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Basic Instinct Reviews

Page 1 of 153

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2010
"Basic Instinct" is the type of interesting film that is both insane and calm at the same time. If you are watching anyone besides Michael Douglas on screen, they seem almost as if nothing has happened. As the opening scene of the film shows a very sexual murder, the remainder is about trying to put together the pieces as to who actually killed this man. It may not be a perfect movie, due to the predictability, but it sure has you guessing. I really enjoyed watching this film and I almost came to love it, until the final shot of the film. The last shot throws the entire film through a loop and makes everything confusing. This is a great film at it's core, but sometimes falls flat. Still, I loved watching it.

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2006
If I'm not mistaken, this is probably the gold standard of erotic thrillers. It's a stylish, lurid romp that owes a fair debt to Hitchcock, but due to just how graphic and sleazy it gets sometimes, the film really has far more in common with the works of Hitch devotee Brian De Palma more than anything.

Nick Curran is a troubled cop with a troubled past whose latest murder investigation leads him to Catherine Tramell- a lovely bisexual author of sleazy pulp who is the prime suspect because her lover is the victim, and was killed in a fashion basically verbatim from a scene from one of her novels. Nick makes the questionable decision to begin a torrid affair with Tramell, as he is really unsure if she's truly the suspect, but also because she's just too alluring to ignore, no matter how much danger could be involved.

The film really tows the line between exploitative sleaze and actual cinematic merit. It's not always balanced, as the plot often gets cast aside for sex and violence, but the film is certainly nothing if not intensely memorable. The look is great, the score is phenomenal, the performances are quite solid, especially from Stone as Tramell, and, if you watch the director's cut, the film really delivers the goods where the violence and lust are concerned.

This sort of thing is generally Z-Grade schlock, but I found the treatment of the material here to be surprisingly solid and entertaining. It's no masterpiece of course, but it's certainly a highlight on the B-List of Verhoeven's filmography.

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2011
Paul Verohoeven controversial erotic Thriller is a memorable film about a sexy author accused of killing her lover with an ice pick because she wrote similarities to the murder in one of her books, she is the prime suspect. Sharon Stone plays author Catherine Trammel who is under investigation for the murder and Michael Douglas plays Detective Nick Curtan who investigates the murder. Basic Instinct is a mind bending thriller with terrific, thrilling and exhilarating moments. Paul Verhoeven's directing is as usual solid, bold and he keeps the film moving along with each provocative frame. Sharon Stone definitely lights up the screen, and this is one of her best roles. Basic Instinct is a non stop thrill ride from start to finish and it keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. Paul Verhoeven has made better films, but Basic Instinct is still an entertaining and well acted film. If you enjoy most of Verhoeven's work, then your most likely going to enjoy this film as well, it's a change of pace for the director, but not one that shy's away from the usual controversy that most of his films get due to their amount of violence.
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

May 28, 2011
Erotic thrillers have never had much by way of credibility. They have a reputation for being cheesy, lurid and sleazy, and are often lumped together with horror movies as the stuff that 'sensible', 'reasonable' citizens wouldn't touch with a twenty-foot pole. But as with horror, some erotic thrillers manage to explore interesting, often edgy ideas in amidst the gratuitous sex scenes and clunky dialogue. Basic Instinct is one such film.

Although the groundwork had been laid by Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct was the film which brought the erotic thriller into the mainstream. The controversy surrounding its R rating in America and misplaced allegations of homophobia created a whirlwind of publicity, which catapulted Sharon Stone to short-lived stardom and made an entire generation give in to guilty pleasure, if only for a couple of hours.

In bringing the erotic thriller to the multiplex, there is surprisingly little attempt on the part of anyone to sanitise the content, or make changes that would make the story less cheesy. The opening 20 minutes are pure cheese, as people take their clothes off with abandon, detectives trudge around in dark suits, and Catherine Tramell sashays around delivering every line like it's a turn-on. Joe Eszterhas' script is chock full of absurd one-liners that would have made Greg Dark proud - the best being the detectives' remark that the first victim "got off before he got offed".

As well as being everything you'd expect from an erotic thriller, Basic Instinct is everything you'd expect from a Paul Verhoeven film - it's sleazy, trashy, cheesy, and quite good fun. Verhoeven was in his commercial prime, having made a splash with Robocop and Total Recall, and had explored sexual crime previously in The 4th Man. Basic Instinct may have opened the floodgates for a wave of worse films, from the Demi Moore vehicle Striptease to William Friedkin's Jade, but outside of its legacy it is a smarter film than has often been assumed.

As with Total Recall, Basic Instinct begins with a big shock to separate the men from the boys. During the opening credits, with Jerry Goldsmith's eerie soundtrack and the movements in mirrored glass, we see the name of Rob Bottin - the make-up artist who did the effects on Total Recall and The Thing. His presence perplexes us: why would an erotic thriller need its own special effects boffin? Then you see the killer's ice pick go through the face and neck of Johnny Boz, and you sit there frozen to the spot, with no further questions.

Basic Instinct is a deeply stylised film, which never feels the need to be visually realistic if a creative decision would enhance the mood of a given scene. In the famous interrogation scene, Verhoeven's long-time collaborator Jan de Bont lights the bunker-like room very unusually. Instead of having both parties in equal amounts of light, Catherine Tramell is lit in blinding white light coming from the floor, while the detectives are shrouded in darkness. This gives things a prominent noir feel while conveying the theme of women being in control: the detectives become like voyeurs, wishing to gaze longingly at Catherine without showing too much of their faces.

This scene brings on to one of the big talking points in Basic Instinct, namely the gratuitous nudity. We know what to expect up to a point: it wouldn't be an erotic thriller without some flesh, and the film is helmed by the man who left teenage boys drooling at the sight of a three-breasted woman from Mars. But even by those standards, the level of sex or nudity is way over-the-top. The film may not be totally exploitative in its treatment or depiction of women, but it does tip over into base titillation in several scenes. The moment where Sharon Stone crosses her legs is pure exploitation: to all those in denial, it's clearly not her thigh showing up on screen!

Like many attempts to bring something inherently trashy or silly into the mainstream, the story of Basic Instinct is contrived to the point of being ridiculous. The most obvious example of this is the level of intuition which Catherine Tramell possesses: it's one thing being able to guess what someone is going to say, but always being in the same place as the detective is a whole different matter. In its action moments it often gets completely silly, asking us to believe that Michael Douglas could participate in a high-speed chase only seconds after being knocked down by a car.

It will be clear by now that Basic Instinct is not a film for the faint-hearted, either in its full-on visual style or its blatant disregard for narrative cohesion. But once we have gotten past the sleaze, and the violence, and the smoking, and the swearing, and the silly action scenes, we do begin to see something going on beneath the surface, which turns into that kernel of substance buried deep in the heart of Verhoeven's work.

All of Verhoeven's films are essentially about questions of identity. In Robocop, how much is Murphy still a man and how much is he a machine? In Total Recall, has Quaid really been to Mars, or is the whole thing an implant? In Basic Instinct, the question revolves around Catherine Tramell and the motivations behind her unusual behaviour. Is she purely and simply the Devil, who taunts men for sport and uses her books to cover up her brutal murders? Or is she someone with a warped mind who is caught up in these events, someone who craves attention but has no desire to kill for it?

The wanton nature of the character is designed not merely to titillate, but to explore - albeit broadly - the sexual independence of women. Catherine doesn't need men to control her or define her in any way, and her actions are not motivated by a direct Freudian urge, e.g. craving affection to make up for the fact that Daddy showed her none. She treats men and women equally as playthings, taking the dominant role in every relationship.

This brings us on to the position of gay and lesbian groups, who used the film to attack what they perceived as Hollywood homophobia. The film may be clichéd in its depiction of lesbianism or bisexuality on an aesthetic level - all the lesbians in the film are still dolled-up and attractive enough to make them naturally appealing to men. But Basic Instinct is not homophobic in its view of sexual preference as a lifestyle choice. It maturely chooses not to make an issue of Catherine's sexuality; in other words, who she sleeps with has no direct bearing on whom or why she kills.

The film borrows heavily from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, with Verhoeven restaging certain sections involving the Golden Gate Bridge or the various steep staircases. There is a close parallel between the characters, with Michael Douglas being driven to obsession and Sharon Stone harbouring some kind of self-destructive impulse. One could say this is what a Hitchcock film would have looked like had such levels of sex and violence been acceptable in the 1950s.

In the end, however, Verhoeven's efforts to keep things totally ambiguous don't quite work as well as in Total Recall. While there are moments in which it is reasonable to believe that Catherine isn't completely insane, the final act in which Beth Garner is 'revealed' as the killer feels too contrived to cut the mustard. Jeanne Tripplehorn's character has been so peripheral up until this point that we never really believe she could have done it, even if all the plot points add up.

While it never reaches the heights of The 4th Man or Verhoeven's previous Hollywood efforts, Basic Instinct remains an enjoyable thriller which manages to raise a number of intelligent issues even in its most lurid moments. It has more than its share of problems, either relating to its plot or the inherent cheesiness of the erotic thriller genre. But as a guilty pleasure or something a little smarter than you'd think, it demonstrates that, once in a while, embracing trash is not such a bad thing.

Super Reviewer

August 9, 2009
Great action-packed erotic thriller. Michael Douglas & Sharon Stone were great together & I did not expect the ending to this movie either. :) Love this movie. :) It ranks high up in my fave movies! :) I love it soooo much. :) Should be on the Top 250 on IMDB!!! :) I love it!!!!!!!!!! :) Such a great film! :) A true classic! :) Me & my sister love to watch this movie together :) Love it!!! :) You have to watch it!!!!!!!! :) One of my absolute favorites :)
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

August 3, 2010
Amid the industry pressures of anti-gay sentiment and the sexualized nature of most of the scenes, Basic Instinct is still quite interesting in it's strange view of authenticity that the director is so well known. The mystery of the murdered man isn't quite as prevalent as whether the next scene will feature the ethically buoyant Catherine Tramell. Note: Do not watch with parents.

Super Reviewer

April 12, 2007
Sexy and well-directed thriller, with a radiant cast and incredibly intriguing plotline. Stellar performances by Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone, makes this into one of the most memorable movies of the 90's. If I were to make a metaphor out of it, I'd say it's like beautiful antique sword with an unsharpened edge; elegant in its cinematography and settings, but also blunt and graphic and its language and violence. But what else can you expect from a director like Paul Verhoeven. He is, after all, the mastermind behind two of my all-time favourite sci-fi films (namely Starship Troopers and Total Recall). And having also seen this now, it's evident that his brilliance isn't limited to that genre alone.

Super Reviewer

July 15, 2010
Verhoeven films are dominated by either sex or violence, usually both. Michael Douglas might be one of Hollywood's biggest horndogs ever, he's always doin' it on camera. Sharon Stone clearly is a hoe but the duo fits this movie perfectly. The plot was intriguing but it bottomed out at the end. I'm surprised this movie didn't get an X rating because I'm pretty sure I saw Michael Douglas' dong, and you know Sharon Stone didn't hide anything.

Super Reviewer

December 15, 2007
alfred hitchcock is the very master to redner the concept of cinema as scopophilia, or plainly speaking voyeurism (we peek others' life thru a camera, and the essence of cinema could be a self-righteous pimp of consensual public voyeurism.), in his legendary works like "vertigo,""rear window" and "psycho"..,particularly in "vertigo," hitchcock trifles with the idea of perverse love thru scopophilia as jimmy stewart falls in love with kim novak during the process of peeping her...later kim novak re-emerges as a brunette to romance stewart but once the hair color and wardrobe change, nothing is the same, the man has to stick to his highly fetishized notion of love by transforming the drak judy into the blonde madeleine even both women are actually the same person. they're the fundamental vertigo formuli. the two modes of the male protagonist would be his eager "demysification" or "decoding" of the enigmatic woman, and his fetishization upon her. surprisingly you would find how hitchcockian basic instinct could actually be before your head gets dizzy over the fever of sharon stone's crotch or annoyed over the highly heated sex-fanatic basic instinct has aroused in 90s.

to begin with, basic instinct whirls around michael douglas' impulsive copper tailing over the seductive but psychopathic female suspect, played by blonde sharon stone, within the bumpy hills of san fransisco. douglas drives his vehicle around to track down stone's behaviors to gather clues for the murder case. he watches her changing clothes in complete nude from a far distance with a drooling throb just like stewart's trailing behind kim novak with a yearning crush. meanwhile this hot-tempered copper also has flings with the female shrink, who happens to be a brunette, whom he uses for temporal release, in frisco's police bureau. as everyone who has seen basic instinct would know, the female shrink (jeanne tripplehorn) later is revealed to have had lesbian sex with stone and possibly has been a creepy impersonator of stone during her younger college days, additionally she may also perform muders under the blonde wig. in vertigo, the dark judy has to dye her hair blonde and dress like blonde madeleine to gain a sense of sexual potency over her man. blonde hair has been fetishized as a token of omnipotency in sex or violence, thus jeanne tripplehorn's character needs to impersonate the blonde powerful sharon stone in the course of murder as well as sexual tease.

jimmy stewart breaks the shield between he and madeleine when madeleine dives into the san fransisco bay, and that is a perfect excuse for him to play the part of accidental knight to justify his attempt to practice his obsession over this woman. but in basic instinct, the stimulus is much stronger as time processes and the barrier of censorship has been torn, douglas' character could only get into stone's private chamber after being suspended on leave (stewart's a retired cop in vertigo, and he romances novak when he's not a cop anymore) other words, douglas needs to justify his wish to bed stone by his temporal discharge from policeman service. then a series of sexual ecstacies ensue as douglas "escorts" stone in an orgiastic nightclub where everyone gets high on the binge of dope and mix-gendered sex.

besides the notion of scopophilia/voyeurism and sexual fetishization, the rest of the movie is a pulp mutation of dominatrix erotism within threesome intercourse and gory death under the pinnacle of maniac orgasm(killed by an icepick when you finally cum). it is absurd for anyone to associate those elements with "homophobic uglification" or "ferocious feminism"..there's nothing feministic in the character of catherine trammel because it's an imaginary invention of almightly dominatrix in one of heterosexual male's masturbatory fantasies..(have you ever watch the works by eric stanton, whose erotic comics are about men getting his sexual titilations from getting beaten by voluptuous woman who force men into oral sex and butt-spanking??)

conclusively, basic instinct is definitely a vertigo twist in paul verhoeven's naughty, whimsical ways.

(ps) sharon stone's white dress and overcoat during the notorious police inquest do have a resemblance to novak's clothes in vertigo...the whole vertigo-esque look is demure and sophisticated, of course, until she opens her legs to exhibit her vulva..ha. with her blonde hair combed properly, stone ignites a cigarette with absolute composure...that's definitely a luring image. perhaps, catherine trammel is a dirty old man's wishful idea of turning the vertigo lady into some highly fuckable tramp who would do everyone, man and woman alike, indiscriminantly.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

December 8, 2009
For what it is, Basic Instinct is perfect. It's an extremely well done suspense thriller that actually had some unpredictability to it. Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone were both really great. Paul Verhoeven presents a very interesting San Fransisco backdrop that rivals Hitchcock's Vertigo. It is extremely bold and goes where no movie ever went before. I think it's very much a homage to the plots of the noir genre, but it really doesn't have the same look at all. There's too much camera movement and colorful backgrounds to be considered neo-noir. It was very much a new age of cinema.

Super Reviewer

March 25, 2007
One of the greatest thrillers ever made. It still loses a star for all the sex. Sorry people, can't let it slide, no matter what.

Super Reviewer

January 14, 2010
Almost a 5-star movie. The story is telled very great. Great performance by every character. An my of the greatest endings ever (oh's way up there with halloween 3)
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 24, 2009
A load of old muff!
Luke B

Super Reviewer

April 15, 2009
A well played and well made thriller. It's biggest tricks are giving you the answers, but then making you doubt them. Douglas, Stone and Tripplehorn make for a wonderful threesome. They bicker, they love and they create decent enough conflict to warrant the films running time.Verhoeven handles the sex and violence in graphic ways which often become too glorified. This may be in an attempt to get our hearts racing at inappropriate behaviour, in the same way that Douglas' character is suddenly liberated. Solid and daring filmmaking, but ultimately the word of mouth has elevated this film to something that it cannot achieve.
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

October 7, 2008
The 90's was a decade that was blessed with many great movies, yet there are none greater than that of Basic Instinct. It is a truly great film. With Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone heading a wonderful cast, this was one of the great thriller movies I can remember watching. It had everything a movie could want, a bit of mystery, sex, intrigue and murder. There will need to be a pretty good movie to replace this classic from the top as one of the greatest all-time thrillers.

Nick Curran is a disgraced San Francisco police detective who helps investigate the murder of a prominent city official. Curran has a history of alcoholism and drug abuse although he is clean now. Catherine Tramell, the chief suspect, a spoiled rich girl with a background in psychology is toying with Curran's mind. When Curran is taken off the case, he enters into a dangerous relationship with Tramell, which could have bad implications. Soon everyone Curran comes into contact with turns into a suspect.

Undoubtedly, this movie is most famous for it's high level sex scenes that it contains. While I did enjoy them, they are overrated just a fraction. I must admit Sharon Stone has an incredible body and she certainly knows all the moves. These scenes also turned Michael Douglas into a sex manic of sorts and partially ruined his first marriage to Diandra Luker. Yet they create quite a mood for this film and are the main reason why it was the success it was.

The cast was great in this too. Michael Douglas is a Hollywood legend and this film only made him even more popular. His role as a the down and out cop was great. Douglas has some great films to his credit. These include Romancing the Stone, Fatal Attraction (not to similar to Basic Instinct), A Perfect Murder, and of recent Traffic (alongside his second wife Catherine Zeta Jones) and Don't say a word. Then what do you say about Sharon Stone? Before this film she was virtually an unknown, then she stormed on to our screens, without letting audiences take a breathe. Her film credits include The quick and the dead, Total Recall and The Specialist.

Other cast members include Jeanne Tripplehorn, who played Curran's ex-wife and Psychologist Dr Elizabeth Garner. Her role made me feel very anxious to realise what was going to happen. The sex scene involving her was a little hard to take. Then you have the good guy of the film, Gus, played by George Dzundza, but the way we see him go is also too much to handle. One other actress I did recognise, was Leilani Saralle, who played one of Catherine Tramell's gay lover's, Roxy.

Basic Instinct had a very good director, that being Paul Verhoven. He made this film extremely well and any other director might have got it wrong. He has made some other good films including Robo Cop, Starship Troopers and Total Recall. He did do one big flop, that being Showgirls. He commented on that film by saying `I think it was bad too'. I am sorry Paul, but you were right. Basic Intinct's script was pretty good in how it left you dangling. It was like you were in a big game of cat and mouse. I can understand that some people might not like it for that reason, but I thought it was good. The movie also had a great musical score attached to it, giving the movie a chilling feel to it.

So, all in all Basic Instinct is a film that I will always remember. It was so controversial that where I come from, I remember people needed to show there ID to get into the local cinemas, because of its sexual and violent content. I don't blame the cinemas for doing so, because it is not suitable for young eyes to see. If you want to watch a great thriller, then sit down and watch Basic Instinct. Trust me its ?nice'!

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2008
This is like The Crying Game's other half/sister, same forgettable cheesy story, and both just remembered for showing genitalia when you less expected.
Alexander W

Super Reviewer

January 27, 2008
I prefer the second film , but this thriller tease movie will have you on the edge of your seats.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2007
Considered quite a corny film now, I can't help but still like the story to this. Still enjoyed it.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

December 24, 2007
A movie that everyone remembers for the seemingly gratuitous nudity, it really doesn't need most of it... at least not in the way that it was needed to keep you watching a terrible movie (see: Swordfish)... but to complement Michael Douglas's character's devolution into the actor's most primal role, though, it is essential, and really takes you down the rabbit hole. The story is mediocre, the ending is too clumsily wide-open, but the performance Douglas turns in is one of his best, with Sharon Stone doing a consistently decent job. The supporting cast is weak, but the rawness brought to this homage to noir is something truly novel. Not necessarily a great movie, but no one can deny that it's an important one.
William S

Super Reviewer

November 4, 2007
Maybe Basic Instinct is a load of old crap but Paul Verhoeven is a man who cares about what he is doing I think. Maybe he just blurs the line between screaming camp and high art! I get that with Basic Instinct - on the one hand it's a love letter to Hitchcock (especially Vertigo) then on the other it feels like a dirty old man's wet dream! (of course that can be construed as Hitchcockian!). Either way it's deeply cinematic and that's what I'm interested in.
On occasion it is filmed as soft-core porn (the kind of way some deluded people say Hitch would be making films today) and I have to admit to being a bit embarrassed at seeing Stone and Douglas thrashing about - then again, sex in a Verhoeven film always makes me squirm for some reason.
Sharon Stone is a knock-out here and I don't think it's a flaw in the story that you dislike Michael Douglas' character so much that we actually root for Stone - moral ambiguity is intrinsic to a Hitchcockian thriller.
And thank God we are less uptight here than some circles in America and have taken Basic Instinct on it's merits as a film and not on whether it is homophobic or not - an accusation that was incomprehensible to the very Dutch and very liberal Verhoeven and I feel the same. Then again, the people who claimed this was Homophobic also levelled the same accusation at Silence of the Lambs cus Buffalo Bill wore a dress!! Er, hello! has anyone even seen Psycho?? It's testament to the craziness of political correctness that we got the insipid and sexless homos of Philidelphia as a way of 'apology' by Jonathan Demme for Silence of the Lambs supposed homophobia. Give us a break! Now THAT IS insulting. I know which film I will still be watching in 10 years time!
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