead.
"Killing you and what you represent is a statement." Mickey says "I'm not a hundred percent sure exactly what its saying but. . ."
Mickey could be speaking for Stone as well, although the filmmaker seems certain of the many statements he wanted to make in Natural Born Killers. American society is morally corrupt and damages its children. The criminal justice system punishes the weak rather than the guilty. Mass media perpetuates and encourages the misguided and amoral abuse of violence. Is Stone's depressing vision accurate or just the product of a shell-shocked Vietnam veteran with massive conspiracy fantasies? The answer isn't clear, but I remain convinced, six years after its initial release, that Natural Born Killers is a powerful and effective piece of art because it savagely confronts us with these vital questions and doesn't blink from unpleasant realities.
on 26 November 2003
The first time I saw this, my impression was of a garbled mess. Subsequent viewings uncovered the skill with which this film was made.
This is not a film to have on in the background - it deserves your sole attention. Much was made on its release of the violence in it - this is the whole point. Stone, in his usual sledgehammer, blinkered way, gets his message across very strongly. Harrelson, who up until then had played amiable idiots, is a remarkably believable psycopath. Juliette Lewis is adequate (sorry, she just naturally winds me up) and the supporting cast put in energetic performances.
However, it is the technical wizardry and multiple media that make this a great film. To paraphrase Stone, it's an art film with a Hollywood budget.
Oliver Stones controversial Natural Born Killers was developed from a script by Quentin Tarantino although Tarantino was unhappy with the artisitic direction Stone chose and distanced himself from the project.
The movie follows murderous lovers, Mickey and Mallory Knox as they carve a bloody path across America and become media darlings in the process. The film looks like an acid trip and flits between colour, black & white and animation, cut with violent imagery of death and destruction. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are on fine form as the stone cold psychopaths and are supported by Robert Downey Jr playing the deplorable journalist Wayne Gale and Tommy Lee Jones as a highly strung prison warden.
The films relentless violence and glorification of Mickey and Mallory's antics recieved a lot of criticism and the film remained banned for 8 years. I think the film is misunderstood. Stone is trying to comment on the media obsession with violence and crime. It's like an exaggerated OJ simpson trial which descended into a shambling media circus where the severity of the crimes and victims were completely forgotten. This is exactly what happens in Natural Born Killers only they just happened to kill 52 people for kicks.
Natural Born Killers is a difficult watch as the camera work and style are so shaky but I think this represents the insanity of Mickeys mind. I can't recommend this movie highly enough, the final act where the pair are in prison is absolutely brilliant. The special edition features the notorious court room scene with Ashley Judd and the severed head on a stick bit from the prison riot.
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