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Customer Review

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much criticised but highly under-rated modern classic......., 7 Dec. 2001
This review is from: Natural Born Killers - Box Set [DVD] (DVD)
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.
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