Along with director Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino released the film Grindhouse in 2007 which was essentially two films for the price of one. The first film was by Rodriguez, a zombie thriller called Planet Terror. The second film was Tarantino’s contribution, a lackluster sleep-inducing film called Death Proof. While a good idea, the elements surrounding the film have made it his worst yet.
Bad Pairing with Planet Terror
Planet Terror was full of action and zombies getting their heads blown off. An ultraviolent film with people (one of them a Black Eyed Pea) getting eaten by zombies, it could be difficult for even The Godfather to follow. Planet Terror played first with Death Proof coming second. The transition was not a good one. A good comparison would be dating a fun party girl one week then a bookworm mute saving herself for marriage the next. Death Proof may have had its moments, but like most Tarantino films there were long instances where it dragged on too long. Coming after Planet Terror made this far more noticeable.
Tarantino is fully capable of writing good female characters–at least this is what we have been made to believe. Perhaps it was the lack of Uma Thurman that made the women in Death Proof so incredibly intolerable. Rooting for them to survive was difficult as they all seemed to have very few redeeming qualities other than talking about cars from old movies which to the audience is not something we need to hear about for a half hour
Not Enough Mary Elizabeth Winstead
The cheerleader in the group of women was played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. At this point in her career she wasn’t very well known as she had yet to crush men’s hearts as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The choice was made for her to stick around as collateral and not go off for the adventure. This left us all a little disappointed for obvious more primitive reasons.
Talk Talk Talk
It felt as if Tarantino wrote the script hoping to eventually come up with some good lines which never did arrive. There’s no true quotable moment from the film; a real rarity for something he has penned. Kurt Russell comes off as charismatic as needed for his role as Stuntman Mike, but other than bragging about his car like a snobby high school kid he offers very little. The character Jungle Julia, who works on the radio, has very few important things to say too. Based on this aspect of the film it may have done better as a silent one.
After a film that felt like it took forever to finish we are rewarded with a sudden ending. The women trap Stuntman Mike and mercilessly beat him in video game fashion. Then suddenly the film is over. Taking a look back at other films by Tarantino endings are clearly not his best. He gets away with it in Pulp Fiction as the story is told out of order and with Reservoir Dogs the tension was so high we didn’t really care what the last visual was. Death Proof just seemed as if this was a movie for the sake of making one. A better ending would have–well I’m not really sure. As a whole the movie was extremely flawed. Maybe Tarantino had the same problem as me making such a disaster finish on a positive note.