The Doors: The Final Cut (4K Combo Pack)
Val Kilmer delivers an iconic performance in Oliver Stone's The Doors, on 4K UHD for the first time! Here's our review!
The review covers the 4K/Blu-ray/Digital Combo Pack.
The life of Jim Morrison during his time with the iconic band The Doors is chronicled. Stars Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan, and Kathleen Quinlan. Directed by Oliver Stone.
The Doors is a spellbinding tale that recounts the final years of the life of Jim Morrison at an almost mythical level. The musical biography is a riveting viewing experience, even if it romanticizes its subject a bit too much.
Director and co-writer Oliver Stone was perhaps the best choice to make the film, as he perfectly captures the look and feel of the late 1960s. The Doors is highly stylized, but Stone (a professed Morrison fan) also takes some creative liberties in telling the story. His reverence for the artist is evident throughout his film, as he elevates him to god-like status in a movie that kinda-sorta tells the true story of his career.
Stone has always been a director capable of giving his films a defining vision, and he infuses The Doors with an excellent re-creation of the counter-culture vibe of the 60s. However, his factual liberties with the story led to at least one member of The Doors to disassociate himself from the film. A documentary was later released to give a more “accurate” representation of Morrison and the band. So long as you don’t take the film too literally, you’ll better appreciate what Stone was trying to accomplish here.
While The Doors is certainly a riveting and entertaining film, Stone’s focus on the decadence of Morrison’s life actually coats the film in a layer of sadness. You know what’s coming for Jim in a short time, and it’s frustrating to see his decline, even though Kilmer’s performance is transformative. Kilmer himself was denied a well-deserved Oscar nomination.
With Kilmer’s hypnotic performance, Stone often glosses over the negative effect his behavior brought on himself and those around him. There are a few scenes of conflict, but the decline in his performance (and the effect on The Doors) is downplayed. Stone says in his commentary that the focus on Morrison’s faults - with no apologies - is intentional. That doesn’t make it any easier to watch, and it makes the abrupt end much more jarring. Which, I suppose, is the entire point.
It should be noted that the 4K disc is labeled “The Final Cut,” and includes a new “director’s cut” of the film. Unlike other director’s cuts, however, the “Final Cut” adds no new footage, but instead removes a scene near the end of the film. A three-minute scene showing Morrison on a building ledge has been removed, which Stone said he did to give the ending better pacing and emotional impact.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
For its 4K release, The Doors underwent a new transfer from the original negative, with Oliver Stone overseeing the restoration and color timing.
According to a press release from Lionsgate, “Remastered from the original negative that was scanned in 4K 16-bit on ARRISCAN at FotoKem US, the restoration was managed by L’Immagine Ritrovata in Italy with the close support of Oliver Stone who oversaw the color grading. The 4K release was re-mastered using Dolby Vision® HDR and Dolby Atmos® technologies for an unprecedented immersive experience.”
It should be noted that, despite the remastering and the outstanding color presentation, the 4K transfer of the film offers an image that seems particularly soft. Detail is not nearly as good as you would expect for a film released in 1991. The cinematography is partly the reason, as the film’s stylized look emphasizes color over sharpness. I suppose I cannot fault the transfer if the cinematographer’s original intent was a softer, surreal look.
If you listen to Oliver Stone’s commentary for the film (recorded before the remaster), he seems to place an emphasis on the use of color and lighting to set the mood for each scene. The 4k transfer’s HDR highlights this emphasis, as colors are often beautifully rendered, and then purposely manipulated, especially in the film’s many darkened concert scenes. It’s a marked improvement over the previous Blu-ray release, where colors (especially reds) seemed crudely mashed together and blacks were washed out.
At times, faces take on an almost unnatural reddish hue, but that appears to be the intent. The garish colors of the 60’s pop in nearly every scene, even those with heavy shadow. Several scenes attempt to replicate acid trips, so the trippy colors often deviate from the norm.
There is a fairly consistent amount of grain throughout, which I personally have no problem with, but for some people raised on modern high definition video, they will find reason to complain. The grain actually gives the film the perfect sheen to give it a vintage look and a newsreel feel.
For a handful of shots, Stone takes that idea to the extreme, purposely shooting on 16mm film, a technique he would use again in JFK. With that approach, it seems capturing every little detail was not the intent with Stone.
The 4K disc offers a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which adds greater depth and surround effect. It’s fantastic, and if you have a proper audio system setup, you’ll hear the difference, especially in concert scenes.
I highly recommend watching the bonus feature of an interview with Lon Bender, who supervised the new Atmos mix. He gets somewhat technical in explaining his philosophy and approach to the new mix, without undermining the original work. He’ll also explain how he created new “planes” of sound, based on the Dolby Atmos speaker placement standards.
The 4K UHD Combo Pack offers two new bonus features: interviews with Oliver Stone and sound mixer Lon Bender. Both interviews were conducted specifically for this 4K release, as both discuss the new transfer and sound mix.
However, additional special features are ported over from the previous Blu-ray release, and none of them are included on the 4K disc itself. You’ll have to pop in the included Blu-ray to see them. Only the interviews and an audio commentary by Stone (recorded for the previous Blu-ray release) are included on the 4K disc.
The special features included in the combo pack are:
“New Interview with Oliver Stone” featurette. 4K disc only. In a very candid interview, conducted just for the 4K release, Stone details his experiences in making the film, which was released in 1991. He is surprisingly open about some of the issues he endured during the shoot, including a falling out with Kilmer for a time. He also discusses how some of the real-life figures depicted in the film objected to his decisions, including members of The Doors themselves.
Stone provides plenty of anecdotes from the film set, and even discusses some of the actors and actresses he tested and ultimately rejected for the lead roles. It’s rare to see a director so open about his work, and it’s fascinating to hear someone of Stone’s caliber reveal so much. This is a fantastic interview and a must-watch after you’ve seen the film a few times. Running Time: 31:09.
“New Interview with Lon Bender, Mixer for the New Dolby Atmos mix” featurette. 4K disc only. This fascinating interview, sound mixer Lon Bender discusses how he took a pre-existing mix and added to it using Atmos standards. Running Time: 17:38
“The Doors in L.A.” featurette. Blu-ray only. Members of The Doors, authors, and Oliver Stone chronicle the early days of The Doors. There are some nice first-hand recollections from several interviewees. Running Time: 19:37.
“Jim Morrison: A Poet in Paris” featurette. Blu-ray only. This French documentary (with subtitles) focuses on Morrison’s time in France, leading up to his death. A French friend of Morrison and a historian are among those interviewed. There are stories from people who encountered him, and they are fascinating. Video quality is standard definition. Running Time: 52:08.
“The Road of Excess” featurette. Blu-ray only. Oliver Stone, Val Kilmer and members of The Doors discuss how the movie - which many said could never be made - was finally put to film. The 1997 featurette is presented in standard definition. Running Time: 38:42.
Original Featurette. Blu-ray only. This short, used to promote the film’s opening, includes interviews with Val Kilmer and Oliver Stone. Presented in standard definition. Running Time: 6:19.
Deleted Scenes. Blu-ray only. 14 deleted scenes and an introduction are included. The scenes included are: “Sc.11 Turkey Joint West,” “Sc.29 Sunset Strip,” “Sc.12 Airplane,” “Sc.52 Press Conference,” “Sc.65 New Haven Stage,” “Sc.68 Holding Room - Police Station,” “Sc.71 Recording Studio,” “Sc.76 Pacific Palisades,” “Sc.92 Alta Cienega Motel,” “Sc.96 Recording Studio,” “Sc.101 Interior Airplane,” “Sc.107 Miami Courtroom,” “Sc.121 Ray’s House,” and Sc.126 Pere Lachaise Cemetary.” Presented in standard definition. Total Running Time: 43:49
Trailers and TV Spots. The original theatrical trailer (Running Time: 1:17) and five original TV spots (Running Time: 2:58) are included.
Audio Commentary. Oliver Stone is the sole participant in the commentary, and while he sometimes delves into the mundane details of filmmaking, he spends most of the movie discussing Jim and his influence on music. He is very candid at times, and explores and questions his own decisions. It should be noted that the commentary is from a previous home video release, and does not address the “Final Cut.” It is only included on the theatrical version of the film.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, compatible with services including VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. Lionsgate codes are not compatible with Movies Anywhere. Lionsgate 4K codes do not always redeem digital movies in 4K initially. At the time of publication of this review, the digital code was only redeeming the movie in HD. Confirm with your digital service that a 4K code is available before redeeming it.
4K DISC SPECS
Release Date: July 23, 2019
Running Time: 141 minutes (Theatrical Cut), 138 minutes (Final Cut)
Rating: R (Heavy Drug Use, Strong Sexuality, Language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos (4K Disc Only), English 7.1 DTS-HDMA (Blu-ray Only), French 2.0 Dolby Digital (Blu-ray Only)
Subtitles: English for the Dead and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: “New Interview with Oliver Stone” featurette, “New Interview with Lon Bender, Mixer for the New Dolby Atmos mix” featurette, “The Doors in L.A.” featurette, “Jim Morrison: A Poet in Paris” featurette, “The Road of Excess” featurette, Original featurette, 14 Deleted Scenes, Trailers and TV Spots, Digital Copy.
Audio Commentary: With director Oliver Stone