‘Death Proof’: second film better, but bad for Tarantino

How do you get modern moviegoers to watch a double feature after watching a film like “Planet Terror?”

Simple. The promise of director Quentin Tarantino.

However it should be clear to all… this is no “Pulp Fiction.”

This film is Tarantino’s tribute to American muscle cars and the famous chase scenes in which they were featured. For example, the 1970 Dodge Charger featured heavily in the movie’s climactic chase scene was based off of the same car used in “Vanishing Point” (1971).

The basic premise of the film is that a crazed stuntman has begun a killing spree on attractive females. Brutal in his methods, it is never explained why he decides to kill. Perhaps more true to the movie of the ’70s than “Planet Terror,” which tended to over explain the plot.

Typical Tarantino trademarks are stamped throughout “Death Proof;” this is a gift and a curse to the film.

For example, I did not see Samuel L. Jackson’s name in the credits, but his presence was felt through a similar black character. Not only did she curse like Jackson, but they they had very similar expressions. The portrayal of blacks passes because of the genre Tarantino is attempting to mimic.

However, Tarantino’s stereotypical angry black character is getting old quick.

Another example of typical Tarantino in the film is his “hipster” dialogue. His countless references to popular culture and retro films are very useful for character development and provide trivia for film geeks.

However, his extensive knowledge of film may go over the heads of contemporary audiences. Although the dialogue is a great display of his style, it is used too much in this film.

The highlight of this film is easily Kurt Russell’s portrayal of serial killer/stuntman Mike. Russell does an excellent job of showing the various personalities of his character. In the first half of the movie, Russell is seen as a ruthless killer but in the end, his whimsical prowess makes one question if it is the same character.

In all, “Death Proof” seems more like a rough draft for a better film. Compared to Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror,” Tarantino’s addition is slower in pace but richer in content.