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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Basic Instinct


Starring: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza and Jeanne Tripplehorn
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 15 September 2008

Nick Curren, a recovering alcoholic police detective, and his partner Gus are called to the murder of a wealthy rock star. The only suspect appears to be the crime writer Catherine Tramell, whose unusual lifestyle and apparent lack of morality draws Nick into a sexual relationship with her. However the closer he gets to Catherine the more dangerous his life becomes…

Basic Instinct (1992 - 2 hrs, 8 min) is a thriller/neo-noir film written by Joe Eszterhas (Sliver, Showgirls) and directed by the brilliant Paul Verhoeven (Black Book, Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Robocop) the film was nominated for two Oscars, won a further five awards and was nominated for a further sixteen.

The film stared Michael Douglas (Wall Street, Falling Down) and Sharon Stone (Casino, Total Recall) in what was to be a controversial film. Mostly this was due to the graphic and adult way that Verhoeven portrayed the various sex scenes which had more of an open European flavour to them. This shocked many of the American audiences, and yes it had the "was she or wasn’t she" wearing panties scene, which became a firm favourite of teenage boys with a pause button. Unfortunately the controversy drew attention away from the fact that Basic Instinct is one hell of a thriller which succeeds in keeping the identity of the killer secret to the last second.

This represents one of Douglas’s most powerful performances, I think he only bettered this level of intensity in Falling Down (1993) and this period saw the run of great films from Douglas slowly coming to a close. Curren is seriously messed up; he sleeps with the prime suspect, as well as the police psychologist Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and seems unable to find who the killer is, whilst all the time the bodies mount up. Through his eyes, and performance, Verhoeven gets the audience to move from certainty that they know who is killing to doubt and unease. Like Curren, we end up suspecting just about everybody - as Curren discovers that just about everyone is hiding a secret which could form the basis of a motive. This also represents one of the high points in Sharon Stones career with her portrayal of the amoral, bisexual Catherine whose crime books are being re-enacted.

If you have not seen the film before, the end reveal of just who is the killer may leave you a little cold. The problem here is that the plot has taken so many twists and turns, throwing suspicion on just about every female character that it actually feels like a bit of a cheat. That said I’m sure that there are many who will find the ending satisfying.

The film is supplied with a DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack with optional subtitles; aspect ratio is 1080i 2.35:1. There are no bonus features apart from a picture and audio tune up facility.

I do not hide my stance as an advocate for Blu-ray films, which contain both superior sound and picture, but you have to wonder why a studio would put out a film with such a dearth of content, which for the average punter won’t have them running out to buy new equipment. Given that most players now upscale, even cheap DVD players, this has nothing to distinguish this release’s content from the DVD version.


Charles Packer

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