By Doug Cummings
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Director Oliver Stone's (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, J.F.K.) new media blitz inspiring, Natural Born Killers, poses as a tough and audacious movie that denounces the media's lurid coverage of horrific events, but in the end, it only exemplifies the issue it claims to criticize.
Flashing onto the screen in virtually every visual format known to man (including 8, 16, and 35mm film, animation, color and black & white cinematography, video, "morphing" and computer graphics), the movie is a two-hour-long music video. Individual shots are repeated and actions are reprised from various angles in the staccato rhythmic pattern of MTV. Presumably, Stone is satirizing hip video montages, but it's good for him that he chooses such a trendy visual style to target because millions of video fans will think the movie's really chic.
The story concerns itself with two lovers, albeit serial killers, played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as lighthearted purveyors of senseless violence and mayhem. Except for a brief respite two-thirds of the way into the movie, the entire plot consists of the lovers killing, maiming, and trying to make love (though not necessarily in that order).
The original story was written by Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs and the upcoming Pulp Fiction), who tried to remove his name from the film after Oliver Stone entirely re-wrote the screenplay. The changes Stone implemented are unclear, but his current screenplay is so redundant and excessive it makes every action following the first scene predictable and repetitive. How shocking is it when someone who has already killed scores of people kills someone else? Perhaps the nature of serial crime makes it difficult to create suspense, but Stone's insistence on making his characters completely divorced of any indecision or moral inclination doesn't help.
The movie's humor is frighteningly cruel. Virtually every victim is represented as being woefully inept or comically exaggerated, making funny faces and throwing tantrums as they die. Confusingly, special care is taken so that most of the victims seem to deserve their agony.
Oliver Stone loves to play the role of the "controversial" movie director on talk shows and in interviews, so every couple of years he makes a movie based on a social problem that he apparently has no suggestions on how to solve. He garnishes the movie with popular imagery and a generous heaping of violence and profanity in order to work the media into a frenzy. He then creates an overabundance of the very thing he is supposedly criticizing in order to "provoke" the audience. At best, he hopes they will come up with a solution, but his topical leapfrogging suggests he's only interested in making a media splash. If he was a more sophisticated filmmaker, Natural Born Killers could be seen as a self-parody and public confession. As it is, it's only a product of sensationalistic media.
Natural Born Killers is at Century Park 12, 620-0750 Read Next Article