Thursday, September 2, 2010

Machete- He said

Back in the college days, I had a date (at least I think it was) with a nice lady friend. My problem was what kind of movie to take her to. To my surprise, she decided on Grindhouse; the super risky movie made by pals Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, where they pay homage to old cheap exploitation and grindhouse films of the 70’s. I loved the films, even if I couldn’t appreciate Death Proof at the time, and so did she. What we talked about the most afterwards was the possibility of turning the fake trailers that were played before and in between into the movies. Directors such as Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, and Edgar Wright all contributed to this project. Well, this week we have what is the first of those fake trailer movies with Robert Rodriguez’s Machete. Starring Danny Trejo as his first leading role along with a cast that is wide and varied; this is a fun, gore-filled action movie.

Danny Trejo is the Mexican everyone sees in all movies. He’s like Stephen Tobolowsky in that he is “that guy”, and it’s a shame because, in my opinion, he does a fine job as a leading man. One of the things that I really dug is that it kept with messy film look that Planet Terror and Death Proof had but didn’t over-do it. Seeing as Rodriguez loves Austin, it was great to see so many of the iconic buildings and locations around the city being used. The movie almost reminded me of Shane Carruth’s Primer, in that it contains very adaptive sets and locations, contributing to that rough look and feel of the film. Also the movie does recreate almost everything from the fake trailer as a cool bonus.

The action sequences felt fresh and ridiculously gruesome. Those that don’t have the stomach for a lot of gore might want to stay away. While it is very violent, it’s so ridiculous that you almost can’t help but laugh, either way my warning still stands. The widely varied cast makes this movie a tons of fun. Seeing Jeff Fahey in something other than Lost was refreshing, as well as seeing Steven Seagal in movie that is actually in theaters! Jonesy and I saw it in a packed house and the audience responded to some of the best gags and cameos and it made the experience all that much better, so try seeing it on a Friday night.

A big complaint was the casting of Jessica Alba; she is as cheesy and awful in way that she was the most unbelievable aspect in a totally far-fetched movie and it ruined a bit of the movie for me. Finally, the biggest thing that bothered me was this war/revolutionary tone that the movie takes while commenting on illegal immigration. As a Mexican immigrant with dual citizenship, this has never been an issue for me, but something that I follow closely, and if Robert Rodriguez wanted to comment and do “good” with this movie, I feel this was probably not the way to go. I understand that the context of the revolution and battle talk is directed towards a particularly nasty group of vigilantes, but I feel people might get the wrong impression and put some bad thoughts in their heads.

Overall, Machete is well worth the price of admission, and even if the audience it caters to is a niche one. It succeeds in making a ridiculously bloody action movie full of great scenes with a great cast. Let’s hope that Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving isn’t the last we see of these fake trailers being turned into movies.

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