UMD Review: The Doors

Oliver Stone was perfect for The Doors. His directing style compliments the darker side of Jim Morrison's short life flawlessly, and creates an absorbing film biography. Val Kilmer's dead-on performance only helps matters.

There's little time spent setting up the band or the early years of their rise to success. Other band members are forgotten for long stretches of time, and they could have added to the story significantly. Famous moments (like the Ed Sullivan Show) are dropped just as soon as they're shown. The film might as well of been titled differently since it's not so much about the band as it is their lead vocalist.

Regardless of the name, Oliver Stone wastes no time moving the audience into the later years of Morrison's life. That's when the true drama started, and the point where the film is at its strongest. Kilmer grasps the role perfectly, slowly descending into madness from drugs and alcohol. Stone holds nothing back, and you'll be hard pressed to find another film that earns its R-rating so quickly without a single scene of violence.

That leads to obvious critiscm, mostly because it never focuses on any of the lead singers brighter moments. Member Ray Manzarek has long since rejected the film. Regardless of the inaccuracies or overly dramatic segments created just for the movie, it makes for wild entertainment and a way to, at the least, somewhat experience the band thanks to Kilmer's performance. (**** out of *****)

The UMD preserves the 2.35:1 ratio of the film, and even though it was shot in the early 90s, really looks like it's from the 1960s. There's a light haze over everything, and the film grain only adds to the illusion. That's preserved perfectly in this video transfer. Sadly, major flaws are apparent all the way through, including abnormally high compression. Backgrounds are littered with it, and the black levels never stay together, making the artifacts more prevalent than they might have been. (**)

Audio is obviously important here, and this is a great mix. The music that becomes the key to the film is loud, powerful, and perfect for the format. There are only minor moments of separation, and these are hard to discern from the rest of the audio. That doesn't detract from the outstanding clarity or crispness that's better than normal for UMDs. (****)

Extras are absent from this disc. There was plenty of material available from a two-disc DVD release, so there's little excuse not to include something from that. (No stars)

It's surprising to learn that both Kilmer's and Morrison's voice are in the film, and used interchangeably. That alone should earn Kilmer respect. While the film sat around for nearly 20 years (with Morrison still alive) before heading to production, even Tom Cruise was offered the role. It's tough to imagine anyone but Kilmer taking this role like he did.

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