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Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction

Sony Pictures // R // July 11, 2006
List Price: $38.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Joshua Zyber | posted July 18, 2006 | E-mail the Author
"You know I hate being bored."

The Movie:
Who wanted this? More importantly, who invested $70 million in it and why? Other than Sharon Stone and her agent, was anyone in the world clamoring for a Basic Instinct sequel this late in the game? Now don't get me wrong, the first Basic Instinct from 1991 was great trashy fun that deservedly made a star out of Stone, and had a sequel followed up right away it might have stood a chance at drawing in some decent business, but it's been 14 goddamn years. No one wants a sequel now. In fact, the whole thing is just kind of embarrassing. Nevertheless, here we have it, Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction, an unneeded, unwanted, undeserved, nearly unwatchable follow-up to the Paul Verhoeven-directed hit.

Verhoeven himself apparently had better things to do, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas has finally ostracized himself from Hollywood, and Michael Douglas was smart enough to abstain. So returning from the first movie we have Sharon Stone and.... well, that's it. Her career on an ebb lately, the one-time sex vixen must have desperately hoped that a revival of her most famous role would put her back on the A-list. Not so much, honey. To be fair, even at 48 years-old Stone is still a damn fine-looking lady, but come on now, this character is done. Frankly, it's a little sad watching the actress trying to vamp it up as the psycho-slut Catherine Tramell again.

Trying to divorce itself from too many memories of the original, the sequel moves the action to London, where the murderous author Tramell is once again caught up in a sex scandal involving the death of a man she was dating. Stepping in for Michael Douglas is British character actor David Morrissey as the psychiatrist assigned to diagnose her psychosis and testify in court. Naturally, he gets wrapped up in her vicious web of mind games and seduction. Much sweaty boot-knocking and icepick-wielding thrills ensue. Theoretically, anyway. The reality is rather tedious, I'm afraid.

Journeyman director Michael Caton-Jones drew the short straw for this one. He assembled the picture with a degree of workmanlike competence but none of the histrionic flair that made the first film so entertaining. The script credited to Leora Barish and Henry Bean is patently ridiculous, but not in a fun way. The movie has a dumb plot and awful dialogue, and worse it takes itself way too seriously. It's more talk than action, and when we do get to the signature sex scenes they're so irrelevant to the story that they actually feel gratuitous. I wouldn't have thought it possible to make the sex scenes in a Basic Instinct movie seem redundant, but there you have it. Poor David Morrissey took a lot a criticism for not being Michael Douglas, but truth be told his performance is perfectly fine. It's just that his character is written as a complete dumbass who knows that Tramell is a pathological liar but believes her anyway. There's nothing any actor could have done to carry this turkey. And what are David Thewlis and Charlotte Rampling doing here? Were they conned into believing they'd be making a different movie?

The film has a moderately clever twist ending that attempts to act as an inversion of the first movie, but the logic behind it doesn't stand up to scrutiny, and even if it did the ordeal of sitting through the rest of the picture isn't worth the payoff. To give you an idea of how dumb the movie is, let me ask this: After having deliberately driven her car off a pier at 100 miles per hour, even if the police couldn't prove Tramell intentionally murdered her boyfriend, couldn't they have at least convicted her of Reckless Endangerment or Manslaughter (or the British equivalents thereof) and gotten her off the streets in the first ten minutes, thereby negating the need for everything that happens afterward? I certainly wish they had. It would've spared the rest of us a lot of misery.

The Blu-ray Disc:
Basic Instinct 2 debuts on the Blu-ray format courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The marketing geniuses at the studio have opted to release only the R-rated theatrical cut on Blu-ray. If you want to watch the "Unrated Extended Cut", that's only available on regular DVD.

Blu-ray discs are only playable in a compatible Blu-ray player. They will not function in a standard DVD player or in an HD DVD player. Please note that the star rating scales for video and audio are relative to other High Definition disc content, not to traditional DVD.

The Basic Instinct 2 Blu-ray is encoded in High Definition 1080p format using MPEG2 compression on a single-layer 25 gb disc. The movie is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 with letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the 16:9 frame.

This is easily the worst-looking Blu-ray I've seen yet, and that's saying quite a lot. Although there are a small handful of close-up shots with a relatively decent sense of detail that I might believe are High Definition, the rest of the disc looks sub-par even by regular DVD standards. Just about every single wide shot looks filtered and flat. Black levels are dull and washed out, colors are shallow, and flesh tones look pallid. Edge enhancement ringing is minor but still visible in some scenes. The worst part of the disc, however, is its digital compression quality. Compression noise and artifacts are out of control in just about every scene. Film grain looks noisy as hell throughout. Even color banding is occasionally problematic. This is a shamefully poor excuse for High Definition.

The Basic Instinct 2 Blu-ray disc is not flagged with an Image Constraint Token and will play in full High Definition quality (if you can call it that) over a Blu-ray player's analog Component Video outputs.

The movie's soundtrack is provided in uncompressed PCM 5.1 format or in standard Dolby Digital 5.1. The very first scene sounds pretty good, with great usage of directional surround effects and satisfying bass. After that, unfortunately, the film's sound design becomes terribly dull. Other than a few selected aggressive scenes, the movie is all talk. Even the musical score is suppressed pretty low in the mix. Fidelity is decent but not exceptional, and I could hear no difference in quality at all between the PCM and standard Dolby Digital tracks. The PCM track is basically just a huge waste of disc space.

Subs & Dubs:
Optional subtitles - English, English captions for the hearing impaired, or French.
Alternate language tracks - French DD 5.1.

All of the bonus features on this Blu-ray title are recycled from the DVD edition and are presented in Standard Definition video with MPEG2 compression.

  • Audio Commentary - Director Michael Caton-Jones delivers a quite perplexing talk during the film. Obviously recorded before the movie's release, he seems to take the whole thing quite seriously and apparently believes he's made a good film.
  • Between the Sheets: A Look Inside Basic Instinct 2 (11 min.) - Pure EPK filler, this featurette unintentionally helps to illuminate what went wrong with the production. In her promotional interview, Sharon Stone exclaims that she believes the best attribute of the first Basic Instinct was its script. That explains a lot. Director Michael Caton-Jones also prophetically states, "If you've just got a scene in there that's just one sex scene that's quite hot but the film around it is rubbish, then it all means nothing." Oh, how right he is.
That's it for content related to the film, though we do get one HD preview for an unrelated Sony movie. Missing from the DVD edition are some deleted scenes. No interactive features have been included.

Easter Eggs:
Hidden on the disc is a selection of HD test patterns. You can access these by entering 7669 on your remote control from the disc's main menu. Use the Skip button to page through the patterns. Please note that due to an error in the Sony encoder used to author the disc, blacker-than-black and whiter-than-white portions of the video signal have been clipped, essentially rendering the Brightness and Contrast calibration patterns useless.

Final Thoughts:
Bad movie, poor video quality, and boring bonus features make for a disc that no one needs to own. It's not even the Unrated version of the movie, so I can't even advise a rental. Just skip it and be glad you did.

Related Articles:
Basic Instinct (Blu-ray)
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