May 04, 2013
Pulp Empire, while a product of NJVC's imagination, is really an insight into how much Tarantino has affected and influenced modern cinema. It is unmistakeable of who this edit is trying to invoke. Imagine, though, an edit that was trying to invoke Polanski, Spielberg or PT Anderson. Tarantino's style is so unique unto himself, and so culturally penetrating, that all it takes is a certain font or a music cue to bring up cherished film memories and impart them over the goings in this edit of Episode IV.
However, while this is a tribute in many respects, this edit isn't just hip music accompanied by a "You like that, didn't you" smirk. This is a legitimate effort in making an autonomous film experience.
Divided in chapters like Kill Bill, scored like many in Tarantino's ouvre, and sprinkled with character title cards ala Inglourious Bastards, NJVC pulls from every Tarantino cliche (an unfair word, I admit) in order to induce the filmmaker's special touch. Of particular fondness for myself was an animated sequence that followed Luke's walking into the forest sequence. NJVC even finds himself adding to the Tarantino reference pool by including a few choice soundtrack additions that, in another Universe, I think Tarantino easily could have found room for himself.
However, it's in this dedication (or is it reluctance?) of constantly using Tarantino's previous styles that starts to get in the way. After a brilliant opening with character introductions and unique editing styles used throughout the Hoth fight (preceded by the film's first chapter of Luke arriving in Dagoba), it seems like NJVC ran out of ideas. The film begins to lumber in its third chapter never regaining the momentum and excitement from the opening 20 minutes. A few slo-mo shots are added with some choice music which helps initially, but NJCV returns too often to this "fix," only to wear out its effectiveness over time. The animated sequence helps pump new blood into the edit, but again, the editing style from then on begins to weigh down under the expectations of something more. With only a 90 minute run time, a heavy drag in the film throughout its second act is a problem.
It's difficult to say specifically what would improve this film through the bulk of it's second act. Generally, what it would benefit from would be more stylized editing choices that don't reference Tarantino's work, as much as they are inspired by them. I feel like NJCV has the creative potential to do this, considering his choices he made in the film's closing chapter.
The final chapter answers the promise of ambition sparked by the film's opening. It has unique editing choices that I haven't seen in a Tarantino film, but feels right at home in his arsenal. It also echoes the strange juxtaposition that Kill Bill vol 2 had of entertainment and tenderness. This effect, perhaps more than anything, warrants high praise for this edit.
In all, this is a fantastic piece for the fan edit community. NJVC demonstrates how effectively a film can change in the right editor's hands. Indeed, his technical prowess in manipulating the score and audio tracks leaves me baffled. Reluctance aside, everybody should give this a viewing.