THE POPCORN REEL EDITOR'S DESK - a weekly word about the movies                      

Monday, July 17, 2006


After taking a week off from writing this column I have come back just in time to talk about last week's release of "Basic Instinct 2" on DVD.  Every critic known to humankind it seemed trashed this film as unwatchable or forgettable or a waste of time, but the film wasn't that bad at all.  (Here's what I had to say about it when it was released at the end of March.) On a recent edition of "Ebert and Roeper", a weekly North American television show of movie reviews, a special show entitled "The Worst Movies So Far," included "Basic Instinct 2" on its list.  Yet even Roger Ebert conceded that "you won't be bored watching ["Basic Instinct 2"]."

And he's right.

Who knows why the film didn't do well?  Was it the 14 year-gap (the original featuring Ms. Stone and Michael Douglas was released on March 20, 1992)?  Was it the weak dialogue?  Was it all the endless revisions and director changes?  Was it Sharon Stone, who was initially reluctant to do another film after what had happened with her and director Paul Verhoeven from the first film?  "Basic 2" performed terribly, yes, but that doesn't make it a bad film.  Hundreds of films that are excellent don't make big money; most of them do poorly and lose money.
"Basic Instinct 2" was far from excellent, very far.  But the film was not nearly as bad as many critics and audiences claimed it was.

I went into a well-known electronics store recently and took a look at the unrated DVD release of the film, which supposedly includes explicit footage that did not make it into the original theatrical cut.  I asked one of the employees whether the film has been selling well. "Yes", he replied.  "It might take off and become a big hit." 

I am thinking that he is right.

Who knows why Sony Pictures did not release the unrated version into theaters or release it as an NC-17 release in North America?  Though the NC-17 is traditionally considered the kiss of death for a film, several films including the 1990 film "Henry and June" -- the first film to be tagged with the revised rating -- did fairly well in spite of the rating.  The sequel to the 1992 original, directed by Michael Caton-Jones has been retitled "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction".  If the film did poorly worldwide as an R-rated film when it was released in March, then what would Sony Pictures have to lose if it had released it (or decided to re-release it) as an NC-17 rated film with all the explicit footage intact?

Some of the plot was lame, and yes, unbelievable, but Sharon Stone did what audiences expected her to do": seduce and destroy, with both her body and her mind. 

What more -- apart from a story -- does an audience want?


Omar P.L. Moore
The Popcorn Reel