This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Darren Carver-Balsiger’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I found Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to be a better film upon second viewing. Mostly it evens out into something stronger, and doesn't feel as uneven as it did initially. However the film also flatlines a bit and whilst less things irritated me, I found what I previously loved to not be as great second time around. Specifically the final act didn't click with me quite as much, perhaps because the audience weren't as shocked by the violence this time around and it felt a lot colder.
Though, I have to say, people have got that final third a little twisted. Tarantino's neat sidestepping of reality is way more respectful to Sharon Tate than exploitative garbage like Wolves at the Door or The Haunting of Sharon Tate. Besides, the preceding dialogue about film violence lets us know that Tarantino is aware of his critics and playing up to that. I'm open to critiques of that scene (the misogyny angle can be argued, though I wouldn't go that far personally) but as a scene where two scumbags (a vapid alcoholic and a wife-murdering stuntman) kill three wannabe murderers, I think it's a lot more harmless than many are making out.
There does exist two scenes that I do find annoying however. The first is the cameo of Steve McQueen, which is just pointless fluff, made worse by an unnecessary allusion to Polanski's rape. The worst thing is still the Bruce Lee scene though, which is just so obnoxious in regards to both the history and philosophy of Bruce Lee. I guess it proves that Tarantino can make something more misguided than the disgrace which is Death Proof. Mike Moh does a committed impersonation but it's an otherwise shameful sequence. Luckily these scenes are both very minor in impact.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has many great moments - all the homages and tributes work so well - but something stops it coming together as well as everything should. It's a film that ends up less than the sum of its parts. Still, with Leo and Brad on top form, it's a fun ride.