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Natural Born Killers poster

Oliver Stone's controversial 1994 film that satirizes violence in American culture.

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Natural Born Killers - Sleeper's Re-write W/O

  • Apr 9, 2003
  • by
Pros: making of and quality of filming is good

Cons: ...........

The Bottom Line: Even though I don't care for the story, the making of the film and the quality rank 3 stars

SLEEPER54 tossed a line out and hooked me. His premise was to take an old review and re-write it according to the way you would write now. I decided to take the one review that has generated more hate mail and insensitive comments for me than anything else.

Before getting into this review I must first express that this [Epinions] is only a website. It does not govern how I live the balance of my life. Things that transpire on this website do not affect whether I will rise on the left or the right side of my bed. They do not determine what I will eat or drink.

If someone takes issue with anything I write, I simply have to let it go by the wayside because, frankly, there really are more important things in life, more important things in the world. I cannot, and do not, take anything seriously that happens here because it IS ONLY A WEBSITE. Life with or without Epinions will continue to evolve. Life with or without acceptance of any of my reviews will continue to evolve.

How someone rates anything I write follows the same vein of the writing - their rating reflects ‘their’ opinion. My writing reflects ‘my’ opinion. Everyone has opinions, they don’t always jell but everyone is entitled to theirs much like I am entitled to mine.

I have included the original review at the bottom, including the original comments and answers. The original review has been deleted to meet the guidelines of dual posting of a review and to follow the write-off theme.

Thanks, Susi

April 9, 2003 - Natural Born Killers

First I will say that since I had previously viewed this movie I decided to watch it this time with Oliver Stone’s commentary on. This gave a completely different light to the movie, as did the Charlie Rich interview, the ‘Chaos Unchained’ documentary, and the alternate ending - all offered on the DVD.

The movie is rich in the mode of film making. Through Stone’s commentary you learn how each scene was conducted and filmed, using almost every type of filming media & camera available. The discussion of repetitive colors throughout lent a different idea to the film as did the insertion of toned down black & white scenes interspersed with color shots.

Animation was a key factor in the filming to bring attention to mood changes and character interaction. As well, shape-shifting of facial features, bleeding animal faces over human faces, and distortion of facial movement reflected the mood of the piece.

Music also plays an important part of this film, many pieces were written directly for the piece. Trent Reznor was one of the major contributors and Stone seemed highly entranced with his work. Additionally, older music from the 40's-70's eras were introduced to reflect the time period being shot at the time. In the same light, particular detail was shown for period pieces like televisions, radios, lighting, wallpaper & clothing.

Perhaps this was intended to be satirical in nature. Several people have made mention of this including Harrelson, Stone & Sizemore. Even with this second viewing and the follow-up interviews on the DVD, I still do not see the satirical nature of the piece.

Other than the fact that the made-up sitcom “I Love Mallory” with Dangerfield & McClurg as Mallory’s parents, reflected an older value of television work, I didn’t consider that satire either. Frankly I don't find a skit that shows groping your daughter to be humorous, but that is just me.

Rather, I found more a demented love story involved here, as committed as these two characters could be to love. Their lives intertwined and be it fate or twisted genes, it seemed they were both devil and angel in their respective lives. Each character fed off the other, they were the Ying & Yang of the soul, one soul.

The movie remains a brutal one. Each killing scene is explicate and detailed and often over the top. The prison riot, filmed at a real prison with the prisoners as extras, seemed frighteningly realistic, yet completely unbelievable at the same time. Tommy Lee Jones as the warden portrayed a character that perhaps was closer to the truth than we realize.

Stone did devote a good deal of time investigating the backgrounds and trying to justify the reasoning behind the mayhem known as Mickey & Mallory. Early child abuse, sexual abuse, no parental nurturing, ostracized from the mainstream of society. That however is simply an excuse that they would use to justify their killing spree. If, for instance, Sybil took issue when her mother shoved hairbrushes up her bum when she was a baby would that justify her going on to commit child abuse herself?

Others have said the movie reflects the warped mentality of the media and their determination to ‘catch the big story’. Perhaps this is true also. Yet, we, the viewing public, are the ones that grovel and plead for more details, more vile footage. We are the ones that hesitate to view an auto accident, a home burning, a baby thrown in the dumpster, a mangled body tossed carelessly along a roadside, a floating body in the river.

We are the ones that have become desensitized by our demands for more information, more footage, more descriptions, more blood. We certainly can’t expect the media to take account for filling our demands, we ASK for the information, in fact demand it.

True, this film was intended for adults, not children. That still does not justify the violence portrayed in the movie. Do I think it would cause someone to take up arms and follow the lead of Mickey & Mallory and become their own Bonnie & Clyde? Certainly not, but it still gives an aura of acceptance to killing. To think that a movie could turn someone into a killer would be as senseless as saying a piece of music, an artist, a book, a video game, could be responsible as well.

I think hatred breeds hatred and with that acceptance. Once we have turned our eyes away from the devastation of killing we have begun to accept it as a way of life. At one point in the movie Mallory finally begins to see that what they are doing is wrong, yet she continues, often with much malice. As well, the previously calm and staid Downing, who defends himself by saying he is an innocent, becomes not only a killer but he glorifies in it, feeds off it, accepts it.

So, in each of us lies that sleeping demon waiting to awaken. A movie directed at adults will often reach that sleeping giant. It will also often find its way into the viewing field of those too young and too impressionable to understand the ‘satirical’ nature of the piece.

As far as production quality, writing ability, cinematography and musical talents, this was a very decent representation. Not one of Stone’s best but certainly up there. The acting by all was tight and in character. As a movie it was well done but I stand on my original value of the movie as a commentary of life ‘as we know it’. It deflates the moral value of the American family and society.


see sleeper54 for the list of other participants in this new and twisted write-off.

ORIGINAL REVIEW, submitted 6-13-00

What a stupid, insensitive assault on humanity, a waste of two hours of my life and untold hours by the cast and crew making this worthless tripe. Stone, always one to shock our visual landscape, has stepped beyond shock and merged right into tasteless.

Realizing this is only a movie does nothing to lessen the impact on society. At least with Born on the 4th of July, JFK, Platoon, etc., there was a hint of a message, an ideal, thoughts to be explored. With Natural Born Killers there is absolutely no value to the film at all. I'd rather sit through Titanic again than watch this movie, that is just how bad it is.

Don't get me wrong, the movie itself is Stone's usual shock-jock, slamming visuals and sounds, flashbacks, intense lighting and weird projections. He does have that way of involving you in a film. The story line, however, is tasteless, pointless, disgusting and violent.

I'm not a gun advocate anyway so I must admit I am somewhat biased in this view but I have never understood why we continue to glorify these hedonistic acts. Perhaps it is movies like this that have people backing the likes of a Bundy, Dahmer, Manson, Gacy or Berkowitz. Advocating their rights as citizens when it is apparent they have no redeeming qualities and nothing to offer humankind. Yeah, I know, some of them are already dead, but tell me, which one would you like living next door to you and your family?

The fact that it has several major stars does nothing to pull this film out of the quagmire. Harrelson and Lewis, with their demented Bonnie and Clydeish portrayal, offer nothing but sensationalism. Harrelson seems to have finally lost that country bumpkin type casting from Cheers as he grimly takes aim and kills for no apparent reason.

Lewis, as usual, drops into her role of the virgin while bombarding you with disturbing visuals. I don't quite know what it is about her but she never seems to age, just act older. She retains that look of braces and bobbysocks with a perverted twisted mind.

Robert Downey, Jr., as the reporter, adds more poor taste to an already senseless movie by projecting the idea that we, as Americans, are only interested in the blood and guts of a story and not the reason behind it. Are we so brain dead that we accept this as a way of life?

I remember when my youngest son and his friends saw this movie and they thought it was unbelievably cool. Is this the value system we want our children to accept - kill them all and let God sort ‘em out. Have we bastardized our morals so much that we offer these killers up as heroes while we shun the likes of Kennedy, King and even Nixon because we didn't agree with their life choices or political beliefs.

I realize I must tell you something about this movie. It opens with Harrelson and Lewis killing everybody in a diner, they move on to kill policemen, rednecks, rude drivers, waitresses, and generally anyone else stupid enough to be in their line of vision, always leaving one person behind to tout their glory. They become cause celebe loved by the young and fellow brain dead people, flaunted on TV and the media. After being captured, they go to jail, break out and kill more people on the way. Basically when they aren't killing people they are killing people - HUH - good story isn't it?

When will we stop our love affair with guns and destruction of life and realize all we are showing our young people are the glorified results of these actions? Sure, it is a movie, but when 16 year old children see these people wantonly destroy lives for a laugh, what are we offering them as personal values?

This movie was an insult to the American public and Stone and cast should be ashamed for releasing it.

Original Comments

Re: For heaven's sake! (Reply to this comment)
by susidee34
It's called My Opinion, and I'm entitled to it. I find nothing humorous about murder, in satire or real.

Sorry Mar 03 '03 3:57 am PST

For heaven's sake! (Reply to this comment)
by elwhiskey
it's a satire! it should be seen with sense of humor!
Mar 02 '03 3:32 pm PST

Re: What+a+terrible+"review" (Reply to this comment)
by susidee34
And the real message of the movie would be......?

I watch a lot of movies that deal with things that offend me, I am interested in learning about things and how they affect people and their surroundings. Doesn't mean I condone them.

I do, however, condone the right for you to share your opinion. Thanks. Aug 13 '02 8:17 pm PST

What a terrible "review" (Reply to this comment)
by PSXN64007
It looks like in lieu of actually reviewing NBK the movie, you completely threw all merits of the movie out the window based on the fact that it offended you. Seriously, if you are so offended by killing, why would you watch a movie called "Natural Born Killers"? You also somehow managed to completely miss the real message of the movie, so why even bother writing a review? Aug 13 '02 4:39 pm PST

Re: It's+called+"Satire"... (Reply to this comment)
by susidee34
TO LunaStarla - 1st, 'what we show our children' .... no matter their age, they are still our children. The ones I referred to were 18-19 years old and out of the home. Yes, through our acceptance of death and murder we show them that it is not 'all that bad' as long as the bad guy gets caught. Tell that to the victims families.

Second, 'the movie was on my side' ..... yes, it was. As we all ask these things to be shown. We devour the horrible news each night on TV and in print. We all but ignore the good news which gets pushed to the back page. Yep, it was on my side.

Thanks, I still believe you have every right to express your opinion, that is what America stands for.

TO: hagacheezy - thanks Jul 06 '01 11:15 am PST

Re: It's+called+"Satire"... (Reply to this comment)
by hagacheezy
I don't always agree with 'Susidee' but I thought this review was right on the mark. I didn't think 'Natural Born Killers' was any satire at all, I thought it was a tragic and horrible exercise in making money by Oliver Stone and his cronies. They knew what would sell, so they made the most moronic, offensive movie they possibly could, with no thought for how it might affect people.

I'm hoping that people are smart enough not to let their kids be warped by this trash movie, I thought it's message was pure evil. You want to call it a satire, fine. Was it actually an entertaining or enlightening satire? Hell no. It was stupid from beginning to end, any way you look at it this film was an awful waste of time. Jul 06 '01 9:20 am PST

It's called "Satire"... (Reply to this comment)
by LunaStarla
First, yes we all have our own opinions. So here's what I have to say...

I fear that you completely missed the point of the movie. The movie was not meant to say that glorifying violence is good. The movie was insulting our culture for glorifying violence. The film was on your side!!

Second, using the "what are we showing our children" argument is just sad. Don't let them watch this movie! Goodness I'd never let my children watch this! Not until they were old enough for me to sit down and explain the satire. If this were targeted at children, I'd have a problem. But it's not. It's an adult movie.

You review was well written, but as for your perceptions of the film, keep in mind that things are not always what they seem. Jul 03 '01 l0:38 am PST

Re: RMM's+comment+on+this+opinion... (Reply to this comment)
by susidee34
I ask noone to do a thing, I simply express how I feel. Perhaps crime rates have dropped for years. Does that mean that it is now 'good' that only one person a day gets raped, beaten, robbed, murdered, instead of two? That only one child is molested instead of two? But that has nothing to do with this movie.

Those brain dead punks you refer to belong to someone. They were someone's son or daughter at one time and someone had influence on their lives. Perhaps it was a brain dead parent that enjoyed the satricial language of murder.

As far as the kids that watched the movie and thought it was 'cool', no they did not go out and kill anyone. However, one of them did kill themselves. Which in effect, through his passing, killed all those that touched his life.

Your comments are appreciated, thank you. Jun 11 '01 3:32 PST

RMM's comment on this opinion... (Reply to this comment)
by redmethodman
I'm a bit confused as to what you would actually have us do about the problems you present in your review, or as to whether they even really exist, since crime rates have been consistently dropping for years. Are you suggesting that Stone should not be allowed to make the kind of movie he wants because some brain dead punk might use it as an excuse to kill something (which he would probably do anyways if he's that easily influenced)?

By the way, those kids that thought the movie was "unbelievably cool"..They haven't killed anybody since seeing it, have they? Jun 11 '01 1:32 pm PST

Re: Re:+Re:+A+Gut+Reaction. (Delete your comment)
by susidee34
Take it you didn't like the review.

Sorry, we are all entitled to our own opinions. Thanks for yours.

Susi Apr 18 '01 5:56 pm PST

Re: Re: A Gut Reaction. (Reply to this comment)
by Mad-Sci
Deciding what effects this movie will have on children is irrelevant. This movie was not made for children or for the criminally insane. The movie's sole purpose was to expose the media for what it really is. Stone was also looking to get a rise from loudmouths like yourself, further increasing the movies popularity. This movie is about rebellion and about the effects of the media. Your review does nothing but raise awareness of the violence of this movie, which does nothing but promote the movie among its cult followers.

Those who actually take this movie at face value are seeing only a minuscule fraction of a percent of what this movie is truly about.

Attacking Stone's artistic ability is only showing how narrow-minded and ignorant you truly are. There is far more message in 5 minutes of this movie then there is in your simple and naive review.

Please stop embarrassing yourself, and remove your review. You are accomplishing the exact opposite effect that you want by exposing this movie as a blood bath. If you really want to stop some of the psychos out there from seeing it, then talk about the messages of anti-media in it and stop whining about Oliver Stone.

Thank you.
-Dereck G. Apr 16 '01 9:28 am PST

Great review (Reply to this comment)
by nellswell
I loathed this movie! Jun 15 '00 6:16 pm PST

Re: A Gut Reaction. (Delete your comment)
by susidee34
I'll accept your thoughts as they are probably true. But then again, we are adults for the most part ... my beef is the fact that young people see this movie through different eyes than ours. And we are showing them just how cool and rewarding to our personal feelings it is to kill people (I am referring to the actors in the film, not our personal selves)

Did you really think this was a 'comic' reaction to guns?Jun 13 '00 4:37 pm PST

A Gut Reaction. (Reply to this comment)
by macresarf1
Dear susidee34: I respect your revulsion at this movie, but it has robbed you of judgement. I don't think you understood the movie was a black, comic attack of the gun and celebrity culture which is brutalizing and trivializing everything in our society. In my view, you are attacking the message and the messenger because you don't like the subject.

However, I always like to read your reviews and often find them highly commendable.

[Macresarf1] Jun 13 '00 4:33 pm PST

Rosie O'Donnell would say... (Reply to this comment)
by poseidon
Silly lady! Movies don't kill people, guns kill people!

I agree 100% with your paragraph. The Hollywood elite should take into account that our children are so desensitized to brutal killing they are doing it themselves!

Great job!

The original review had (1) OT; (3) NH; (2) SH; (2) H & (26) VH.


Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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