Grindhouse Presents Death Proof (2007) - Extended and Unrated
|Genre(s): Crime / Drama|
|Dimension || Unrated - 113 minutes - $29.95 || September 18, 2007|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-09-19|
Writer(s): Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell, Eli Roth
Theatrical Release Date: April 6, 2007
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Due to the box office disappointment of the Grindhouse double feature, in order to get their money back, Dimension Films decided to release the two films, Planet Terror and Death Proof, separately. Unlike some, I don’t mind the move at all. The only thing that does bother me is it negates the whole “Grindhouse” appeal plus getting those fantastic fake trailers.
Death Proof, in the context of “Grindhouse”, was not my cup of tea. In fact, after a romping good time during Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, I thought the whole momentum not only stalled, it was damn near dead until the climax. Now taking a look at it fresh and on its own (and just taking it as Tarantino’s latest), my feelings really haven’t changed.
The chase scene at the end was thrilling harking back to the days of Bullitt -- the revving of a muscle car is all that is needed for sound -- but the obvious Tarantino dialogue scenes with the latter four ladies (Dawson, Thoms, Winstead and Bell) was painful to sit through. Sure, having four chicks talking movies and cars is a fanboys wet dream, but it certainly was not riveting.
What works for Death Proof, outside of the chase, is Kurt Russell. In all the scenes he’s in, Russell brings a certain weight to the screen and just lights things up. This is not to say the women of DP aren’t cool and/or sexy (because they are), but Kurt ‘Snake Plissken’ Russell makes the entire project worthwhile as he did for the “Grindhouse” experience in theaters.
This “extended and unrated” cut adds in a few new scenes, most notably to fanboys the infamous lap dance “missing reel”. Although it’s not all I imagined it to be, seeing the incredible Vanessa Ferlito doing the dance would be well worth the price for the DVD (to be fair, though, I’ve had a little crush on her since her days on “CSI: NY”). The other addition is a new opening with the second lady crew at a convenience store (and shows a first encounter with Russell).
Here is are my initial thoughts within the “Grindhouse” context:
“This one really has two-parts: the first follows a group of friends having a grand old time in Austin, Texas, showing one of their friends the night life where they meet Stuntman Mike (Russell; Poseidon) at a bar. But Stuntman Mike isn’t just any ordinary sleazy, scarred individual, no, he also has his beloved car. He explains to another bar patron, Pam (McGowan), that it is, in fact, “death proof”.
The second story tags along with a group of four chicks (Dawson, Thoms, Winstead and Bell) who work in the movie business. They eventually, after a round of boring chick talking like guy talk, catch the eye of Stuntman Mike which finally kicks things into high gear and nearly makes up for it all.
Not to say Death Proof isn’t a good movie, but with Planet Terror building so much adrenaline and excitement, going from zombies and over-the-top gore and action to a Woody Allen-like table talk, I quickly became bored. That Tarantino style of writing is great and all, but outside of the last 20-minutes, I didn’t have nearly as much fun as I did with Planet Terror and, daring to raise the anger of Tarantino fans, it was tedious. Maybe on its own it would’ve been better, but combined with Rodriguez’s flick, it doesn’t hold a candle to the entertainment value.
As I pointed out, the last 20-minutes are indeed fantastic and along with Kurt Russell’s performance (he looked like he was having a grand time), Death Proof is at the very least an OK movie filled with sexy vixens (I love Vanessa Ferlito and Rosario Dawson) and fast cars.”
This is a two-disc DVD with the feature on disc 1 and the bulk of features on disc 2. The only feature on the first disc is the “Death Proof” International Trailer followed by an International Poster Gallery.
Disc two starts out with the highlight of Death Proof in Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof (20:40) and this is the best feature. Less an inside look into the stunts (there is some footage), but you get insight from the top stuntmen and women in the business including Buddy Joe Hooker, Tracy Dashnaw and Terry Leonard.
Introducing Zoe Bell (8:58) - Tarantino explains why she was in the movie in an acting capacity and gives an overview of her career and her American start on the Kill Bill movies. It’s obvious Tarantino is head over heels for her and you do get a glimpse of why here and watching her in the movie itself.
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike (9:33) - We hear from Russell talking about the part, how he was cast and his respect for stunts. The obvious callback for him came from his role in Escape from New York. Tarantino gives his own views on Kurt Russell and how it came about.
Finding Quentin’s Gals (21:16) - One by one, Tarantino talks about each of the ladies in Death Proof, what he liked about them and the casting process. The part played by Vanessa Ferlito was actually written for her (taking into account her Brooklyn roots) while another was left to grow for the actor. The women also give their word on the parts and working with each other and Tarantino. Because Zoe Bell got her own featurette, she’s only discussed briefly.
The Guy’s of Death Proof (8:15) - Since the ladies are the focal point in DP, the guys don’t get as much attention, though they get their due.
The last two features, Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke (4:38) and Uncut Version of “Baby, It’s You” (1:48) are fine additions, especially the latter which showcases Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s talent not as an actress (she is good) but as a singer.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Death Proof is presented in its original 2.35 OAR and as far as I can tell, looks good. Remember, this is a callback to the 1970s and Tarantino added in dust grains and scratches for effect.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is fine with the music taking the advantage of all the speakers. A 5.1 mix is also available for French, Italian and Spanish.
While I understand the anger of splitting up the two Grindhouse movies, I equally see the other side for the studio to make some of their investment back. Watching Death Proof on its own, it’s certainly not a bad film and has many things going for it, but it’s really an average film. The inclusion of the lap dance scene is nice and for some might be worth paying $15 and I cannot argue that it isn’t.
Personally, I’m more looking forward to the Planet Terror release that will also be uncut.