Much like the fight scenes in the Matrix, Quentin takes what on the surface ought to be abhorant and stomach-turning violence, and transforms it into a kind of artful dance that is spell-binding to watch. It doesn’t stop you from wincing and maybe even turning your head from time to time (at least for me. Actually a few times I almost kneed myself in the face trying to block out a shocking visual or two ), but it does affect how you interpret it. And damn can those women fight. It’s surreal to be watching a fight scene between two women so violent that it's unquestionably horrifying, and yet not help but feel that the battle scene is somehow “beautiful”. And I don’t mean that in a socially deviant sort of way…I mean that at an aesthetic level the violence in Kill Bill becomes an artistic expression. It’s intriguing and disconcerting at the same time.
Those of you not familiar with the Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill phenomena would do well to first read the review thread of Kill Bill Volume 1 before delving into Kill Bill 2.
The first film, remarkable in its own right, is augmented and completed with Volume 2. Together they create a single, comprehensive film with an unbroken momentum of continuity. I’ll leave it to the fans posting in this thread to debate the issues of the director’s intentions for a single, unified film presentation versus the two-volume installment manifestation we see currently realized.
Kill Bill Volume 1 was a thrilling, yet linear, revenge story. Kill Bill Volume 2 takes the whole experience to a new level. The more straight-forward revenge plot of vol 1 expands, widens, and deepens into a much more complex web of human relationships and interwoven situations. Character development is enriched in this second film and causes you, the viewer, to recalculate you impressions of characters and events from the first film that you thought you had neatly wrapped up and put away. The ending, while not quite a "revelation" moment like watching the sixth sense, does cause the movie to profoundly fall into place with that venerable sensation of “ahaah”. What struck me over and over with Kill Bill Volume 2 was how Q.T. keeps causing you to go back and revisit (often more than once) sequences you've already processed from the first film…and even itself, the second film, to see them in a slightly different way…the contemplative equivalent of reexamining the same item from different angles and perspectives…each one broadening your impression of the whole. Kill Bill Volume 2 completes and fulfills Volume 1 and together they form a single, unified film that is masterfully accomplished: Brilliantly done and beautifully rendered.
To spare you the agony: much better than Kill Bill Volume 1.
If you remember my review of Kill Bill Volume 1 (or if you own the disc and have noticed for yourself), the image was grossly over-filtered and the effect on large-screen systems was an image severely lacking in fine detail to the point of looking more like a blown-up laserdisc or VHS tape than a 16x9 encoded DVD (my score of 4/5 was a bit generous…I think doing it again I’d rate it closer to 3.5/5). Thankfully, while Kill Bill Volume 2 is not perfect, it does not suffer from the same distressing fate and looks much, much, more film-like in large-scale presentation.
From 1.6 screen widths back from my 100” image, Kill Bill Volume 2 looks “good” and approximates the excellent 35mm print that I saw projected theatrically with about an 85% success ratio. Not as good as the best mastered DVDs, and not as good as Miramax’s best (Chicago), but definitely in the above-average Miramax category. Detail still seems a bit filtered which affects the sense of depth and film-facsimile for far-ground objects, but mid-ground detail, like features of character faces, and fore-ground objects and close-ups are satisfying. As usual (for Miramax), there is a mild case of edge halos ringing around hard vertical edges (appears to be applied primarily in the horizontal domain, though some minor ringing can also be seen along the mountain-silhouettes along horizon lines). Telephone poles and the like show the most visible signs of ringing, but it’s not too intrusive and in many scenes there weren’t any ringing artifacts to distract. As I’ve mentioned in my last few reviews, the most damage that seems to be done by such HF emphasis is that the gentle and subtle naturalness of the “film appearance” becomes ever-so-slightly hardened or artificial. Having seen this film projected via a pristine 35mm print and having other optimally mastered DVDs in my collection to compare, I think my point of reference is valid to make this statement. Viewers watching from more than 2 screen widths distance from their displays or with displays that are less resolving than the 1280 x 720 DLP chip on which I’m watching may not find the EE to be distracting or even visible.
What’s good about this image: Colors are bold and appear very much as they did in the theater. Contrast is excellent and overall compression handles many of the challenging dark-scenes and stylized/artistic imagery (the opening B&W wedding scene) very well. If whites appear “blown” in some scenes this is not the fault of the DVD—that’s the way the film elements were intended to look. I saw no distracting compression artifacts…or at least nothing of which to take notice. Also I didn’t see any signs of color banding like I saw in Hidalgo (color banding is where what should be smooth color gradient transitions or shading appear to be colored in discrete color-steps or “bands” like a paint-by-numbers painting. You can see this in many of the ocean scenes in Finding Nemo if you’re curious as to what it looks like).
Overall, really quite a satisfying DVD image I must say. Yes, it has a few problems (like all Miramax titles these days) but it’s better than Kill Bill Volume one and it’s good enough that I was able to watch the feature projected at 100 inches diagonal and enjoy the experience. Those of you sadly disappointed with the picture quality of the first disc can cast your fears aside for Kill Bill Volume 2. My hope…when we finally get the whoop-de-doo special editions of these movies…possibly with both features in the same set (maybe woven back into a single film), we’ll get a second chance to acquire the first half of this adventure mastered with the picture quality it deserves.
Baby oh yeah baby. Don’t stop baby. More!
Sorry…I was just listening to the 5.1 DTS mix on this new Kill Bill Volume 2. Ahhhhh. I need a sandwich.
Both the 5.1 DD and DTS tracks are excellent. Dynamic range is wide, the 5.1 channels are used to good advantage, surround use is employed “properly” in my opinion to sweep the soundfield out into the room creating a sense of real 360 degree acoustic space (the graveyard burial scene in particular). The Musical score sounds very well recorded and is presented with a nice sense of “air” and front-to-back soundstaging. Of course, the martial arts sound effects sound dubbed and over emphasized…exactly as they should.
Usual with my impressions (except for what I noticed on Hidalgo…be sure to check that review if you think I always defer to DTS arbitrarily), the DTS just edges out a bit ahead of the DD in my system. Both are excellent, the DD seems a bit bassier and vocals lack the roundness and subtle low-level detail...in comparison to the DTS track of course (you'd never know what was missing without the DTS to compare) which just raises the realism a few degrees higher: smoother midrange, more front/back soundstage depth, and more seamless integration of the speakers (making the soundfield appear more holistic).
This is an excellent soundtrack, and one that was clearly prepared with a great deal of care and intention.
- [*][b]The Making of Kill Bill Volume 2: A 25 minute featurette (4x3) that really is more a cast and crew interview than a “making of” documentary but that’s fine with me. The interviews are interesting and there is lots of material covered, along with some behind the scenes trivia and interesting details about many of the decisions and issues affecting production. Worth the 25 minutes you’ll spend.
[*][b]Kill Bill Volume 2 Premiere:An 11 minute feature (4x3) dealing mostly with the musician/composer who scored the music for the film. He performs some of his music here from the film. Enjoyable and lets you see just how cool all the guys are who were a part of making this movie.
[*][b]Deleted Scene: You get a whole whopping deleted scene folks. Actually it’s a very cool deleted scene and is…I can hardly contain myself…16x9 encoded. Picture quality is near feature quality, though sound quality appears to be pre-production audio presented in mono.
[/list] Ok, so that’s not too many features. But they’re decent and you KNOW that you’ll get more features than you can stand when the eventual Kill Bill SE heads our way…
If you can handle the extreme violence, bizarre scenarios, and fast visual style of Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill may be for you. The two films need to be seen conjointly…or at lest consecutively; do NOT listen to your friends who say you can watch Kill Bill Volume 2 without seeing the first film. They are WRONG.
This DVD brings you a nice, but not perfect picture that will satisfy most viewers of small, mid, and large-screens alike (though large screen viewers may notice occasional mild edge-ringing and slight softness). The audio, both DD and DTS, are excellent mixes and really demonstrate exactly how effective the creative use of multi-channel audio can be. Extras are slim, but what is provided is of good quality and we all know a future Kill-Bill SE is coming so we’ll get our boatload of special features when it gets here.
If you loved Kill Bill Volume 2, and don’t mind buying a DVD now to get you through while you wait for the eventual SE, this version of Kill Bill Volume 2 should satisfy...