Sunday, September 05, 2010

Meanwhile at the Movies... Machete Kills!

So yeah, went to see Machete Friday afternoon at the new Living Room Theater downtown (Portland)... which is part of a new chain I guess (though it looks like there's just one in Portland and one in Florida) - cool smaller theater with six screens that show mostly indie movies, and the theaters have big recliner seats and food/drink service, with swanky style food, and alcohol, for the price of regular theater concessions... which seemed the perfect way to view Machete, with cerveza in hand!

So the movie?
Well, anyone who was a fan of RR and QT's Grindhouse were a shoe-in to rush to Machete, with it's fake trailer being one of the highlights of that glorious cinematic effort. And not just because the idea of Danny Trejo as a Mexi-CAN out to settle a score via no-holds-barred violence is a slam dunk, but also, to see just how Rodriguez builds a movie around something originally crafted as a two minute highlight reel, with awesome cast (plus mondo additions) in tow.

And well, if nothing else, the frenetic opening prologue scene to the film, is a glorious note perfect accomplishment. From there though, things quickly settle into a much more measured and expansive direction. Therefore, the opening is a bit of a tease, giving us the visceral pace that never let up in Planet Terror, along with the faux grindhouse projection, only to diminish that flavor, once the opening title hits. Leaving us with a more pure representation of the genre, and not the everything all at once thrill ride send-up we perhaps expected. All the gore-tastic fight sequences are there, all the cool characters, the bug nuts casting, the raunchy flourishes, the demented cool of unhinged storytelling where nothing is sacred or out of bounds (shooting pregnant women, swinging from intestines, nailing Cheech Marin to a cross)... it's just not strung together faster than you can comprehend here... it's unspooled instead of unleashed.

So, in terms of comparing Machete to it’s Grindhouse/Planet Terror roots, they are quite different, and Machete does not live up to that standard. All that being said, it does come quite close. Mostly where it falters, besides the pacing issues the film has outside the fast start, and a rather furious finish, is it starts to feel a bit too pastiche. As if Rodriguez and his co-writer cousin, are literally connecting the dots between the beats of the original trailer. And whereas in Planet Terror the expansive cast wove in and out of the story with ease, here it feels like there’s too much setup work into weaving each of the very many characters into Machete. It all feels a bit forced... but then Trejo gets cornered, shit blows up, bullets fly, and ass gets thoroughly, creatively kicked! So who fucking cares?!? That's all we really wanna see right? Because, the more I write this review, the more I realize how much I liked this fucking movie!

Sure some of the stunt casting isn’t maximized, and could be dialed up a bit more (Deniro plays it pretty cartoonish... so push him to go more that direction - Seagal is bloated, we know this, have fun with it!), but Jeff Fahey still rocks hard, and Danny Trejo assaults goons with a weed whacker (and hedge shears, and while eating a breakfast burrito)!!!
And sure the ending kind of fizzles and doesn’t surpass the start, but there’s a Gatling gun on a Harley, Michelle Rodriguez in a matching leather bikini and eye patch, and Steven Seagal committing seppuku…
So ya know, you can only put so much syrup on your flapjacks, but I like A LOT on mine... so I would've liked more than a few seconds of Trejo mowing down border vigilantes with a Gatling... I wish "She" didn't wait til the last scene to show up... I want more Lindsay Lohan in a nuns habit licking a revolver!!!!
Is that so wrong?!?
Machete’s not perfect, it’s not even that close, but it is a damn good bad-ass piece of cinema, with plenty of blade to spare! And had we not already had Planet Terror, or had the climax been as sublime as the opening, I'd probably appreciate the film as a whole, a whole lot more.
It definitely goes on my short list of favorites though, but you know, I like my shit big, loud, and crazy... so let's get a reshoot for the climax here (or edit down about 20 minutes), and set this one off right! :D

I can't wait for MACHETE KILLS, and MACHETE KILLS AGAIN (or maybe SHE KILLS??), but come on RR?!? You know you should have given us a damn preview for the sequel!!!! Sacrilege!!!

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