Kill Bill: Volume 2

Review by Guido Henkel

Kill Bill: Volume 2  (2004)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Length:        137 mins.
Rated:          R
Format:       Anamorphic Widescreen ∑ 2.35:1
Languages:English, French
Subtitles:    English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese
Extras:        Deleted Scene
                     Featurette
                     Premiere Clip

Pablo Picasso once set out to find out with how little he would get away with, meaning he wondered if people would still pay fortunes for his paintings, even if he put nothing but a single one brush stroke on a canvas wihout a deeper purpose Ė and they did. With "Kill Bill," Quentin Tarantino seems to have had a similar inclination, only in reverse. It appears as if he was trying find out with how much he could get away with. Now that both volumes of "Kill Bill" are finally available on DVD I can safely say that it is one of the most convoluted and aimless films made in recent years. While the first volume was able to generate some intrigue despite its pointless and gratuitous violence, the second one is simply hopelessly lost in a limbo of impotent storytelling.

As you can certainly tell by now, I do not fully share the sentiment that Tarantino is one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation. I agree that he has a unique style, which is basically created by copiously stealing elements and entire shot sequences from other genres and foreign films. Homage to these films, maybe, but the more I see of his work, the more I am pressed to say he is simply exploiting the unfamiliarity of his audiences with these elements to generate a false sense of ingenuity. It reminds me a lot of the Wachowski-syndrome.
Donít be fooled, nothing of what Tarantino does is really new. Itís been done thousands of times before, often much better, even. I do respect his sense of visual style, however, the fearless way in which he assembles these "borrowed" vignettes and thus creates the Tarantino-style.

As evidenced also in his previous films, Tarantino is a horrible storyteller. Chopping up whatever narrative is underlying his films, he creates an assemblage of sequences and shots that may be exciting and interesting, each on its own, but seen as an entire film, he is typically giving up suspense of disbelief for his comic book approach. I know, a lot of people try to tell you that this is a deliberate and make Tarantinoso special, but frankly, I donít buy it, especially as the novelty wears off, now that he has more than three films under his belt, and we witness the same routine over and over again.

With that, back to "Kill Bill," a film that follows Tarantinoís tradition and throws together elements of different style, origin and content to create a movie. The entire story arch of "Kill Bill" is absolutely simplistic, a woman scorned on a rampage to take revenge on the five people who tried to kill her. Do you really need two separate films or approximately five hours of running time for such a banal premise? Hardly so, and as such "Kill Bill" is tedious, filled with superficial, self-serving dialogue Ė the "Superman" monologue is just a time-waster with no purpose direction or relation to the story and serves only to express Tarantinoís view on the comic book superhero genre. It is filled with scenes that should have belonged on the cutting room floor. The movie could easily have been packed into 90 minutes and deliver the punch it would have required to bring home the utterly simplistic plot. Whatís worse is that Tarantino made a number of truly poor decisions when putting the film together and the horribly unsatisfactory ending is only one of them. (Iíve been sitting through 5 hours of film to see a miserable excuse of an ending, and quite frankly felt cheated.) There is no payoff, no element of suspense, nothing, just another Tarantino-esque throwing some random crap in the mix to make the film different for the differenceís sake but not for any editorial or narrative reason. And letís best not mention the moments in which Uma Thurman pretends to do Martial Arts. Embarrassing is too weak a word to describe whatís happening there.

As expected, the presentation of the movie on DVD is meticulous. The image is absolutely clean and clear and free of any blemish. The level of detail is expectedly high, perfectly rendering every bit of information in the image without noise or grain. "Kill Bill" is a beautiful picture with rich cinematography and a good production design throughout. The DVD manages to bring this to live wonderfully without problems. Black levels are absolutely solid and highlights are never blooming. No edge-enhancement mars the presentation and the compression is also without artifacts.

As is the case with Tarantinoís other films, if thereís one thing that does consistently convince, it is the music and the same holds true for "Kill Bill." Songs selection is wonderful and perfectly matches the pictures, conjuring up great classic movie moments. The presentation features a great frequency response and dynamic range making sure music and sound effects come with a maximum of impact. Dialogues are well integrated but their looped feel often distracts from a scene. The DVD contains a DTS track as well as Dolby Digital tracks in English and French and each track is utterly convincing with an equally well reproduced sound field. The audio is active and aggressive throughout making for a very dynamic presentation of the movie.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has added a Deleted Scene to the DVD as well. Itís hardly surprising that not more deleted scenes are there as Tarantino seems to have added just about any usable shot in the film to stretch it just a bit more, and as such I am surprised he didnít add the scene presented here as well.

Also included is a behind-the-scenes featurette taking a look a the making of the movie featuring interview clips with Quentin Tarantino as well as some cast members. I found Tarantinoís explanation of his film a bit tedious and repetitive, but overall itís certainly worth a glimpse. The release is rounded out by footage form a live performance of Robert Rodriguez and his band "Chingon" as they play tracks from the movieís soundtrack during the movieís premiere party.

I found "Kill Bill" to be sore disappointment as a whole. The film is unsatisfying, way too long and aimlessly stumbling along. The poor acting and the horrible dialogues further add as detractors from the film and unless Quentin Tarantino wants to deliberately establish himself as the new Ed Wood, Iím sorry to say that I no longer buy this "itís done purposely" or "itís style" excuse everyoneís so quick to offer up. Tarantino has a wicked way of making movies, in doubt, but he needs to become a bit more focused, less indulgent and self-serving. A few lessons with Pai Mei would probably do him good.

    

August 9, 2004

rectrect

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