Jan 27, 2008

[Movies] Death Proof

Death ProofMy partner and I had thoroughly enjoyed Planet Terror when we finally got around to watching it but given the somewhat lesser reviews for the other half of the Grindhouse double-feature, Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof it took a while before we got around to this one.

I already went into the whole exploitation film concept that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were paying homage to with their two films since I pretty much established that in my review of Planet Terror, so let's just jump right into the action.

Death Proof is essentially the story of Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a sadistic former stuntman who preys on young women using his "death proof" stunt car as his primary weapon. He's all charming and such as he stalks them and even talks to his victims before going after them with his vehicle, resulting in some pretty gruesome deaths.

As compared to Planet Terror, Death Proof may seem like a "slower" film, which has less over-the-top violence as its grindhouse kin. Long-time fans of Tarantino's work will recognize his flair for extended dialog, thus making his characters somehow richer and more complex. I tend to enjoy the wit and humor worked into the writing, although I'll admit it does make for a lot more exposition that what most people might appreciate. Given the predominantly female cast, at times it feels more like a "chick flick" since they tend to go on and on about this topic and that, but of course their characterization is pretty extreme and simplistic as they tend to play to certain stereotypes.

The queer side of me enjoyed the strength and "sassyness" of the female characters given the many choice lines and quips that my partner and I just might start practicing if the mood hits us. However, I can see that for most audiences, especially straight male ones, the movie might not be much more than just excessive eye candy tied together by moments of violence.

As a side note, it appears that this film somehow comes before it's grindhouse partner, Planet Terror based on some subtle clues left in the film. The movie also has a number of references to other Tarantino works and it takes a real fan to spot all of them.

Both Planet Terror and Death Proof are highly entertaining films if you can appreciate the older style of filming that they're paying homage to. While Planet Terror played more to the slasher / zombie genre of film, Death Proof was made more along the lines of classic films centered more around older muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger, which was used heavily in the movie. If you can't quite appreciate that, then this movie may seem lackluster to you and dragging at points, which ironically is precisely the point.

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