The Doors - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Doors Reviews

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½ August 13, 2017
Stone focused too much on Jim Morrison and not enough on the band itself. Plus why was the movie's lighting so hazy and annoying? Was it on purpose? Parts of the movie are pretty good. I really enjoyed Val Kilmer's performance. I just wish Oliver had given the movie more of a biography on the band like the title suggests.
June 23, 2017
Amazing job Val did on playing Jim Morrison!
June 2, 2017
Val Kilmer is uncanny in this role. His every pore exudes Jim Morrison. However, I think that Meg Ryan was not the best choice for playing the part of Pam. Oliver Stone did a great job as always, but left a lot of questions unanswered (as maybe they should remain). All in all quite an epic film, with of course an extraordinary music theme.
April 29, 2017
A movie that defines the cinematic acid trip. The Doors works as a double-entendre title, both headlining the band itself as the film's main subject, and alluding to the many gateways opening in Jim Morrison's mind, all leading to the same path towards death. Right from the get-go, Jim's only purpose is to die, and since we know that's the famed singer's eventual fate, it's an appropriate objective. Something about seeing a dead native in the desert as a child affects him, perhaps he senses cruelty and injustice from invaders who've stolen this man's freedom. Perhaps he doesn't feel right being alive if the members of his race kill. Perhaps I'm over analyzing, but whatever the case, the desert becomes a second home to him. Visually I got lost in another movie for a moment, as Stone will later retread this territory in Natural Born Killers (which I saw first), furthering the idea of white man's unjust invasion and murder of natives.

As always with Oliver Stone, we get the frenetic paced, swooping camera, musically accompanied journey that is a staple of all his films. I love the way we get absorbed into Jim's recording as the camera pushes in on him in the studio booth, only to crane over and reveal Pamela on her knees giving felatio while he sings. The way Stone directs the camera with Robert Richardson is so that it is constantly moving, almost floating at times, drifting in a trippy kind of motion. As a result, the camera seems to catch things, like Jim in a particular silhouette with appropriate lens flares creeping in and out. I love the tawny reflection on the plane as Jim flies into an orange New York. The film's most dominant colors are red, yellow, and their baby orange. We see a lot of red in the clubs and concerts he plays at, red color screens as transitions, and red blood rituals - it's the color closest to darkness, an appropriate shadow following Jim.

Stone has a tendency to work with extremes, like fellow New York filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick. It's loud, raucous, audacious, vivacious, perverse. We see lots of nudity, sex and adultery, violence, drugs and inebriation are a constant, lewd behavior unending. Jim and Patricia are drinking blood together, Jim tries to set Pamela on fire in a closet, Jim and Pamela dangle from a rooftop, Jim and Pamela throw hard objects at each other, then food at each other as they break up a Thanksgiving party, Jim pisses at a bar, gets a blow job on an elevator, Pamela gets addicted to heroin... the list is almost endless, you'd write about each scene and it'd be something ridiculous. Stone is certain he is going to keep our eyes open and entertain us every step of the way, never falling into some sappy melodramatic conventionalism, or harsh confrontational dialogue - when that happens, it's messy, noisy, distorted. Everything happens so that it reflects Jim's perspective, a perfect director/subject mirror relationship. I'm sure Stone drew from his own experiences with hard drugs as well.

Val Kilmer was born to play this role, his performance is provocative, daring bravura. He entirely puts his mind, body, and soul into the character, and it never feels like mimicry - this extends as far as growing a gut for the latter portion of Jim's life. Look at how he puts it all out there during the photoshoot with Mimi Rogers - bending and twisting his body in unique poses with great humility. Maybe it's easier to do this in character, but if I was just being myself, I doubt I could pose like that. There are numerous uncomfortable scenes, which he handles with total command - his violent outbursts at Pamela or the band, cutting his wrists with Patricia, numerous sex scenes.

Meg Ryan goes beyond her cutesy rom-com propensity, but she borrows traits which counterbalance Jim so that they have a perfectly unstable relationship, his lewd and rude versus her cute and cuddly. As an avid Lynchian aficionado, I love Kyle MacLachlan in anything. His introduction as Ray Manzarek defines him instantly - he dresses in a sleek sports coat, is sophisticated enough to attend film class at UCLA and appreciate Jim's avant garde filmic poetry, and his first words to Jim address a rowdy dismissive classroom, "fuck them, it's brilliant." And I love Michael Wincott's entire presence as Rothschild; something about his usual raspy voice and pointy face just seems to fit the mold of this record producer.

The most detracting aspect of The Doors is also it's most helpless part of the story: Jim is hopeless, doomed to a tragic fate, and there's never a glimmer of hope. It's an exercise in downward spiral without the conventional character arc of rise, fall, rise again, nor fall, rise, fall again; the whole film is a steady downward slope. We are simply meant to experience the attitude of his passerby life. The only rise is at the early onset; stardom seems to happen quickly and easily. From there, we watch his life drift away in excessive carousing without a moment of even considering any change. From a dramatic perspective, academically it seems to be what's missing. But I wonder if it would've made it a more boring, conventional experience. Perhaps I'm being too critical and missing what's essential about the whole show. It definitely warrants rewatching.
April 2, 2017
Psychedelic approach to a Rock&Roll legend serviced by a towering performance courtesy of Val Kilmer. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but worth exploring at least once.
April 1, 2017
Loved their sound. But often sounded a bit 'satanic', words and music. Intentionally, I suspect.
I'd give it a 4 for truth? But a zero for what a jerk.
Sic Semper jerks. ?
½ March 1, 2017
What a TERRIBLE BAND, The Doors is, and what a TERRIBLE MOVIE it is.
½ February 19, 2017
Instead of portraying the fascinating and complex real-life Morrison, Stone opts to tell a dreary, one-dimensional bore.
January 29, 2017
5 out of 5 stars! Really great film about one of the greatest bands in history! Definitely among top 2 American Classic Rock bands along with the Gratreful Dead. Val Kilmer really brought Jim Morrison to life and him and the rest of the cast and crew really made a compelling film about one of the greatest and saddest stories in Rock history. I LOVE the Doors!
January 3, 2017
Different exciting and weird, it's perfect!
½ December 24, 2016
53%
Oliver Stone's "The Doors" has some great cinematography and Val Kilmer fits the role, but it offers little character development and becomes a repetitive affair that feels more like a playlist than a movie.

V: 66%
½ December 7, 2016
The most realistic approach to the lifestyle of one of the most influential music groups of all time, director Oliver Stone shows on how destructive the power of drugs and the occult can have on a group of musicians, especially the lead singer Jim Morrison!
½ September 22, 2016
I KNOW I'm giving way too many stars for this, but I don't care; The Doors were one of my very first favourite groups. I fondly recall, when I was 11, and Elektra Records released 'The Doors' Greatest Hits', and the album-length version of 'Light My Fire' was played all the time on the radio, and I was mesmerized by the instrumental middle of the song, got the album from my parents for Christmas, and started a lifelong love affair with the band. Yes, Jim Morrison is highly overrated. Yes, the movie is an extremely self-indulgent mess and it can be quite incoherent and incohesive. But the Sixties, the L.A. rock scene back then, and especially Morrison's life, were just like that, so it is oh so fitting!

I adore the fact that it was Oliver Stone's labour of love (one of thankfully many) and that the surviving members of the band basically had full input. I would take this and 'Talk Radio' (my personal favourite Stone's throw) over a hundred of Stone's politically over-the-top movies any day!

When I was 17, I took my life savings and visited, on my own, nine European countries, including France and its capital, Paris. Did I go for the Eiffel Tower, wild romance on Richard Linklater-esque trains, or its outstanding magic and sidewalk cafes? No--train-wise I had to put up with a stupid labour strike, such that an overnight sleeper car from Berne, Switzerland to Paris had to be switched, in the middle of the night, FOUR times, just so they could prove a point. And it was just to see Morrison's grave. I met 20 fantastic people who had made the pilgrimage from all over the world, and it was my first time having red wine and smoking pot. The graffiti and the sculpture of him, in the Pere Lachaise cemetery, were fascinating, as was his life. Would I go through that again? Of course I would.

It's Val Kilmer's best work by a mile. The film just oozes charisma and breathes life--just as the band's work must have done back in the day. Worth a purchase and re-watches (I watch it each year on Jim's birthday and accidentally bought it twice), for any fan of 60's music or its culture. A bonafide classic when Stone was actually really something.
August 24, 2016
Severely underrated. One small nitpick, is when Indian Summer plays in the background, the song clearly ends, but they loop it, then after about ten seconds they cut the song short and play the end line. It is jarring to anyone who knows that song pretty well, but most people won't notice. And one large plot point left unexplained,the car crash at the beginning of the film is a reenactment of something Morrison saw in his childhood. Morrison had said the spirit of that indian man leapt into his body, and they could've noted that with one single line of dialogue in the film, but sadly, they did not. That could've helped audiences understand the heavy impact of the scene, especially because the film flashes back to it numerous times. Anyways, Val Kilmer plays an insanely convincing Jim Morrison. If you like the music of the Doors, you will like this film, if not you'll probably still enjoy it, but you won't get as much out of it.
½ August 15, 2016
Another bombastic movie from Oliver Stone, notorious director of overlong, violent, chaotic movies. Allegedly, Stone wanted to pay tribute to the Doors, a group that was the soundtrack of his youth. What he ended up doing was bad-mouthing Jim Morrison.

In fact, the movie should not even be titled "The Doors, because it is almost exclusively about Morrison's debauchery and flirting with death. A relatively wealthy and healthy kid, Morrison was permanently tormented (by what?) during his short life, did not appreciate fame and fortune, and ended up as an alcoholic and a junkie.

It is well known that Morrison was obsessed by a car crash he witnessed as a child. However, his report of the accident was questioned by his whole family who was travelling with him. None of his relatives saw what Jim mentioned (bodies of Indians lying on the road) and the whole accident was probably just a minor one.

This episode is saying a lot about the self-aggrandising attitude of Jim and his egotism. Not to mention that drunkards and junkies tend to be self-obsessed and boring, even - or maybe even more - when they are rock stars. Morrison's saving graces were his sex appeal and his skill with words. Stone chose to dilute the story of Morrision' self destruction with endless sequences of Kilmer (uncannily looking like Morrison) gyrating on stage, drinking, screwing every woman around and being obnoxious.

I am sure nobody would like to put up with that, but at the end of the movie we have a weird scene of the Door splitting up and the other members expressing regret at Morrison's departure to France. I would have been delighted to see him go... Finally, his death is treated as a mystery, as if a junkie dying of an overdose would be so mysterious...

Strictly for the most die-hard fans, who no doubt will find something likable and/or regret that their hero was presented in such an unflattering fashion.
July 23, 2016
Middle of the road rise & fall of a musician biography. Nothing in this one you can't find in any other movie of its sub-genre.
July 12, 2016
There's a lot to like about Oliver Stone's take on the story of the formation of legendary rock band The Doors, notably the life of frontman Jim Morrison. Far and away the most impressive aspect of The Doors is Val Kilmer's portrayal of Morrison: there are always claims of actors and actresses embodying their characters, and Kilmer truly does just that. Between his eerily similar physical resemblance, his haunting portrayal of Morrison's rebellious personality and his rise and fall, and his stunning vocal similarity (original recordings of Morrison are occasionally mixed with Kilmer's vocals, but the rest are all Kilmer), it's no exaggeration to say that Kilmer is not playing Morrison: for 140 minutes, Val Kilmer truly is Jim Morrison. Oliver Stone directs the film with an appropriate surreal nature that, naturally, emulates the psychedelic drug-fueled culture of 1960s Los Angeles: scenes where the film slips into a drug induced, dreamlike state are shot quite nicely.

This filming style ultimately hurts the film in the long run though. While Morrison was certainly influenced by drugs and had a strong fascination with spirituality and death, so much of the film's dialogue comes off as senseless rambling, often to the point that the film slows to a screeching halt. The film as a whole suffers from this quite often: simply put, this is not a story that necessitates a 140 minute runtime. Such a long runtime results in what seems like the same scenes being repeated multiple times: Morrison's instability leads to problems at a performance, he is scolded by band mates or managers or girlfriends, rinse and repeat at least three times. Aside from trimming down the runtime, perhaps a greater focus on Morrison's fellow band members, or even a more in-depth look at Morrison and his worldview outside of his media circus of sorts, would result in a narrative that flows more smoothly and stays consistently engaging.

If you're willing to put aside some historical inaccuracies regarding the portrayal of Morrison as a person, any fan of The Doors shouldn't miss this film. The runtime drags every so often and the direction occasionally leads to some incoherency, but this is worth watching purely for Val Kilmer's portrayal of Jim Morrison. There's truly no words to describe how good he is.
July 5, 2016
This movie was not appreciated or perhaps even watched by some. Val Kilmer does a breathtaking job as Jim Morrison! I was just amazed at the uncanny similarities between Val and Jim. He did a spectacular job in catching the essence.
June 23, 2016
Though not a man with grand fondness for Oliver Stone's directorial style, the legendary legacy behind the titular band captivated my interest in seeing The Doors.

The first time I watched The Doors I found myself obsessed with the character depicted by Val Kilmer and found myself turning into a huge fan of the band. Prior to watching it the second time I read through Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre, Mick Wall's biography about the group and primarily Jim Morrison. What I gathered from the read is that a legend such as Jim Morrison is not a man whose story can be confined to a singular film. Re-watching the film supported this realization as within the meagre intro to the film it is clear that Oliver Stone has attempted to confine too much material into a short time period. Jim Morrison's childhood, experiences at UCLA film school and development of a relationship with Pamela Courson are all jam packed into the first 10 minutes of the film like a cheap series of vignettes. This structure is maintained for much of the early parts of the film which makes it difficult to embrace for a long time. It seems rather redundant that actual songs by The Doors plays during many of these scenes while the narrative attempts to take off, especially considering that the band has not yet formed within the context of the story. There are more gimmicks to captivate audiences as the film progresses, but it goes on for all too long and prevents the film from actually developing all that much. Given that audiences have to embrace this for 140 minutes, its really a lot to ask.
The problem with The Doors is mainly the fact that it is less a biography of its titular band and more a testament to the Jim Morrison myth. The first time around the film is a hypnotic examination of a mysterious legend, but upon a second viewing it is easier to look past this all and pick apart the flaws in the film. The Doors relies too much on recreating segments of Jim Morrison's life and captivating viewers with shock value to coerce them into thinking they are watching a brilliant film. Those familiar with Jim Morrison's antics can admire the mood of the feature and Val Kilmer's incredible performance, but a stronger understanding of the real story which the film cannot grasp will make it a challenge to completely admire. The obsession with the Jim Morrison myth neglects not only proper storytelling and real-world fidelity, but a fair depiction of the other people in the existence of The Lizard King. For one thing Pamela Courson's role in Jim Morrison's life exceeds the narrative grasp of the film. Her obsessive and self-destructive nature is not emphasized in the film, rather she is treated as a product of Jim Morrison's insanity more than her own character. As a result she is reduced to being a melodramatic subplot which does little more than distract from the central narrartive of the film. In reality the two were a co-dependent product of each other's descent into madness, and though Jim Morrison's influence on Pamela Courson was arguably more powerful than the alternative, Oliver Stone suggests that it was merely an exercise of power on behalf of Jim Morrison and nothing else. And also, there are other members of the band. If they have stories of their own then Oliver Stone sure as hell doesn't recognize it. And with that in mind, the film should not be titled The Doors when it is about The Lizard King and nobody else.
And the lack of histrorical context fails to ensure that audiences actually understand why it is that The Doors were such a hit. We gather that the shock value of Jim Morrison's antics were unforgettably distinctive, but the fact is that they came from a time of counterculture where the anti-establishment ideology fuelled the youth of America. The Doors' innovative musical style, poetic lyrical content and unconventional star power is what made them so legendary in a time of such disillusionment, but Oliver Stone is too busy idolizing Jim Morrison to explain why anyone else should. As much as I find Oliver Stone to be an obsessively self-indulgent filmmaker in too many cases, his efforts to capture the anti-establishment ideology in some of his better works display that he has a grip on the harsh reality of the 1960's from his own experiences. The Doors goes down with Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Nixon (1995) while the stylistic obsession and forsaken narrative evoke memories to Natural Born Killers (1994) which stands as one of the worst films I've ever seen. Frankly, The Doors is little more than a style-driven fantasy about a legendary musician which will work to introduce new audiences to Jim Morrison without much respect for those who appreciate the truth or narrative coherence.
However, there is no denial that Oliver Stone's keen eye for imagery makes for a trippy experience. The cinematography works to position the imagery brilliantly and put special emphasis on whatever the key focus is, while the colour scheme shifts into a more acidic fluorescent style in the most energized moments of the film. This creates an effectively atmospheric experience, and when Jim Morrison brings the film to its most intense scenes with the power of his music it is easy to get lost in the experience. As if it is a testament to the style of Dennis Hopper's iconic Easy Rider (1969) but done with a significantly larger budget, the manipulation of colour and lighting in The Doorsmakes for an unforgettable visual experience. And against the backdrop of tunes by The Doors, audiences are transported back to the glorious art of The Doors' heyday and treated to a tribute concert which is brought on with top notch production values. The Doors is worth watching for this experience alone because with both viewings I have found brilliant artistic ambition in the recreation of concerts by The Doors, and it works as a testament to Oliver Stone's credibility in one department even when his storytelling tenacity fails to match up to it.
But the real thing which brings The Doors to life is Val Kilmer in one of the greatest performances given by anyone in the history of cinema. The first time I viewed The Doors I was blown away by the larger-than-life creature he had depicted on screen and fell in love with Jim Morrison. After learning more about the real story behind him and the inaccuracies depicted in the story, I still cannot deny that Val Kilmer is an example of absolute flawless casting. Even upon a second viewing, I completely forgot that I was looking at Val Kilmer the second time. As the film started I took note to the way Val Kilmer captured the man's manner of walking and talking, but I quickly got so lost in it that I just embraced the fact that he actually became the man. In a perfect tribute that completely brought the man to life once again, Val Kilmer is perfect for the part inside and out. For once in an Oliver Stone film, an actor actually looks like the person they're meant to be playing. Val Kilmer's appearance, slick movements and facial expressions all perfectly embody the legendary Lizard King. And to add to it, Val Kilmer's recreation of Jim Morrison's iconic tone of voice is a remarkable tribute to the legend. Said to be so accurate that even actual surviving members of The Doors couldn't even differentiate it from the real thing, Val Kilmer captures the unpredictable and wide-toned nature of Jim Morrison's lyrical style and the raw passion of delivery. Val Kilmer loses himself in the role as if it is a remarkable drug trip, and he walks around in the very skin of Jim Morrison to an unforgettable extent of brilliance. Val Kilmer's performance is pure perfection which goes beyond the realm of acting and creates a new standard for performers everywhere, and the way that he manages to bring the best out of everyone around him with the depth and explosive spirit of his performance. The Doors is clearly Val Kilmer's finest hour, and his performance nails Jim Morrison with sufficient tenacity to compensate for areas of the screenplay which fail to accurately depict the character.
Meg Ryan isn't given a role with all that much depth which is a shame because there is a large story behind Pamela Courson herself which the film cannot see eye to eye with. She is reduced to her own melodramatic subplot which puts limitations on what Meg Ryan is allowed to do with her role. Ultimately, she delivers a fairly satisfying effort. Most of the value in her performance comes from her chemistry with Val Kilmer and the power they bring out of each other as their combined efforts make for some powerful moments of drama. Meg Ryan does what she can with the role and brings out a decent performance.
Even though they play to the background far too often, the raw passion in the performances of Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley and Kevin Dillon are in need of much appreciation. Kyle MacLachlan's sophistication, Frank Whaley's sense of confusion and Kevin Dillon's blunt nature provide a perspective into other sides of The Doors which hints at a story of far greater potential. Crispin Glover is a great fit as Andy Warhol as he captures a distinctive flamboyance in the part, and Kathleen Quinlan's mysterious nature makes her an intriguing addition. Michael Madsen is also an enjoyable presence, and Michael Wincott's reserved yet intense effort is befitting.

The Doors' obsession with the myth of Jim Morrison makes it a factually inacurrate story which is burdened by formulaic Hollywood cliches and a vignette narrative structure which prevents amy actual narrative development from occuring. But Oliver Stone's sense of style makes for a hypnotic experience while Val Kilmer's Academy Award-worthy performance solidifies it as an unforgettable experience.
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