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Berardinelli Sucks Ass!

Posted on Monday, October 13th, 2003

Dave!Usually, I do not respond to how others review a film because I just don't care what random people think. Granted, I do like taking a peek at the "Tomatometer" (over at Rotten Tomatoes), because it pulls from dozens of film critics to give a general consensus as to how good a film might be... but even then, I don't really let it dictate whether or not I'm going to see a film.

Anyway, I happened across a review from James Berardinelli at his "ReelViews" site where he makes so many ridiculous jibes at Kill Bill that I was pissed off enough to be compelled to respond to his major criticisms (not to him personally, I doubt he would care, but to anybody who may be thinking of taking his "reviews" seriously)...

"...Kill Bill, which was constructed as a single motion picture before being sundered at the eleventh hour. The result is messy and frustrating - a movie that feels incomplete in every aspect." This is such a stupid comment as to be laughable. The entire story of Kill Bill is told in chapters... and not just "implied" chapters... but actual frickin' chapters that are displayed in the movie! It's not as if the film was butchered mid-scene, it actually occurs at a natural breaking point in the film between chapters. I mean, seriously, is Kill Bill really any different than Lord of The Rings or Matrix Reloaded in that respect? I actually feel that both of those films were worse, because story elements truly were incomplete in every aspect... Matrix Reloaded is particularly bad: Neo's in a coma and Zion is under attack? NOTHING is resolved, and you have more questions than answers... and are more confused than entertained! If I never saw Kill Bill: Volume 2, I would at least be able to picture an ending to the story. While I agree the editing could have been tighter, the massive amount of cuts required to make this a single film would not be worth it.

"One aspect of Kill Bill that doesn't disappoint are the action sequences. Although no better than those in The Matrix Reloaded , they are fun to watch, as The Bride slices and dices her way through dozens of enemies..." Bitch, please. No better than Reloaded?? Get off the pipe! While undoubtedly enhanced with some nifty wire work (wholly appropriate to the genre this film is in), the action in Kill Bill is REAL. These fights are not some computer-created crapfest... they are real people bashing it out with real emotion. And the carnage! Heck... compared to Kill Bill, Reloaded is just a video game with good special effects! Compare The Bride's fight against the "Crazy 88" to Neo's fight against 200 Agent Smiths and tell me that they are in any way comparable. Not even close.

"One could argue that the best thing about Pulp Fiction was the delicious dialogue, and that's something almost completely absent here. The number of quotable lines and memorable non-action sequences is small." Uhhh... dude... Pulp Fiction was a character piece. This is an action-revenge flick. They are entirely different films, with entirely different focus points... would you be happier if an action movie was more notable for the dialogue than the action? I saw Kill Bill because I wanted to see Uma kick ass. I was not disappointed. If you want to see Uma spouting cool Tarantino dialogue, then go watch Pulp Fiction again.

"Why show revenge #2 before revenge #1? There doesn't seem to be a reason. Maybe it will all become clear in Volume 2 , although I somehow doubt it."Well, as a professional movie critic, you should understand about a concept called STRUCTURE... and perhaps a rudimentary understanding of "pacing" and "balance" would also be in order. It was necessary to show "Revenge #2" before "Revenge #1" because it started the movie out with a bang and instantly draws the viewer into the story. The first revenge on O-Ren Ishii required way too much foreshadowing and back-story to make for a good opening into this type of film (and would have meant cramming two heavy fight scenes right on top of each other at the end). The way Tarantino has structured it now, there is perfect timing between the action and a balance to how the story of The Bride is revealed. The non-linear structure that Quentin uses is not so much a "signature device," but a method he uses very effectively to keep pacing and mystery through his films. When I saw Uma cross off "Revenge #2" from her list and noticed that "Revenge #1" was already marked... it really got me curious as to what happened there, thus providing a perfect window to dive into that story. The only reason Tarantino needs to mix up the chronology is because it makes for good storytelling.

"This is a problem with a revenge flick, where we're supposed to root for the hero and despise the enemy. Neither is the case here, especially since we never see Bill." Uh... gee... isn't the fact that Bill massacred The Bride's husband-to-be (along with every other person at the wedding) and shot her in the head reason enough to root for her revenge? Bill's actions alone make him an enemy worth despising.

"Everyone else would do better to stay away and avoid the bitter disappointment of seeing how the greed of a distributor can degrade the movie-going experience... Miramax claims that money plays no part in the decision to release Kill Bill in two parts. This is, in their words, a determination based solely upon a desire to respect Tarantino's "artistic vision." If that's the case, then Miramax should offer a free coupon to see Volume 2 with every ticket sold to Volume 1. I bet they won't be doing that." Excuse me, but isn't the alternative to force Tarantino to butcher the story down to a 90 minute film that's nothing but fight scenes? I can't imagine how bitchy your review of that film would be! The fact that Berardinelli cannot seem to fathom the idea that Miramax is taking one hell of a risk in dicing up the film in two parts speaks volumes as to his ignorance of the movie industry. Holy crap... what if Volume 1 tanks? They would still be obligated to release Volume 2 at a huge loss! Do you think that distributing a film and advertising it is free? Do you think that movie theaters can keep their doors open by showing free films? While I don't doubt that Miramax is hopeful that they will make huge bank from having two films... it doesn't make any sense at all to think that this was an easy decision to make. Miramax owes a huge debt to Tarantino for getting their studio on the map with Pulp Fiction. To think that this is anything other than a gift to Quentin so that he can keep his vision for Kill Bill in tact is just stupid. It would be far, far safer for Miramax to take the low road and force a more easily-sellable, butchered version of the movie.

Throughout Kill Bill , I got the sense that Tarantino thinks he is being more clever than he actually is. But, in reality, he's just more clever than James Berardinelli (who, interestingly enough, gives the film 2-1/2 out of 4 stars). I find it astounding that, as a so-called professional film critic, your review consists entirely of petty bitching on how this film is a marketing gimmick by Miramax that's not as good as Pulp Fiction. If you were not so obsessed with the things this film is not and actually concentrated you review on what it actually is, you would see that this is hands-down the most stylish action-revenge flick ever put to film. Berardinelli claims that this is "half-a-movie that runs too long." When a critic's reason for disliking a film isn't about the actual material in the half he saw, but instead is whining because he has to pay to see the ending... it's pretty difficult to take his "review" seriously when other films that are told in parts don't get the same treatment.

UPDATE: After getting a deliciously scathing comment on May 2nd, 2010 berating me for daring to voice my opinion on Berardinelli's opinion (DELETE!), I Googled around and found a genius deconstruction of the guy's reviewing "style" at Your Stupid Minds. Far be it for me to crap all over somebody's passion for film, but now I feel fully justified questioning exactly how this Berardinelli guy got to be a "Top Critic" at Rotten Tomatoes when his reviews are so pedestrian and lacking any kind of real insight or imagination.

Categories: Movies 2003Click To It: Permalink


  1. Dan says:

    I googled “James Berardinelli Sucks” and came across this due to his Addams Family Values review. Glad somebody agrees!

  2. Sue says:

    hahaa. Now I really want to see those movies!

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