Basic Instinct Blu-ray Review

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Review

Basic Instinct Blu-ray Review
SRP: £18.59

Picture

Basic Instinct comes to Blu-ray with a decent High Definition 1080p video presentation in the movie's original theatrical widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Detail is still not perfect, but certainly better than on the previous DVD incarnations of this thriller. There is much less softness than previously encountered - one of the worst aspects of the DVD releases - and the any picture damage is also kept to a minimum, with grain also never too intrusive. The colour scheme is quite broad, with plenty of nice San Francisco settings, but it does occasionally lapse into bland, with the colours seldom looking quite as vivid as they should. Still, the sequences draped in tones, most frequently blue, do not suffer as much (just like monochrome images, which take longer to fade) and the film is sure to have something of a dated feel given that it is, after all, fifteen years old. Blacks are reasonably solid and make for some decent shadowing, again an improvement over previous incarnations, and overall this is a solid if unexceptional presentation on Blu-ray, and clearly the best video we are ever likely to see for this 1992 thriller.

Basic Instinct

Sound

The audio presentation for Basic Instinct is also a clear improvement over its previous DVD incarnations, with two solid audio offerings: a DTS HD track and a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX mix. The former is easily the superior of the two, presenting the dialogue clearly and coherently across the frontal array and keenly showcasing the numerous effects across the surrounds. From slashing and stabbing sounds to car crashes, the effects get decent presentation, with the sex vocals coming across particularly dominantly. The reasonably memorable score also gets given a great deal of room to breathe, lighting up the surrounds particularly during the more thrilling sequences. Bass isn't all that dominating - although the nightclub scene does spring to mind - but the audio presentation is still quite potent and clearly the best aural rendition of this movie.

Basic Instinct

Extras

All of the extras here you would have previously found on the special 'ice pick' edition of this movie on DVD. Still, it's nice to have them ported over the Blu-ray. First up we have an Audio Commentary by the Director Paul Verhoeven and the Director of Photography Jan De Bont (of Speed fame). Verhoeven is a rather unique animal and is pretty hilarious to listen to on commentaries. His vivid, typically European, description of the nudity and sex acts is so utterly unintentionally funny that you will be compelled to skip to all the good bits, just to hear what he has to say. It is almost like he sees these sex scenes in a totally different way to everybody else, and his description is almost like an art expert observing somebody else's masterpiece - and it seems totally out of place here. Jan De Bont is a little more normal, but that's almost a disappointment as it's Verhoeven's eccentricity that makes this such a interesting listen.

The second Audio Commentary is by the Feminist Critic and Author Camille Paglia and is a rather odd affair. She reads a great deal into the movie than you should really give Verhoeven credit for. Given the strange, almost dirty old man perspective that he exhibits in his own unique way for the first commentary, I doubt very much he meant this movie to ever be read into like you would Shakespeare. I don't even think Shakespeare expected his work to be dissected either, but that's another story, with Basic Instinct, this pretentious ultra-feminist gets on her high horse and starts ranting about what she feels the movie is about, and what symbolism she reads into it. It's a shame she couldn't just sit back and enjoy it as more than just the feminist empowerment of Sharon Stone. Worth listening to if you want to get annoyed.

Blonde Poison is a Making-Of Documentary on the Making of the Film, notably dated in its stance on the controversy surrounding the production. With themes of debatably consensual sex, homophobia and obviously the sheer explicitness of the material all giving the press a field day, it makes little sense to still seem outraged by it all today. Fifteen years have passed and it just doesn't pack the same punch. It is also notable for its complete lack of contributions from many of the key players (except for a couple of archive interviews), with the director and his crew having to do the majority of the work themselves.

Cleaning Up Basic Instinct is a simple split-screen Montage Featurette which compares the 'clean' TV version to the Theatrical version, only really highlighting how movies get totally destroyed when stripped for TV viewing. We also get separate Storyboard Comparisons for some of the key sex scenes, again offered up in a split-screen format. Finally there is the original Theatrical Trailer and some of the original Screen Tests, including interesting contributions from Jeanne Tripplehorn and Sharon Stone.

Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct is an important piece of cinematic history. A decade and a half after its release, it does not have the same controversy surrounding it, but thankfully still remains an engaging and enjoyable sex-thriller in its own right. The video and audio specifications on this Blu-ray High Definition format offer up the best visual and aural presentation of the movie that we have (or will likely ever have). We get all the extras (including two engaging commentaries) that you would have come across before and overall this is the definitive release for fans to invest in. If there really is anybody out there who still has not seen this enjoyable affair, they should pick it up now.

Scores

Movie

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Extras

.
.
.
7

Overall

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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