Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Kill Bill" Andy

For our movie this week we decided to review both "Kill Bill" movies. I've seen them before, and I remember them much more fondly than I feel now.

I fully admit that I fall asleep during movies. In fact, it is very rare for me to stay awake for an entire movie. I do better in action films, but even that's not a guarantee that I'll stay alert. I fell asleep during my first viewings of "Batman: Dark Knight" and "Inglorious Basterds" (both were late showings). I'm not proud of it, but movies help me unwind and fall asleep. I have trained myself to fall asleep during movies. I even do it friends houses. If I want to watch a movie, I need to take a nap before, and generally watch it during the morning. Anything after 6pm and I'm toast.

Why do I bring this up and what does it have to do with "Kill Bill?" Generally, when I watch a movie, I'm doing it just for entertainment. I don't have intelligent thoughts about many movies - I just watch them for fun. But when I watch a movie for the blog, I try very hard to stay alert. Staying awake doesn't help me write better or more intelligently, but I put forth the effort anyway.

I really thought I'd be able to stay awake for a full viewing of "Kill Bill." I've stayed awake for marathons before. I did all of "Lord of Rings" and even such films as "Lawrence of Arabia" in one session. Four plus hours is a lot for a movie, but I started at 7 and I had good violence to anticipate throughout the film. Right?

Wrong. Yes, I'd seen the movies before, but it's been a long time. I forgot just how terribly boring the second movie is. In preparation for writing, and to try and come up with some answers, I did some quick research. No, the film was not shot as two films, so Tarantino can't blame changes in production staff on the slow second film.

I honestly don't get it. He obviously understood what we wanted. We start out with a glorious battle between "Black Mamba" and "Copperhead." It was quick, but it was fantastic. And what was next: terrific story development about "Cottonmouth." Lucy Lu kicks butt, and so does her staff. She was fabulous playing a half-deranged mob boss when she cuts off the other boss's head and then calmly tells the other bosses that "her door is always open" to discuss their concerns, ideas, and needs.

Following that character development aside, we come to the end of the first film, and one of the best choreographed fight scenes in film. "Black Mamba" single handedly destroys "Cottonmouth's" entire organization. And Tarantino wisely broke up the scene into several distinct sections, leaving "Black Mamba" to kill each of "Cottonmouth's" major subordinates one by one. And then, just to be ridiculously awesome, "Black Mamba" takes on the entire gang - somewhere near 88 (hence the name, "Crazy 88"). And after all that build up, she finally takes on "Cottonmouth." Wonderful. As "Cottonmouth" fell to the ground, scalped from "Black Mamba's" priceless hand-made Hanzo Hattori samurai sword, I couldn't help but anticipate the second film.

In retrospect, I did remember the fight scenes in the first film, but not the second. I now know why. The second film's fights suck. There's no other way to describe them. She doesn't even get to kill or get even with "Sidewinder," even after he shoots her in the chest with rock salt and then buries her alive. No, some idiot writer thought it would be better if "California Mountain Snake" did him in with the bite of an actual black mamba. Stupid. And why is she called "California Mountain Snake?" The name is not catchy, and with so many other snakes with much more terrible reputations, why that one?

And the fight between "California Mountain Snake" and "Black Mamba" was terribly short. In fairness, I did like how it ended, with "California Mountain Snake" wandering blindly around a trashy trailer with a black mamba waiting to kill her, but why did the fight scene have to be so short? Aren't the villains supposed to be getting more difficult for "Black Mamba" to kill?

And then the finale. Or should I say anti-climactic ending? She finally gets to "Bill." They have a very long dialogue discussing why "Bill" did what he did, and why "Black Mamba" did what she did. I get it. I didn't mind the dialogue. But damn it if the fighting scene was so short I had to scan back because I missed it reaching down to get a little drink. They didn't even get out of their chairs before she had perfectly executed the five-finger-exploding-heart trick punch.

Terrible ending. And I fell asleep twice in the second film. Why? What would have possessed Tarantino to make such a boring second part of the film?

So here's my theory - Miramax broke up the film into two parts because they knew that if they release the film as a whole, it would do terrible at the box office. This way, tons of topeople would see the first film, love it (and it was deservedly great), and then see the second film. I'm shocked volume 2 did as well as it did in the theaters. Maybe the juxtaposition of both films in the same night brought out more boredom than seeing them several months apart. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm kind of bummed about how much I didn't care for Volume 2.

thoughts by Andy

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