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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Natural Born Killers  R-Rated Cut vs. Director Un-rated [Blu-ray]

 

(Oliver Stone, 1994)

 

 

 

Production:

Theatrical: New Regency Pictures

Video: Warner Home Video     

Director's Cut stats are in RED!

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:58:57.421 / 2:02:03.316

Disc Size: 36,406,128,204 bytes / 29,557,922,306 bytes

Feature Size: 33,515,759,616 bytes / 23,414,851,584 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27754 kbps / 20018 kbps

Chapters: 40 (both)

Case: Digi-Book case / Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 10th, 2008 / October 13th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1635 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1635 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1647 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1647 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles (both):

English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, none

 

Extras:

Commentary by Oliver Stone
Charlie Rose Interview (11:38 in SD)
Deleted Scenes/ Alternate Ending with intros by Stone (27:32 in SD)
Trailer (4:3 in SD)
48-page Color Booklet as Digi-book case

 

Introduction by Oliver Stone (3:43 in HD!)
Commentary by Oliver Stone
Natural Born Killers Evolution: How It Would All Go Down Now? (21:59 in HD!)
Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers (26:31 in SD)
Charlie Rose Interview (11:38 in SD)
Deleted Scenes / Alternate Ending with intros by Stone (27:32 in SD)
Trailer (4:3 in SD)
48-page liner notes booklet (inside case)

 

Bitrate:

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

Description: Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis star as Mickey Knox and Mallory Wilson, two young, attractive mass murderers in love in Oliver Stone's wild-eyed satire on the American fascination with criminals. After killing Mallory's loathsome parents, the pair perform a ritual "marriage" and take off on a "honeymoon" killing spree that wipes out 52 people. Bloodthirsty tabloid reporter Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) reports their every move to an adoring public while warden Dwight McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) is only too eager to welcome such celebrities to his prison.

 

 

The Film:

"Natural Born Killers" is not so much about the killers, however, as about the feeding frenzy they inspire. During the period of their rampage, they are the most famous people in America, and the media goes nuts. There are Mickey and Mallory fan clubs and T-shirts; tabloid TV is represented by a bloodthirsty journalist played by Robert Downey Jr., who is so thrilled by their fame he almost wants to embrace them. The people Mickey and Mallory touch in the law industry are elated to be handling the case; it gives them a brush with celebrity, and a tantalizing whiff of the brimstone that fascinates some cops.

Stone has never been a director known for understatement or subtlety. He'll do anything to get his effect, and that's one of the things I value about him. He understands that celebrity killers have achieved such a bizarre status in America that it's almost impossible to satirize the situation - to get beyond real life. But he goes for broke, in scenes of carnage like a prison riot, which is telecast live while the "host" gets caught up in the bloodlust.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

Firstly, I'll suggest that fellow reviewers who are claiming the transfer image quality is the same on the new Director's Cut Blu-ray as on the 2008 R-Rated Blu-ray - should practice some due-diligence. Both are dual-layered but the color sequences are dramatically different with the earlier release showing boosted reds that have disappeared for a more natural look in the DC. Strangely the original release has the superior bitrate and larger file size for both the disc and the feature. Despite this, I don't see any extravagant jump in detail.  While there may be other differences - as contrast may be superior on the 2008 transfer, I don't think it is especially important for this film which has such an abundance of shifting styles -, overlays, tints, a variety of camera sources and fast edit cuts - but I suspect that the DC remains more faithful to the original intent as flesh tones, and as another example see the sky outside the prison shot below, are unnaturally reddish in the R-Rated cut. Many scenes have intentional grain and overall it makes it hard to critique the image quality as its diverse nature is certainly an intentional effect but the red cast seems like a digital manipulation.

 

NOTE: The unrated DC is 3:06 longer with, what Stone has stated as, 155 additional sequences or lengthening of previous ones. I believe these are mostly focused on more graphic violence that didn't pass the MPAA at the time. These 'cuts' are restored on the new Blu-ray.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (R-Cut) - Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner (Director's-Cut) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

The True HD 5.1 at 1647 kbps has unnoticeable differences in the two editions. To my ear it sound exactly the same. Dialogue is intentionally scattered, at times, and effect noises again give difficulty in making definitive statements about the quality. The original Blu-ray does offer a 5.1 track and 7 foreign language DUBs to the DC's one (Spanish). Both have extensive subtitle options defining it is the 'International release' supporting my Momitsu identifying it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

 

Extras :

There are some additions on the DC although both have the same Stone commentary - first found on the mid 90's laserdisc. On the DC we do get a new Introduction by Oliver Stone running just shy of 4-minutes in HD and 2 featurettes: Natural Born Killers Evolution: How It Would All Go Down Now? for over 20-minutes in HD and the interesting Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers for 26-minutes in SD. The six deleted scenes for over 20 minutes and one alternate ending, at less than 5-minutes, do not have the advertised optional commentary - or at least my system was unable to access it - despite it being in the menu. The original Blu-ray release was a Digi-book with beautiful color photos, director's notes and much more. This has been completely reproduced in the DC Blu-ray package as a liner notes booklet inside the standard Blu-ray case.

 

BOTTOM LINE:
It's quite revealing to see the differences in the Blu-ray editions and I honestly admit this is not a film that I enjoyed on my first two viewings many years ago. It is, intentionally, appalling - certainly not a pleasant experience but it now seems a valid one - once one becomes more blasť to the disturbing imagery. Taken from a Quentin Tarantino story - Natural Born Killers has his edgy content and caustic thematic look at social culture. From this standpoint it is often considered a masterpiece and for both Stone's preferred version and the image - the new Blu-ray is the way to watch it.   

Gary Tooze

October 17th, 2009

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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