The problem with The Godfather is that there weren’t enough 1920’s style “Death Rays.” (Seriously, though, count me in the thought-it-was-dull camp.)
With Kill Bill, I don’t think it was a case of pandering to the audience or underestimating their attention spans, just knowing the movie and how to present it. To me it felt like sensory overload as it was; any more would’ve just been exhausting. There’s so much jumping around in time and place and tone and just shot length, it would’ve been too much to keep that up for four or even three hours.
Plus, it would’ve lessened the impact of a lot of the scenes; the whole Blue Leaves segment builds and builds, culminating in the climax with the battle against O-Ren Ishii. If the movie had kept going on after that, it would’ve either been too many Big Important Fights back-to-back, or it would’ve made all of that less of a pay-off. Compare it to the middle Matrix movie, which was IMO too long. The highway sequence was spectacular (and this coming from somebody who doesn’t like The Matrix), but then had all the power sucked out of it by the anti-climax – and of course, that movie’s not over yet, either.
It could be because I think Kill Bill is all style and the “plot” and “characters” are just tangential, but I thought the flow of Volume 1 was just right. Right into the action, flashbacks, essential sensei scene, big climax, set-up for next episode, and the last-minute surprise. Longer would’ve really started to show how threadbare the story is.
And for the record, am I the only one really disappointed by the QT interview that Diogenes quoted? I loved Volume 1, shallow plot and characters and all; I think trying to play up emotional resonance and all that is kind of missing the point. What’s wrong with just doing a clever action-based movie, if you can make it so well? He doesn’t need to show off intelligence or depth with dialogue or meaningful characters; being able to make something that draws on so many influences and does it with so much style should be worthwhile on its own.