The Doors (1991)

This film chronicles the legendary rock band The Doors. It shows the rise and fall of their front man Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer).

Director: Oliver Stone

Cast: Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kevin Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley, Kathleen Quinlan, Billy Idol

MPAA Rating: R for heavy drug content, and for strong sexuality and language

Fun Fact: The Cult front man Ian Astbury was offered the role of Jim Morrison. Astbury who views Morrison as a hero turned it down claiming that the movie was portraying Morrison in a negative light.

You might be wondering why I filed this film under musical instead of drama. Well I have a certain criteria for musicals and that it’s about a band, features musical scenes, and music is the main feature. With that being said let’s get on with the review.

The Doors is directed by Oliver Stone, who is known for his politically charged movies. It’s interesting to see him doing more of a biopic that involves music. The Doors were around at a time where there were a huge counterculture movement was going on and people were taking chances to change society. Stone captures this perfectly. I felt like I was right in the middle of the 1960’s when all of this was going on. The film’s visuals are simply fantastic, and I can’t get enough of them. The color choices, the costumes and the sets all look authentic and from the 1960’s. It looks like the decision was made to shoot the film in a widescreen format and I thought it was interesting that was the route they took. There is a lot going on especially during the concert scenes and you get to see quite a bit from the widescreen shots. One technical aspect that I found use on the cinematography was how the camera would whip around so to speak. I know it was showing when Jim Morrison was on something, but some of it felt nauseating.

I will say it now that The Doors are one of my favorite bands. I can’t get enough of their music and after I finished watching this movie I turned on to the music as I typed this review. The best scenes are when the music is happening. It truly felt like four masters of their craft creating these songs. Like stated before the concert scenes are vast and your right in the middle of the action. The movie has a great soundtrack to it, and they put the right music at the right time for certain scenes. It fits the mood when needed.

While the film looks good and the music is awesome, there is one thing that brings the film to a higher level. Val Kilmer absolutely owns the role of Jim Morrison. He looks like him, sounds like him, and moves like him. It felt like the man was alive and performing again. Morrison was more than a singer. He was a poet and an artist that many didn’t understand at first, but now appreciate his work more. Meg Ryan also dials in a great performance as Morrison’s partner Pamela Courson. The film dives into their rollercoaster of a relationship well and it has its dark moments. Just like Sid & Nancy, the lead character goes down his own destructive path. Morrison was known for his alcoholism and drug use along with his mental state breaking down. We get many intense scenes of this and Kilmer does an excellent job of pulling it off with everyone that’s on screen with him.

Overall, if you’re a music lover or just a fan of The Doors in general, you’re going to enjoy this film. Just to warn you it’s intense and has many dark moments with the lead character. Val Kilmer does an amazing job in these scenes and the direction of Oliver Stone brings it all to life. While Kilmer’s performance is the bread and butter of the movie, there are plenty of other things to get excited about. The film has fantastic visuals and the colors bring it to life. The decision to shoot the film in widescreen format was an interesting one with some of the shots I didn’t agree with. Like any movie that features a band that you enjoy the music is awesome. This is one music biopic that isn’t really talked about and it’s a shame that it doesn’t get much talk especially with so many of them coming out as of late.

Verdict: Hit


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