DVD Review: Death Proof

Genius Products/The Weinstein Company
Movie ••• Picture •••• Sound •••• Extras •••

The Death Proof extended-cut DVD adds about 20 minutes to Quentin Tarantino's contribution to Grindhouse, the theatrical double-feature celebration of 1970s schlock cinema. It seems talky (even by Tarantino's standards), but a little patience brings large rewards. Much of the movie is a teaser for the long and thrilling automotive joust that resolves the proceedings. As Tarantino had hoped, it stands as one of the great car chases of all time.

Death Proof's second half has bright, sharp images, with wonderfully rich, saturated colors. But it's a little disorienting after the artificially aged-and-scarred look that permeates both the first half of Death Proof and all of Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, the other movie in Grindhouse. I can only assume that Tarantino just couldn't resist showing off those legendary stunt people to best advantage with the highest image quality he could get. The 5.1-channel sound is punchy and clean for the big chase, and predictably more subdued and center-focused for the extended dialogue sequences that precede it.

Just like the movie itself, the Death Proof extras are mostly talk - Tarantino's talk, to be specific. No commentary is included, but the director dominates the 75-minute production documentary with his familiar mix of personal anecdotes and uncontrollable laughter. Throughout, he pays tribute to his cast and crew, from stuntwoman-turned-actress Zoe Bell to his under-celebrated editor, Sally Menke. It's not really as much fun as it should be, but then neither is Death Proof itself.

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