Monday, January 03, 2005

NJ: Why Kill Bill Vol. 1 Is The Greatest Movie Ever...

...and Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a disappointing sequel.

My favorite movie of all time is Kill Bill Vol. 1. This movie is so well made...the mind boggles. The soundtrack, the pop-culture references, the non-stop pace, the cliff-hanger is about as perfect a movie as can be made today. It's an over-the-top man-plus style romp with a super-human death-machine heroine. The a disappointment in comparison. It's a good movie, but it's hard to follow the original.

The Soundtrack
I will listen to the CD of the soundtrack, and enjoy it for what it is apart from the movie it came from. I don't think there's a bad song on it.

Vol. 2's soundtrack....there's not a memorable song on it.

The References
Let's look at what the two movies reference (with help from the IMDB):
Vol. 1:
50 references total.
10/40 Tarantino/Non-Tarantino. That's a 1 to 4 ratio.
Vol. 2:
43 references total.
14/29 Tarantino/Non-Tarantino. That's close to a 1 to 2 ratio.
See where I'm going with this?

The first movie had more cultural references to begin with, and few (1 in 5) were references to Tarantino's own work. The second had fewer references, and frequently (1 in 3) they were references to Tarantino's films.

This led me to define the second film as: SELF INDULGENT.

The Pace
In Vol. 1, I don't think there is a wasted moment in the entire film. It starts with a bang (literally) and never stops until the credits roll. What scenes can you cut out? What scenes run too long? I think it's just about ideal.

Recently, I saw the uncut version. I must say, this is an example of a director not understanding why his film is a masterpiece, because the uncut version is a step backward (see also: the director's cut of Donnie Darko). The only thing I might have left in is the very brief confrontation between the final 88 member (the one she sends home to his mother). She faces him on the floor with the others and cuts off his mask (which is why he isn't wearing it when they rush up the stairs before the fight in the dark). She sees he is a kid and doesn't kill him (he does the same hands-up gesture that he does later). On one hand, this makes seeing him again later a bit more humorous which alters the flavor of the scene a bit, but not too detrimentally. On the other hand, leaving it out is fine too.

Anyway, in the first movie, the Bride kills at least 41 people (or as many as 59, depending on who did the counting). That's a lot of action for 1:51.

In Vol. 2......sigh.

The scene at the wedding. Can go. Entirely.
The scene at Bud's work. Can go. Entirely.
The scene with Esteban. Can go. Entirely.
The pace is so slow....(too slow, compared to the first one)...and there's a lot of wasted screen time. There are many, MANY parts that can be left out, and not only would it not be detrimental, it would be an improvement. Why is the scene at the wedding so important? It seems...self indulgent.

In the second movie, the Bride kills 1 person. ONE. Another person dies for sure, and there's another fight scene or two, but that's not very much action for 2:16. It's 25 minutes longer than the first one, with fewer fight scenes, less action, fewer cultural references, and more Tarantino indulgence.

The Ending
The first one ends with a fantastic cliff-hanger. It's perfect. How can you follow that?

The second one ends with...a whimper. Sigh. The conversation with Bill toward the end is great (especially the Superman speech, which is fantastic), but the actual end...just sort of tapers off.

There are people who will say that the second one is better (fools!) or that it makes the first one more enjoyable (they didn't get the first one in the first place), but these people must be Tarantino fans. If you are a big Tarantino fan, you will view the Tarantino indulgences as a good thing. If you are simply a movie fan, they aren't.

Now, I LIKE the second movie. It's good. But the first one is GREAT, and anyone who says the second one is better just hasn't done the math. I look at it like I looked at the Matrix trilogy. The first movie stands alone, cliff-hanger and all, complete and separate from anything else. The sequel is good, but I can't think of it as part of the original.

So that's what I think, and you are certainly welcome to your wrong opinion. :-)


  1. I disagree (I'm =not= wrong, dammit!) with your opinion that the cliff-hanger ending is "perfect". I think each movie should be able to stand on its own without requiring a second movie to tie things up for you (see also, The Italian Job (1969)). Cliffhanger endings simply do not work in terms of story. They're fantastic marketing tools, but are plain fucking annoying to most people.

    I say all this without having seen the second film (I was only moderately interested in seeing the first film) and, like The Italian Job, was disappointed to find out that such a hyped-up film had no ending. At all.

  2. I don't mean all cliff-hanger endings are perfect, but as cliff-hangers go, it was pretty good!

    The literal cliff-hanger ending of the original Italian Job was frustrating because there was NO REASON to end there. They're still in the situation, and the story must continue from that specific point, because the next few seconds might very well be dramatically important.

    The ending of Vol. 1 is different. That conversation can end right there (and it does) and that's fine. The MOMENT is not left in a cliff-hanger, just the eventual fates of the people involved.

    You don't need to see the second film. Let the first film stand alone (incomplete ending [in your eyes] and all).