Basic Instinct 2‘s striking opening scene, in which Catherine Davis Tramell (Sharon Stone) drives herself and a zonked-out rugby player into a river during an orgasm, visually encapsulates everything you need to know about Stone’s character and everything that’s wrong with the film. She swims to the surface, leaving the man trapped inside the car, which evokes a penis losing its erection. The film, likewise, is a total downer. Fourteen years after the original Basic Instinct, the aged vintage between Catherine’s legs is wrecking havoc all over a blue-and-grey London that seems to revolve around a phallus-shaped Epcot Center out of which psychiatrist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey) dispenses steely advice. Same gist and whodunit non-ending as the original (Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-nominated score is recycled ad nauseum, suggesting a molesting presence in a comatose film), which was no masterpiece but still had sizzle. Michael Caton-Jones’s sequel feels spayed whenever Stone isn’t on screen—his color palette brings to mind a piece of dried-out flint that couldn’t even spark a campfire—and desperate whenever she’s on. You see, Stone doesn’t so much enter and leave the film of her own volition so much as she’s carted on and off like Hannibal Lecter, the difference being that she’d rather sit and cum on your face than bite it off. The extent of the woman’s sexual agency is penetrating the space-time continuum with her gaze: even when she’s on television it’s as if she’s looking through the camera and at Morrissey’s wet-noodle character sitting at home. Best unintentionally hilarious scene: the animal pose Catherine strikes while putting the finishing touches to her latest novel. She writes so badly even Harry Knowles wouldn’t publish her on his site (unless he already knew what she looked like), which is surprising given how much time and consideration she puts into coming up with witty come/cum wordplays. Worst of all, though: Catherine’s ice pick makes exactly one appearance, and it’s only to break up a chuck of frozen ice (how literal!), and certainly not with the same intensity as implied by the trailer, or the ticket stub that gave me a paper cut before seeing the movie.
Basic Instinct's steel-and-cobalt aesthetic is as oppressive as Sharon Stone's performance. Miraculously, the look of the film is impeccably preserved with little interference: edge haloes are minimal, detail is fine, skin tones even finer, and shadow delineation and color saturation is excellent throughout. The audio is equally good: audio is crisp, surrounds are incredibly active, and the score is nicely dispersed across the entire soundstage.
Michael Caton-Jones is no fun: On his commentary track, he says that the film was "never meant to be the cure for cancer" but he certainly talks about it as if it were. Equally vanilla: an 11-minute "Behind the Sheets" junket-tripe featurette, 10 deleted scenes with optional commentary, and an alternate ending that was ostensibly excised for being even more ambiguous than the original. Rounding out the disc is a string of previews old and new.
No, Basic Instinct 2 will not cure cancer, but it isn't trashy enough to give you gonorrhea.