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Basic Instinct: Unrated Extended Cut DVD Review

Basic Instinct: Unrated Extended Cut

July 21, 2006

Director: Michael Caton-Jones,
Starring: Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, David Thewlis, Charlotte Rampling, Hugh Dancy, Flora Montgomery, Indira Varma, Heathcote Williams, ,

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DVD Review

After the success of Basic Instinct (1992), the notion of a sequel was quickly proposed but it wasn’t going to be that easy as the project languished in development hell for many years with several screenwriters and directors being attached and then departing for various reasons. There was even the question of Sharon Stone returning as she reportedly had a falling out with the film’s producers. Finally, things came together last year and Basic Instinct 2 (2006) was finally made and released to predominantly negative reviews and lukewarm box office.

This time around, the action moves from San Francisco to London, England as crime novelist Catherine Tramell (Stone) decides to ply her trade (amongst other things) in a new location but with the same results. We first meet her speeding through the streets of the city in a sleek sports car with one of the country’s top football players pleasuring her as she drives. At the moment of climax, she crashes the car into the water. Catherine survives while he drowns.

Naturally, she comes under police investigation but as she showed in the first film, Catherine is a hard nut to crack. So, the authorities order her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation with Dr. Michael Glass (Morrissey) coming in to determine if she’s a danger to herself or others. She immediately starts playing mind games with him and gradually gets under his skin as he finds himself growing attracted to her. Glass is turned on by Catherine’s air of mystery and her unpredictable nature. As in the first film, she leaves a trail of bodies in her wake as she plays a cat and mouse game with the police, in particular Detective Roy Washburn (Thewlis) determined to bring her down.

Sharon Stone returns to her signature role but does little to advance the character from what we saw in the first Basic Instinct. All we get is more of the same. Although, one has to admire Stone for undertaking a role that requires her to show so much skin at an age when most actresses are encouraged to take on maternal-type parts. She is in great shape and is more than up for the physical demands of the role; it’s just a shame that she doesn’t have better material to work with.

The dialogue veers from merely functional to downright silly as Tramell spouts clunky double entendres in an attempt to seduce Dr. Glass. There’s an arty pretentiousness to the dialogue that takes itself way too seriously. Say what you will about the screenplay for the first film but at least it had the conviction to go all out and indulge in its sordid, B-movie material. You always felt that the filmmakers were having a bit of fun and it didn’t hurt that Paul Verhoeven’s stylish direction gave the material an attractive-looking sheen – something that is missing from Michael Caton-Jones’ sterile, impersonal approach.

Basic Instinct 2 follows a predictable path as Tramell lures Dr. Glass into a world of kinky sex and lurid murders (or is that lurid sex and kinky murders?), preying on his weaknesses as she systematically destroys his life – with help from him, of course. It’s a shame that talented thespians like Charlotte Rampling and David Thewlis are wasted on material that is clearly beneath them. They all look like they’re killing time while they collect a paycheck. This film is a wasted opportunity and could have been so much more fun in more capable hands.

Special Features:

There are nine deleted scenes and an alternate ending with optional commentary by director Michael Caton-Jones. Included is another scene where Catherine seduces Dr. Glass with a bit of dirty talk and a bit that shows the psychiatrist at work. Others are transitional sequences and extensions of scenes that were deemed unnecessary and cut. The alternate ending makes Glass’ fate a little less ambiguous and probably should have been used.

Caton-Jones also provides a commentary track for the movie itself. He had just come off of a serious, low-budget film shot in Africa and wanted to do something very different and felt that he could have some fun making a big, studio thriller. The filmmaker wanted to give the fans of the first what they expected but with a slightly different spin. He liked the feel and tone and wanted to preserve that but change the locale. Caton-Jones states, at times, the painfully obvious when he observes that the movie “is not about normal people,” but does speak intelligently about the look of Basic Instinct 2.

Finally, there is “Between the Sheets: A Look Inside Basic Instinct 2,” a featurette where cast and crew gamely gush about the film’s provocative, psychological aspects. The filmmakers wanted to make more of a stand-alone film because of the time difference between movies and the notion that they would inevitably be compared to the first Basic Instinct. This extra even takes a look at the how the film’s explosive opening sequence was done.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 49%

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