First and definitely foremost... this is one long movie. It's just shy of 3 hours, and it feels it. Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying it's slow or uninteresting. I'm just saying I really felt that 3 hours in that chair. What didn't help was a moderately slow start. To me, the start of a Tarantino movie is one of the best parts. It's always this slow, deliberate story or conversation. This was perfected, in my eyes, in Christoph Waltz's introduction in Inglorious Basterds. Perfect pacing. Perfect amount of tension and menace and build-up. So here, we get another introduction with Christoph Waltz, so the film automatically sets you up to want a similar brilliance. But, to me, that doesn't happen. Yes, there is somewhat of a discussion that builds up to a moment of shock. But something about it didn't feel very... Tarantino. I didn't have that same thrill at the start that his films always hit off with.
And from there it's pretty much a collection of segments that depend on who the bad guy is at the time. And the film sure does put a fair number of "boss battles" to face throughout. And more often than not, those are the best parts of the film. The last... I don't know... 30-45 minutes--starting from the dinner table scene through to the end of the movie--is purely outstanding. The dinner table scene and the scene near the start of the film when they first ride into the little town and invite themselves into the bar are two of the best performed and written scenes in the film (showcasing Leo and Christoph respectively). Those are some classic Tarantino moments... and I think my biggest problem with the film is that it's nearly 3 hours long and the film doesn't have nearly enough moments like those. Sure, they're sprinkled throughout, some suspenseful and some comical (the KKK masks scene is fantastic, as well). But I felt that, particularly in the first half of the film (prior to Leo and Sam Jackson showing up, and yes, it does take about half the film to get to them), the Tarantino dialogue wasn't up to par. And I often wondered how much of that first half was all that necessary.
All of that being said, however, the second half of the movie more than makes up for any low points the first half might have had. Hell, that last 30-45 minutes alone are worth the price of admission. The violence, comedy, blood, and mix therein is all pretty damn entertaining. Glorious, even.
The acting is all fantastic, as well, from start to finish. Christoph Waltz gives another solid performance for Tarantino. He's no Hans Landa, but he's fun enough. Jamie Foxx has a lot of fun with the titular character. Jonah Hill does show up, but it's barely a cameo. He's on screen maybe five minutes tops and he doesn't say that much. DiCaprio kills it in the dinner scene in particular (and the scene that follows), and prior to that, he shows us he's having fun as a villain. But who steals the show is, of course, Samuel L. Jackson. He has a pretty decent-sized role this time, and he is both hilarious and potentially menacing.
I thought the film had a bit of a rocky start, but it really grew on me as it went on. When the scenes hit, they hit hard and strong. While every moment isn't like a Pulp Fiction or Inglorious Basterds wherein they have amazing dialogues or monologues, there are enough throughout the film that are good enough to eventually make up for it. And the violence is exploitation-level fun and over-the-top. The comedy is great. The acting is superb. Is this Tarantino's best film? No. But that doesn't stop it from being really, really good.
Royale With Cheese