The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

cut cut cut
It's been about a week since I went to see Kill Bill: Vol.2. At the time, I said that I enjoyed it, noting that it had "a very different vibe from the first one".

Well, I've had some time to reflect upon it, and I've come to the conclusion that I didn't enjoy this second installment as much as I initially thought, and that the "different vibe" is more due to a lot more unnecessary dead space than a movie like this should have.

(WARNING: There be spoilers ahead, minor though they be; so if you haven't seen Kill Bill: Vol. 2 yet, and plan to, you should just skip the rest of this post. Lots of other stuff to read instead, just keep scrolling...)

Basically, long stretches of this movie just seem to go absolutely nowhere. Seeing Vol. 2, I can understand how the entire Kill Bill story was originally going to be just a single film, and was repackaged as two only because Miramax gave in to Tarantino's reluctance to make the necessary cuts. The sequel reminds me of the extra footage and deleted scenes you find on DVD releases. Specific examples:

- The wedding chapel scene at the beginning. It went on forever, with Bill being formally introduced and then hanging around to chat with the groom, etc. It seemed like a good twenty minutes (it may have been shorter--I wasn't timing it), and it was pointless: We already knew, from Vol. 1, how it would end up. Why go through all that meandering? Once Bill appeared, it should have just ended then with the shootout commencing. It seems like a prime example of where Tarantino should have made his cuts.

- The majority of Budd's sequences. His first appearance, during his meeting with Bill, right on to through his hanging out at the strip club he worked at, was of little purpose. It added nothing to the story, or to his development as a character. In fact, what appeared to be the main purpose of the meeting with Bill--that Budd had pawned his priceless sword--turned out to not be true later on.

- The Bride's detour to visit the retired Mexican pimp was easily disposable. As with other scenes, it added nothing to the story--even less so than the other examples.

These are the main areas I thought felt like unnecessary filler. Other scenes, including the ones with Pai Mei and when The Bride first discovered she was pregnant, probably could've used some trimming too. All told, I'm guessing a good hour, at least, could have been chopped right out of Vol. 2, with no real loss to the story. That would bring it down to around an hour of total running time; combine that with Vol. 1's 111-minute running time, and you could have had a good 3-hour epic (I'm assuming the consolidated film would have had several editing adjustments, making it different from a simple melding of the two existing movies, even with the cuts I mentioned).

I realize the general tone I've struck here is of "cut, cut, cut". I'm not against slow, deliberate pacing in a movie; often a film-maker should take his/her time in letting a story unfold. My argument here is that, for the most part, the over-long scenes in Vol. 2 don't serve the purpose of letting the story unfold; they're just filler, mostly. If they truly added some value to the story, I wouldn't suggest doing away with them. But in my view, they don't, so they can go.

Basically, I think Miramax's Harvey Weinstein should have pushed harder to get Tarantino to make the cuts any director would have to make; it would have made for a much tighter, and more satisfying, film. Vol. 2 felt like a collection of scenes that should have seen the cutting room floor.

Of course, the way it worked out, Weinstein made the right move, and then some: Instead of releasing a single movie--that, admittedly, would have probably done great business--he got two movies that both will do tremendous business, meaning twice as much money as would have been the case originally. I still don't think it was the right move artistically, but it sure was financially.

The problem now is the prospect of other studios mimicking this approach: Releasing projects as two-parters, where the two movies are chock-full of overly-long footage that should have been trimmed. It worked well for Kill Bill, but I smell disaster if this approach becomes standard operating procedure. We could be in for a lot of pointless film time, release solely for the most bang for the studio buck.