Is everybody IN? Is EVERYBODY in? Because my review of The Doors: The Final Cut is about to begin!
Nearly 20 years after he died, Oliver Stone sought to make a film about the rapid rise and heavy fall of Jim Morrison, the formation of The Doors, his relationship with Pamela Courson (Meg Ryan) and everything leading up to the man’s death. Stone created a piece of work that is a triumph of both style and substance and brought out the performance of his life from its lead, Val Kilmer.
We see the moment when they were asked not to sing ‘higher’ on The Ed Sullivan Show and replace the word with ‘better’ – since ‘higher’ was perceived as a reference to drugs – and they chose to defy this. It wasn’t all factually accurate, though. After having his student film criticised by most of the class at UCLA, Jim Morrison didn’t quit, and they also didn’t smoke peyote in the desert later on.
One of the biggest tragedies, other than Morrison’s death, can be summed up in just one question – Just what happened to Val Kilmer’s career after his wonderful performance in this film? I know it’s an overused phrase, but he “owns” the stage here, so to speak. He could’ve made the big-time and was on his way up after appearing in Top Gun, but duff choices included The Real McCoy, Batman Forever and The Saint and despite a good turn in Michael Mann’s Heat in 1995, things just stalled from there for him.
The rest of the cast is wide and varied, but provide adequate support including Meg Ryan, plus Frank Whaley as guitarist Robby Krieger, Kevin Dillon as drummer John Densmore and, especially, Kyle MacLachlan as keyboardist Ray Manzarek.
I’ve always loved this film and I remember after seeing it in the cinema while I was at University, I phoned my Dad the next day and said “I went to see The Doors last night”, and in all innocence, he replied, “Oh, were they good?” :)
Finally, as an aside, Jim Morrison died in July 1971… I was born in April 1972… 9 months after conception… Hmm? Think about it…
(I’m just kidding… or am I?)
Although it’s out in 4K, I’m reviewing the regular Blu-ray here, and presented in 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, the picture is crystal (ship) clear and has no faults whatsoever. Colours are deep and bold and it’s as enjoyable to watch the film on this disc as it was in the cinema back in 1991 and evokes brilliantly the period of the late 1960s going into the early ’70s. It’s a visual feast with the camera swaying around a lot, getting across Morrison’s drink- and drug-addled state of mind.
The sound is in Dolby Atmos, and as well as split-surround effects used on frequent occasions along with the background music and ambience, pride of place certainly goes to the music of the band in question. And at one point, where Morrison has sex with editor-in-chief of Jazz and Pop magazine, Patricia Kennealy (Kathleen Quinlan) after drinking each other’s blood, all to the tune of Carmina Burana, it led to one couple in the audience walking out!
So, do you need this new version if you already have the 2011 release? Well, I felt the film was perfectly fine as it was before, and certainly didn’t need to be trimmed, and since that’s all that’s happening with this release, then only buy this for the new extras – That’s if you’re just buying the regular Blu-ray. I haven’t got a 4K TV, but if you have, then definitely get this, since as far as I know, it’s the first time The Doors has been released in 4K.
Both the regular Blu-ray and 4K contain the film in both theatrical and final cuts.
The Final Cut removes the scene at 2:02:51, where Jim Morrison climbs out onto the rooftop, completely drunk, with Pam climbing out after him. It’s daft they’ve removed this, since the potential of doing this is suggested in the bar scene not too long before.
Hence, after he says “I think I’m having a nervous breakdown” and the scream from “When The Music’s Over” happens over a black screen, it then fades up to him arriving at the birthday party where he sees himself as a child.
Given that he’s just announced he’s having a nervous breakdown and then leaps about, drunk, on a rooftop, I’d say it’s necessary. Still, it gives the studio another reason to sell us the same thing. This scene ends at 2:05:10 where it cross-fades into arriving at the party.
Similarly, Apocalypse Now is coming out again soon as a Final Cut. Back in 2011, the Redux Blu-ray was released in a great package, with the film in its extended form. I think almost all of the extra content was great, but the only thing I’d remove is the long and dull French plantation scene as it adds nothing to the film and just slows it down. For me, snipping that out would be the Final Cut, but I haven’t looked into what precisely has been snipped this time round.
The extras are as follows, with the first two interviews on disc 1, and I’m still working my way through them all so will update shortly:
- Oliver Stone Interview (31:09): Here, he talks about the script and the casting, including how he even considered Tom Cruise as Jim Morrison!! :O
- Lon Bender Interview (17:38): Lon is a sound editor and mixer, who was assigned the task of taking a cinema sound – where the speakers can be all over the room – and mixing them down into the Dolby Atmos format, which has less speakers overall. He talks in huge detail, but quite frankly, it’s a bit beyond me. For my money, when you’ve got the speakers set one louder, you have The Doors’ music blasting out and filling the room. And that’s all I need.
- Jim Morrison: An American Poet in Paris (52:09), a documentary looking at the last four months of his life. It attempts to tell “Who was Jim Morrison”? as well as trying to work out the cause of his mysterious death, given that there was no autopsy at the time, and features interviews with experts and people who knew him in France at the time. Hence, all the dialogue is in French and Optimum have no option but to actually give us English subtitles here(!)
- Director’s Commentary (Theatrical cut only)
- The Road to Excess
- The Doors in L.A.
- Vintage Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
How much music from The Doors is on the main menu? None. It’s silent. And there’s only 12 chapters which is ridiculous for such a long film. The 2011 release had 20, which still was too small.
Running time: 141 minutes / 138 minutes (Final Cut)
Released: July 22nd 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Atmos (English), DTS 5.1-HD MA (French and German)
Subtitles: English, French, German
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: 2*BD50
Director: Oliver Stone
Producers: Bill Graham, Sasha Harari and A. Kitman Ho
Screenplay: J. Randal Johnson and Oliver Stone
Jim Morrison: Val Kilmer
Pamela Courson: Meg Ryan
Ray Manzarek: Kyle MacLachlan
Robby Krieger: Frank Whaley
John Densmore: Kevin Dillon
Paul Rothchild: Michael Wincott
Tom Baker: Michael Madsen
Bill Siddons: Josh Evans
Patricia Kennealy: Kathleen Quinlan
Engineer – Last Session: John Densmore
Young Jim: Sean Stone
Nico: Christina Fulton
Ed Sullivan: Will Jordan
Andy Warhol: Crispin Glover
UCLA Film Professor: Oliver Stone (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.