- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2019

Oliver Stone’s trippy 1991 biographical drama about Jim Morrison and his famed bandmates debuts on ultra-high definition in The Doors: The Final Cut (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated R, 138 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $22.99).

Covering the formation of the group in the mid-1960s and its success into the early 1970s, the film often focused on the lead-singing poet that embraced a hedonistic lifestyle of excess.

His passion, lyrical fire and reckless attitude helped inspire a generation, and he became a legend after his untimely death in Paris at the way-too-young age of 27.

Val Kilmer brilliantly brought the Lizard King to cinematic life with a supporting cast that included Meg Ryan as his true love Pamela Courson, Kyle MacLachlan as keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Frank Whaley as guitarist Robby Krieger and Kevin Dillon as drummer John Densmore.

Despite Mr. Kilmer’s powerful performance in vocal and visual similarities, the film was knocked at the time by the living bandmates and many critics for its fueling of the Morrison myth of recklessness and not his reality.

I can’t speak for the first-person sources, but Mr. Stone’s interpretation certainly delivers Morrison’s raging addictions caught in an aura of the rock stardom and makes for a cautionary tale loaded with some amazing music.

The 4K disc offers two versions of the movie: the theatrical cut (140 minutes); and the final cut (138 minutes) that had Mr. Stone roughly trim off 3 minutes of one of the final scenes of the movie to allow for a more impactful finale. I didn’t notice a difference.

4K in action: A 4K restoration from the original camera negatives, with Mr. Stone supervising the color-grading enhancements, delivers the best version of the film ever released to home theaters.

Crispness is obvious with a glint of natural film grain, but primary colors saturate the screen during the Doors re-created performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and a gig at the Whiskey while the LSD hallucination-style sequences in the desert are beautifully awash in an orange pallet.

Also, thanks to a new Dolby Atmos sound mix, supervised by original sound editors Lon Bender and Wylie Stateman, viewers can not only appreciate chunks from more than two dozen songs from the band’s catalog such as “Light My Fire,” “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and “The End,” but they are now placed right in the middle of the incendiary concert musical performances that will cause Doors fans to stand up and start dancing to John Densmore’s hypnotic beats.

Best extras: The 4K disc first contains a solo optional commentary track from Mr. Stone (culled from a 2006 DVD release) that finds the director quietly droning like a college professor but entranced by his work and visual choices.

Packed with filmmaking information, topics include casting; the real Morrison; working with Industrial Light & Magic for outdoor effects shots; Mr. Kilmer’s voice; and re-creating the 1960s scenes on Venus Beach and the Sunset Strip.

Next, a new 30-minute candid interview with Mr. Stone touches on the film’s origins, story, casting, the band, the sound mix and justifying artistic license versus reality.

Interesting tidbits include the director revealing that he read 130 transcripts from Morrison’s friends and acquaintances to learn about his life before writing the screenplay, meeting Morrison’s dad (an admiral in the Navy) and trying to get Manzarak to approve the making of the film.

Also new is a 17-minute interview with Mr. Bender as he discusses the process of updating “The Doors” sound mix to Dolby Atmos. He does a great job of technically explaining what Atmos is as well as how sound was manipulated to deliver a new enveloping experience in the concert scenes as well as more intimate scenes.

The included Blu-ray disc offers all of the bonus content from the 15th anniversary edition DVD highlighted by a 52-minute French documentary (subtitled) about Morrison’s final days in Paris); a 39-minute overview of the Doors legacy with plenty of archival footage of the Morrison and the band; and even Mr. Stone talking about his Vietnam War experiences.

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