Natural Born Killers Reviews
The first time I saw Natural Born Killers I honestly thought it was one of the worst films I had ever seen in my life. I had been worn down by much of Oliver Stone's self-indulgence and found that his gimmicks were wearing thin. After experiencing atrocities such as W. (2008) and Alexander (2004), I didn't go into Natural Born Killers with the highest expectations. The fact that they sank as low as they did really catch me off guard. I went into Natural Born Killers with extremely low expectations the second time around, but I still think it's one of the most self-indulgent failures I've ever seen on the cinematic screen.
Natural Born Killers is a film constructed purely out of rage. Oliver Stone was not only angry at America once again at the time of the production, but angry at his personal life as his second wife had left him. His anger evolved into a series of violent tendencies which he tried to string together into a script he reworked from Quentin Tarantino. The result is a film which is bereft of any real story yet insists on mercilessly pounding viewers over the head with its message. The film is a reworking of the Bonnie and Clyde narrative in the form of a massive drug trip. I can hardly call this is a film because it is so bereft of all the basic things one must implement to form an actual narrative, such as sensible structure, character development and any kind of story in the first place. Natural Born Killers is a film built heavily on subject matter and style, but nothing else. And given that the subject matter pertains to a message audiences are all too familiar with, that means it falls entirely on style.
While Scarface (1983) was the film that Oliver Stone used as a chance to kick his cocaine addiction, Natural Born Killer suggests that the man is back on the drugs. Given that a scene from Scarface actually appears in Natural Born Killers, the connection is obvious. Natural Born Killers is nothing but one long drug trip; one of the most style-obsessed films I have ever seen in my life, and it weighs down on audiences with such heavy weight that it becomes the film's most distinctive element. Those who are not enthralled by the style will look into the empty space of the film usually reserved for an actual story. However, the style is certainly difficult to ignore as the most notorious aspect of the film. And this is not a good thing whatsoever.
For one thing, the cinematography is so annoying. One film considered by many critics to be among the worst of all time is Roger Christian's Battlefield Earth (2000). One of the main criticisms of that film was the fact that essentially every single shot in the film was captured from a Dutch angle. When audience struggle to comprehend why he might have thought this was a good idea, we can look towards Natural Born Killers as a key factor in influencing him. It is rare that there is a shot in Natural Born Killers which isn't moving somewhere, and most of the time that follows into the position of a Dutch angle which grows boring really quickly. To top it off, the shots cut between different kinds of visual styles. There is an endless number of jarring shifts in the use of lighting, grayscale and actual camera quality as the film is bent on creating a psychedelic and semi-documentary feeling at the same time regardless of the fact that these elements fail to amalgamate in any sense. Many shots even occur on intentionally obvious green screen for the sake of using meaningless proscenium, and there are even animated segments. The constant shifts between what the hell Oliver Stone chooses to capture is not only confusing for its lack of sensibility, but it is overwhelming. The excessive variation in visuals is never-ending and actually fails to slow down at essentially any point in the film, constantly being cut at a ridiculous pace. The film is one which should trigger seizures in viewers due to its highly excessive nature, while everyone else is likely to be either bored or worn down by it. If you drop acid then it could be the greatest film ever, but it could also lead you two murdering two people like actual viewers of Natural Born Killers ended up doing. But essentially, the film is too misguided in style to earn anything but the grandest condemnation from me as a viewer.
Even with such a finely talented cast, the awful style of the film and lack of character development blunt the spirit of any performances from genuinely shining. Given that Natural Born Killers features a villainous turn from the immensely talented Woody Harrelson, this makes it a true shame that Oliver Stone had to be so ridiculously obsessive. Woody Harrelson is genuinely creepy and very intimidating through the sadistic stare in his eyes and the tone of his voice while his physical stature presents a threatening feeling as well. Woody Harrelson has all the makings of a strong performance except for an actual film to deliver it into, blunting what could have been an unforgettable performance.
Juliette Lewis is much in the same boat. Though she has a naturally-occurring dark edge to her, it doesn't come off as being much of an against-type performance on her behalf. Nevertheless, she contributes a dark and twisted performance where her chemistry with Woody Harrelson rich with a fiery passion. She can prove manipulative at times since she finds the appropriate moments to restrain herself before unleashing the full extent of her sadism all over again. Juliette Lewis knows how to keep audiences guessing with a mediated use of intensity, and she makes a powerful duo with Woody Harrelson as a result.
But the best performance of the cast comes from Robert Downey Jr.. While he has to suffer the same fate as his fellow actors, his character Wayne Gale spends more of the film talking than engaging in the sadistic violence of the lead actors and so there is a higher demand for acting on his behalf. With a natural talent about him, Robert Downey Jr. perfectly encapsulates the obsessive nature of the media. He begins obsessed with capturing violence for the purpose of gaining ratings but eventually finds himself seduced by his own obsessions and becomes more obsessive than ever before. Seeing Robert Downey Jr. reduce the character from a relentless egotist to a rage-fuelled animal proves to be the only piece of character development in the entire film. And even though it is extremely brief and part of a poorly structured narrative, it is still a pleasure to see the actor in top form from years prior to his career resurgence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Robert Downey Jr. reminds audiences that he was always a talented actor in Natural Born Killers.
It's also nice to see Rodney Dangerfield taking on a serious role for once, diverting familiar elements of his comedic persona to add a seriously creepy addition to the story.
Natural Born Killers wrings a dedicated performance out of Robert Downey Jr., but Oliver Stone's overwhelming blindness to sensible filmmaking creates an excessively self-indulgent drug trip with an excessively loud message and is more likely to induce epilepsy than intellectual thought.
It's one of those movies that are made for the masses to make them think they're getting something profound and edgy, but when examined it's just exploitative garbage that's void of any substance or profound message/commentary. It's the kind of thing you'd find on HBO, shows that have a lot of stuff going on to hide the fact that in reality nothing is going on that leads up to anything of importance. It's static formed into images with hip and cutting dialog. There was a reason why Tarantino distanced himself from this film since it's a clear bastardization of what he probably envisioned.
It's too on the nose and obvious for anyone with a brain, leaving you only with the excess that its trying to pass of as a hyperbolic metaphor for society's love of the taboo.
A great modern example of this would be Aronofsky's "Black Swan", or the current hit sensation Mr. Robot. It's something made for the dumb to make them feel smart. It's a philosophy lesson for idiots made by idiots.
I also just have an immediate hate for Juliette Lewis's contorted face and awful voice. There isn't any way to make anything she says not sound awful and whiney.
So in summation, it's like an old man trying to relate to the youth and not realising his finger isn't anywhere near anything that could resemble a pulse. With it's sophomoric philosophy lesson and excess.
Mickey and Mallory Knox are an insane couple that terrorize the country for three weeks as they decide to go into a killing spree throughout the USA.
First things first, when your movie features excessive and glorified violence, excessive use of vulgar language, nudity, rape and plenty of disturbing imagery, you pretty much make your film unwatchable for a large portion of the populous, but regardless of those massively controversial elements you would think that this film has something special/good as it has achieved an almost cult status and I just fail to find that special something. "Natural Born Killers" has very few pros like having Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson giving such over the top performances that they are a joy to watch, a at times amusing dark humor and the last half an hour is just so dumb that is excessively enjoyable (I haven't seen a more fun and bombastic climatic sequence in a while) but sadly the last 5 minutes take away the greatness of the previous 25 minutes. But regardless of those minimal successes "Natural Born Killers" is basically "A Clockwork Orange with Bonnie and Clyde" if it was written by Tarantino and was adapted by a director on acid (to the point of Stone ripping off Kubrick´s sporadic quick flashes but changing it for nonsensical and heavy-handed psychedelia). I mean both films have the same message about the exact same topic and both are extremely controversial but unlike Kubrick´s film Stone throws subtlety out the window and instead goes to an over the top style in case the viewer is dumb enough to miss the themes of the movie, plus his directing is just nonsensical as he goes from obvious 'symbolism' to inserting meaningless shots in-between scenes (sure a couple work but then he just randomly puts Coca Cola ads or badly drawn animations). And lastly this is one of the most 90s films I´ve ever seen thus the reason many people like it as this is a time capsule of that decade due to its obvious inspirations (which in case you missed them Stone puts them at the end of the film), soundtrack, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" editing, the juvenile humor and the fact that Tarantino´s fingerprints are all over the place.
"Natural Born Killers" is an extremely controversial, juvenile, over the top and desperate attempt to make a statement about violence in society without any subtlety and just keeps hitting you in the face with a hammer in case you missed it. If you are in your teen years or you enjoy juvenile stuff then this is a film made for you, but if you´re not then go ahead and watch "A Clockwork Orange", an actually mature, subtle and more than well-crafted film that addresses all those subjects.
Definitely a movie you should understand as fiction and get the idea of the message it's trying to tell.
A SATIRICAL MOVIE ABOUT THINGS HAPPENING ON THE MEDIA EYES.
Eu amava esse filme quando adolescente, e cai na bobeira de rever, quebrando a regras dos 15 anos.
Entendi porque o Tarantino odeia o resultado do seu script nas mãos o Oliver Stone: Filosofia pobre e superficial disfarçada de crítica profunda, takes com efeitos insuportáveis que não acrescentam nada a trama e, claro, a Julliete Lewis implicando em ser sexy com dancinhas bem "White People".
I saw "Natural Born Killers" on a very small advance screening back in 1994 and was blown away by the hypnotic, violent, surreal, edgy, fragmented and wild experience it is. Many years have passed since and it has been several years since I re-saw it and now I felt it was time to see this Bonnie and Clyde inspired road movie again. Oliver Stone´s film is one long case study in America's fascination with violence/pseudo-culture and there´s plenty pop cultural gold to wallow in. Critics over the years have panned this film as a 'glorification of meaningless violence', but the film turns the paranoia of a nation into satire and then deconstruct it into a live and direct sopa opera that engages the viewer to the max and almost puts you in the hysteric violence. The sensationalism of the media during the 90s hasn´t changed that much and it saturates most of Western civilization today, where it's more important to see celebrities doing what ever it might be instead of focusing on real issues that exist in our world. "Natural Born Killers" is shot and edited in a frenzied and psychedelic style consisting of black and white, animation, and other unusual color schemes, and employing a wide range of camera angles, filters, film stocks, lenses, and special effects. Much of the film is told via parodies of television shows and commercials which were commonly on the air at the time of the film's release make brief, intermittent appearances. This was truly intense and innovative (The editing of the film took 11 months) in 1994, but does that hold up in 2016? Not really to be completely honest. When watching it today, the idea is there but most of the film feels technically insufficient and the amateurish way the film is handled at times by Stone drags it down (despite the fact that it has been most likely done deliberately). And I don´t patricularly like Harrelson nor Lewis in the main roles as they never manages to make you believe in their existence. I´m not as impressed by "Natural Born Killers" today as I was in 1994. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four and wrote, "Seeing this movie once is not enough. The first time is for the visceral experience, the second time is for the meaning." Other critics found the film unsuccessful in its aims. Hal Hinson of The Washington Post claimed that "Stone's sensibility is white-hot and personal. As much as he'd like us to believe that his camera is turned outward on the culture, it's vividly clear that he can't resist turning it inward on himself. This wouldn't be so troublesome if Stone didn't confuse the public and the private." Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "for all its surface passions, Natural Born Killers never digs deep enough to touch the madness of such events, or even to send them up in any surprising way. Mr. Stone's vision is impassioned, alarming, visually inventive, characteristically overpowering. But it's no match for the awful truth." James Berardinelli gave the film a negative review but his criticism was different from many other such pans, which generally said that Oliver Stone was a hypocrite for making an ultra-violent film in the guise of a critique of American attitudes. Berardinelli noted that the movie "hits the bullseye" as a satire of America's lust for bloodshed, but repeated Stone's main point so often and so loudly that it became unbearable. Trivia: Oliver Stone has always maintained that the film is a satire on how serial killers are adored by the media for their horrific actions, and that those who claim the violence in the movie itself is a cause of societal violence have missed the point of the movie entirely. When producers Jane Hamsher and Don Murphy first brought Quentin Tarantino's screenplay to Oliver Stone's attention, Stone's initial idea was to make a lighthearted all-action blockbuster. His previous film, "Heaven & Earth" (1993), had been a difficult shoot which had failed at the box office, and he saw 'Natural Born Killers' as a way to make a fun movie and play with genre conventions. As he puts it himself in Chaos Rising: The Storm Around 'Natural Born Killers' (2001), he planned to make "something Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of." As the project developed however, Stone found the movie getting deeper and deeper, and soon all hopes for a simple action spectacular were gone.