About these ads

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Robert Rodriguez

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

When a place is called “Sin City”, it’s best not to trust anyone and just leave.

Sort of taking place before the events of the first movie, and sort of not, we follow three-four different story-lines taking place in the most violent, most brutal places of all: Sin City. First, there’s a out-of-towner gambler by the name of Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who definitely has lady luck on his side when it comes to playing a mean game of poker, but ends up realizing that maybe he’s met his match in Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Then, there’s Dwight (Josh Brolin) who, after having reconnected with a former flame of his (Eva Green), finds himself in the middle of a scandal that puts both his life, as well as his lover’s in danger. And lastly, after having the love of her life killed, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) vows for vengeance against the man who is responsible for this, although now, she’s drinking a lot more heavily than ever before. But also, lets not forget that there’s Marv (Mickey Rourke), who is basically roaming around, kicking whoever’s ass deserves a whooping next.

Though it was over-the-top, violent, gratuitous, and incredibly idiotic, there’s something about the original Sin City that still has me smile. Even to this day, if I’m running around through the channels in need of something quick, fun and easy to watch, and if it’s on, I’ll usually sit back and watch as if it’s my first time all over again. It’s also the movie I can turn on around my bros, and safely know that they’ll enjoy it.

I state this fact because I don’t necessarily think I’ll be saying/thinking the same way for this movie. Which isn’t as much of a problem, as much as it is a disappointing. Because if you think about it, we didn’t really need another Sin City; however, it doesn’t hurt to have one because the original was such a lovely surprise of dark, brooding joy. And it would have been totally fine had both Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller decided to go down the same route once again, and apart of me actually wishes they did.

Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.

Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.

Because yes, while this movie may not be nearly as bad as some may have been touting it as, it sure as heck isn’t what a superfan of the first movie would want to expect. Remember all of those senseless acts of over-the-top, cheesy violence in the first one that never seemed to stop showing up out of nowhere? Yeah, they’re here, but rather than being all that fun or exciting, they’re just repetitive and after awhile, just feels like a crutch for Rodriguez to fall back on when he doesn’t trust the numerous stories are keeping our attention as much.

Which, isn’t to say that the stories here aren’t at least interesting to follow, as they jump through one hoop to the next, but honestly, it becomes a bit of a drag after awhile. All of the numerous double-crosses and contrivances of the plot eventually begin to show and it makes you wonder what the real passion behind this movie being made was in the first place. It couldn’t have been to get more and more money from the die hard Frank Miller fans out there, could it have? I don’t think so, but whatever the reason may be, it doesn’t seem like Rodriguez feels all that much strive for this movie to be made and work for anybody who decides to watch it.

And I know I’m getting on Rodriguez’s case a bit too much here, and yes, I know it isn’t all that far. But however, since I saw Machete Kills and gave it some sort of “a pass”, I feel like I’m obliged to go out there and get on his case for sort of ruining another franchise that was chock full of surprise and absolute wonder. Sure, the Machete and Sin City movies aren’t the highest of art, for the most respectable movie-audiences out there, but they’re movies that, when done right, can be an absolute great time because they’re so crazy, so idiotic, and so self-knowing about their own stupidity, that anything goes, so long as the movies themselves stay as fun and as awesome of a time as they originally promise being.

With this second Sin City film, it feels like there’s not nearly as much craziness, or fun, to really make up for most of the problems with the script, its stories, or even its characters. It’s just something of a blank slate that feels like it wants to go somewhere, somewhere rather insane beyond our wildest and zaniest dreams, but for some reason, just doesn’t. This is a feeling I’ve had with most of Rodriguez’s movies and I feel like it’s time that he nuts up, or shuts up. Meaning, give me an absolute, balls-to-the-walls B-movie that doesn’t give a hoot about what people think or say about it – or, just doesn’t promise me anything like that at all in the first place, especially if you’re not going to follow through on your promises.

To be safe, just make another Spy Kids movie. Nobody seems to be complaining about them.

Or, the people that shouldn’t be, at least.

That said, the ones who mostly get out of this movie, Scott-free is the ensemble who are either as charming as one can be in a goofy noir, or downright weird that they feel perfectly suited for the material they’re given. Either way, they do a fine job, it’s just that it feels like, in the hands of a much better, more dedicated director, they could have done absolute wonders, like mostly everybody did in the first movie.

Returning as everybody’s favorite, and something of the iconic superhero for this franchise as a whole, is Mickey Rourke as Marv and shows us that, underneath that over-load of costume and make-up, lies a true talent that can still breath some dimensions into his character; even if that character is literally a cartoon. Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Jessica Alba and a few others return and show why they were picked for this material in the first place, even if there is a slight feeling that maybe Alba could have been given less to do. And it’s not to rain on her parade and talk out against her skills as an actress – it’s more that her character is so poorly-written, that the only positive aspect to her character is that she, occasionally, will talk to the spirit of Bruce Willis’ character. He’s another one that shows up every so often, but really, he doesn’t need to be here; he’s just taking up space, really.

Mean, heartless, brutal and full of weapons. My kind of women.

Mean, heartless, brutal and stocked with all sorts of toys. My kind of women.

As for the new bloods coming into this franchise, most of them are fine, although, like I said before: One can only wonder what would have happened to them, had there been a far more driven director involved. Josh Brolin plays Dwight (who has a new face, hence why no Clive Owen in the role) and is fine playing this troubled character who wants to always do the right thing, but knows that in a place like Sin City, that’s easier said, then actually done. Brolin’s good here as the gruff dude that can kick ass, but he doesn’t have as much of a personality as Owen did. Maybe it’s a British thing?

Another new addition to this franchise is a favorite of mine (so back off, ladies!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, a known gambler who sometimes is a little too in over his head. It’s cool to see JGL challenging himself in something this stylized and strange, but honestly, if you take his character, or even his whole story-arch, out altogether, there would probably be no notable change found whatsoever. Although there is a lovely bit featuring Christopher Lloyd as a degenerate doctor, his story lacks any real muster that makes you want to keep watching him, or this Johnny character as is. So if he was taken out, there wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the fact that this is a JGL and the guy’s known to put in great work. So give him something better to do, dammit!

And last, but certainly not least is Eva Green as Ava, the dame people are “killing for”. Green, with what seems to be the second movie in a row this year (300: Rise of An Empire being the first), brings a certain level of camp that doesn’t necessarily make the movie better, but at least makes her scenes feel like they’re genuinely pulsing with some sort of energy. Add on top of that the fact that she’s naked practically every other scene she shows up in, then you’ve got the most memorable performance of a cast filled with huge, reliable names.

For better, and I guess, for worse.

Consensus: Without nearly as much heart or as much of the shock-factor as there was in the first, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is, for the most part, occasionally fun, but never jumps over that edge of making it total and complete, B-movie joy. Much like the original was.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, I'd need a new pair of shorts.

If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, a new pair of shorts would totally be needed.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

About these ads

Four Rooms (1995)

People will do anything for a tip.

It’s the first day on the job for Ted the bellhop (Tim Roth), and from what it seems like, it won’t be a very pleasant one. Early on, he gets told the ins, the outs, the what to do’s, and the what not to do’s on the job by an aging, supposed retiring bellman that gives him an idea of what he should expect taking people’s luggage up to their room, answering their phone calls and the most important of all, waiting on them for a tip. So with this all out of the way, Ted gets ready for one of the biggest and most hectic nights of the year, New Year’s Eve. And what do you know it? Ted’s night ends up being an eventful one, albeit one that he finds his life threatened on more than a few occasions. But it’s all in the good name of a sizable tip, right?

Like with most anthology films, the idea here seems smart and somewhat nifty: Get at least four low-key, up-and-coming indie film-makers, give them a budget and give them free reign to basically just strut their stuff for no less than 20 minutes each, slap the Miramax logo on it, and release it to the mass-audience. Seemed like a really promising idea that could have worked wonders for all of the film-makers involved, but somehow, it more or less just ended up killing two promising careers, while just injuring two others.

Take a wild guess as to whose career’s were killed, and which ones were just injured for a short while. Not that hard I guess, but let me just tell you through my usual-way of reviewing anthology films; taking it one-by-one, segment-by-segment. Shall we?

Random twitching example #2.

Random twitching example #2.

1. The Missing Ingredient – This is the one that starts it all off, and that’s not a good thing at all. In short, this segment is easily the worst. It made me feel like I made a huge mistake actually even bothering with this movie. Director Allison Anders gives us a cool idea in which a coven of witches who need male sperm to complete their ritual and just so happened to choose Ted as he comes stumbling on in. While the ground-work was there for this to be not just hilarious, but all sorts of weird and cooky, in a fun-way, Anders doesn’t even bother going anywhere with this. Sure, for horny dudes, there is plenty of hot boobage to be seen, but for anybody who wants a little bit of craziness mixed with their covens, will be most likely disappointed as Anders seemed to really drop the ball with this, and not know what’s considered “funny”, and what’s considered “boring.” Easily the worst out of the four, but it’s not like the next one is a peach neither.

2. The Wrong Man – Things seem to get a bit better with this segment, however, not by much. Director Alexandre Rockwell keeps things small and subdued, but not anywhere near being considered “sweet”, as this whole segment just meanders endlessly, without ever really moving outside of the actual hotel room it’s placed in. The whole story is in which a married-couple (Jennifer Beals and David Proval) basically plays this little sex-game where he pretends that she’s been screwing around him and picks out whatever poor fellow just so happens to stroll through that door, interrogate him, wave a gun in front of his face, take his pills, and basically, just scare the shorts off of him. There are moments in this segment where the wheels seemed to be turning and there seemed to be some moments of promise, but once the segment is all said and done with, I couldn’t help but feel like it went on a bit long. Especially once Beals’ character just started yelling out any term for the word “penis” she could think of right away. Sure, it made me laugh (probably my first one), but it was only because it was a random moment of creative spontaneity that the first segment didn’t seem to have.

Thankfully though, it does get better from here and begins to feel like something worth watching, rather than the first two awful-pieces.

3. The Misbehavers – Antonio Banderas plays a tough and sinister father-of-two that wants to take his wife on a night out on the town, in hopes of getting laid and therefore, igniting the spark in their marriage that probably sizzled-out once kids came along and screwed everything up. But, knowing that these same kids can’t come out with them, he decides to intimidate Ted intoi watching over them, and making sure that they “don’t misbehave”. It seems easy, and with the price for this little mission being $500, it seems even easier. However, with these two kids, nothing is quite as easy as it seems and eventually, the room itself starts to smell and once that happens, all hell breaks loose. So yeah, the plot-line for this segment is dumb, but with Robert Rodriguez behind-the-wheel, it’s anything but. Actually, that’s not true. It is still dumb, but in a “fun” way in which one can only associate with Rodriguez and his style of film-making. It starts off simple and small, but as time goes on, and Rodriguez really gets the brain working, you can see just how much havoc he can throw on top of the other and once all is said and done and we get the final-line of this segment, you know that, if anything, the whole movie was it at least worth it for just this whole time-span of 15-20 minutes. It doesn’t even matter if the last segment blows, all we know is that this is the segment people should be wanting to see and talk about.

When you do have a movie in which "the chick from Say Anything" gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something "to watch".

When you do have a movie in which “the chick from Say Anything” gets and stays topless for more than five minutes, I guess you have something “to watch”.

But of course, the last segment is done by none other than Quentin Tarantino himself and, as we all know, the guy has a bit of a thing for stealing the spotlight of movies, and his segment here is no different.

4. The Man from Hollywood – The plot-line is simple: Ted stumbles upon a bunch of fast-cat, Hollywood big-shots (Bruce Willis being among them), who con him into doing something for a hefty price, as idiotic as the act may be. Oh, and there’s a bet involved somehow, someway. Basically, being that this is a Tarantino-segment, you can expect a lot of witty lines that involved pop-culture, violence, sex and a bunch of other talk that doesn’t sound like it’s coming from actual human-beings who grace us with their presence on the same planet we call Earth. That said, considering the rest of the film that came before this, it’s a blast to watch, keeps you interested, laughing, a bit tense and overall, entertained as if Tarantino was the one they really were leaning on for this to work and that’s exactly what they got. In hindsight, it’s not the best thing that Tarantino has ever done or touched (especially when also speaking of his acting), but when you place his segment against the three others, his definitely comes out on-top and a reason to see this whole film. Although you do have to get through two shitty segments, and one pretty good one.

And through all of these segments, there’s none other than Tim Roth himself acting his ass off through them, which is not a good thing. For some odd reason or another, Roth is given the order to carry-out this overly-used, spastic-twitch of his that carries on throughout most of his segments in which he stammers and bumbles more than Hugh Grant on a bad day. It gets old real quick and just becomes random, as if there was no other reason to make this character interesting than to just have him do and say all of these odd things. Roth tries, but he can’t help but suffer due to doing whatever it was that he was told. However, when he’s told to dial it down a notch and just let the segments for speak themselves, is usually when he’s at his most watchable, as well as the same could be said for the movie itself. And mostly, this occurs during the last two segments. Strange how things work themselves out, right?

Consensus: If you counter in the fact that only two of the four segments in Four Rooms work, then I guess you could consider this “watchable” in the least bit. But, then again, if you want to save yourself some precious time, effort and/or money, then just watch the last two segments somewhere on YouTube. I’m sure you’ll be able to find them somewhere.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Talk about a party I'd like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don't do anything I wouldn't do! Woo hoo!

Talk about a party I’d like to involved with on New Years Eve. Speaking of which, Happy New Years Eve everyone. Get out, get trashed, but most of all, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! Woo hoo!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Machete Kills (2013)

CIA, step up your game and legalize this man! Along with weed, of course.

Machete (Danny Trejo) is back, and this time, it’s the U.S. President (Carlos Estevez)’s orders! Machete gets the order to get out deep in the deserts of Mexico, and stop a schizophrenic madman (Demián Bichir) from launching a deadly missile aimed at Washington, D.C., which may also run a bit deeper than just him and connect all the way back to the U.S., where rich billionaire Voz (Mel Gibson) may be partaking in some shady dealings as well. Shady dealings like, say, taking a trip to outer space. However, once people catch wind of this news that Machete is alive, well, and running all around, then somebody puts a bounty on his head, which many, many colorful and dangerous characters get involved with. Problem is, they don’t realize that Machete don’t text, don’t Tweet, and he sure as hell don’t die. Remember that.

Though I never got to reviewing it for you fine specimens, the first Machete kicked all tons of ass and was every bit as insane, as dumb, and as idiotic as I would have expected a Robert Rodriguez movie to be, and then some. Essentially, it was a one-joke movie, with a one-joke premise, but it never lost its steam and always continued to make me laugh, get grossed out (in a good, exploitative way that worked well with the material) and overall, just have a total and complete ball. It helped that that movie had a star-studded cast that continued to show more and more familiar faces as it went along, and it also helped that Rodriguez himself realized that he was making a piece of B-movie heaven, so of course he just had to run with it; with a bigger budget of course.

"Machete don't do blondes. But, there's always exceptions to certain rules."

“Machete don’t do blondes. But, there’s always exceptions to certain rules.”

However, what worked so well for me with that movie, seems to have suddenly run a bit dry here, even despite the bigger cast, the somewhat bigger budget, and the even bigger action scenes that Rodriguez really seemed to throw all of his time, money and effort into. For some reason, it never feels like it’s going for that one-joke and trying to spin it around as much as possible anymore; instead, the movie feels like it has almost way too much plot, way too many twists and way too much time spent on meaningless characters that obviously are around to show you how wacky the movie is, but ultimately, just take up precious time and space that could have been used more for people getting their heads chopped off. And yes, that’s the type of stuff I want to see more of in a Machete movie, because it’s done for the sole purpose that it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Here, it just seemed like Rodriguez had so many more ideas and subplots he wanted to play around with, and yet, couldn’t keep his curious hand away from showing them as much as attention as Machete should get. Because, let’s face it, this is Machete’s movie, this is his story and this is his time to shine. So, when you take that away from him and focus more on the meandering plots/characters of the movie that wouldn’t make a lick of difference to the whole shebang in the long run, then you’re robbing us, the audience, as well. People who want to see this want to see Machete do crazy stuff like spin around on a helicopter-blade and chop people’s heads off, or get banged by some of the sweetest honeys around. We don’t want to see a whole subplot that concerns a hitman taking off his disguise face, and putting on a real one, all of the time. And even if that subplot was to be shown, at least do it in less than a minute or so, only to not take away from Machete himself; aka, the character that makes this movie work, everytime they focus on him and whatever sick, sadistic and violent thing he does next.

There’s just so much fun to be had with this character, and it makes you wonder why somebody, especially some nut-job like Rodriguez would want to take that away from him. Give him to Quentin! He’ll set him straight, give him his cake, and allow him to eat it, too. But not just a piece, the WHOLE, FREAKIN’ THING.

But, no matter what, it cannot be denied that Danny Trejo is the heart and soul behind this character, and despite the reality of the matter that he’s older than most of the chiseled-out freaks from the Expendables movies, you still believe him as a wholly unbelievable character. Machete is a straight-man to all of the nonsense happening around him, and with that on his plate, Trejo owns the role and seems to never lose his comedic-timing. It’s obviously not as eventful to see Trejo in this role like it was the first time around, mainly due to the fact that he’s dipped his pen into a few no-budget movies in the years since, but it’s still awesome to see him play Machete, and do what he does best: Kill the fuck out of people.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

And while I do stand by what I said about Rodriguez centering too much of his attention on the supporters more so here than he did in the last film, it can’t be denied that each and every one of these big names are having the time of his/her life. Some peeps from the first are back like Tom Savini, Michelle Rodriguez, William Sadler, and Jessica Alba, in a role that probably gives her as much time on-screen as she does: No less than 5 minutes. Since she’s up on the screen for such a short time, she is ultimately replaced by Amber Heard playing an undercover agent, posing as Miss San Antonio and seems like she fits in quite well with Rodriguez crazed world of drug dealers, hookers, sadists, madmen billionaires, and total crazies.

And that’s just his dinner table at Thanksgiving! Woo-hoo! I got a million of ‘em!

But no seriously, she fits in mighty fine, as well as plenty of other new, fresh faces like Sofia Vergara, Demián Bichir, in a very against-type that he rolls with and never loses the fun-factor, Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, and the best of them all, none other than Mr. Jew-hater himself, Mel Gibson. This is one of those cases where it seems like Mel is only taking what he can get at the moment, but if that is the case, then so be it, because every chance this guy gets to join in on the fun, he does, and with plenty of energy and pizzazz. He chews the scenery like nobody’s business, hasn’t seemed like he’s lost his comedic-timing in a million years, and mostly keeps the film afloat, even when it becomes too obvious that it’s gone absolutely everywhere it could have gone, and then some. And yes, I am talking about somewhere like space, but that is a different story and movie, for a different day.

Consensus: No doubt about it that Machete Kills will offer all of the same types of B-movie craziness and fun that the first one gave us, but a little bit more of scaling-back on its numerous strands of plot, character, and ideas, would have definitely helped this been a better time. Oh well, at least I got an autograph from Robert Rodriguez himself out of the deal. At least there is that.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Can't get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I'm sort of like Jesus. Ain't that right, JEWS?!?!?"

“Can’t get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I’m sort of like Jesus. Ain’t that right, JEWS?!?!?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Jack Sparrow vs. Zorro? Yeah, I wish.

El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) who continued to look for work in any Mexican town he ran into is back once again, but this time, he isn’t looking for work, work finds him! Once a crazed and demented CIA agent (Johnny Depp) tracks him down, El Mariachi is called upon the task of saving Mexico’s president, while also killing the man who slayed both his daughter and gal-pal (Salma Hayek). El Mariachi has no problem with this since he’s always down for a nice plot of revenge, especially when he has his guitar and case around, but once the plot thickens and more people get involved with this crime, then it becomes abundantly clear that El Mariachi may have to bite off more than he can chew. Which, once again, he’s fine with, but isn’t that such a bitch?

I’ve basically gotten through all of Robert Rodriguez’s “Mexican trilogy”, and although I’ve been looking forward to seeing these flicks for quite some time, I have to say: I’ve been left very, very disappointed. Now, this obviously isn’t going to be a whole review on the trilogy, but please just bear with me for a second here. Though some may definitely disagree with me, I feel like Robert Rodriguez has definitely fallen-off the deep end as of late and has only shown that with time, and more money, that you can only become your own worst enemy once it all goes to your head.

Take this movie for instance: You have the simple plot of El Mariachi called on to do complete a mission that consists of him killing people with that six-stringed killer of his, which is, as we all know, nothing new or special, but why fix what wasn’t broken in the first place, eh? Well, then you get all of these bigger stars that just so happen to want to be apart of your movie, and then, all of a sudden, you have a much bigger story, with more characters, and in essence, less time spent on the man this trilogy was all about in the first place: El fuckin’ Mariachi.

"You can't be my hero.............BABY!"

“You can’t be my hero………….BABY!”

I read somewhere that Rodriguez meant for this story to be all jumbled, convoluted, and over-stuffed with more subplots and characters, but after awhile, it becomes a nuisance to have to pay attention to what every character says, why they say it, and decide in your own mind who’s a baddie, who’s a goodie, and who doesn’t really mean much to the plot, but is just there because he/she is a familiar face that Rodriguez just so happened to get his grasps on. Some of this may sound like I’m whining about how Rodriguez didn’t dumb the material down for me and tell me everything that I needed to know right off the bat, however, I feel like that same simplicity I’m thinking of worked well for the other two, so why wouldn’t it had here?

Some reason, I just couldn’t get so involved with this story to the point of where I felt like all hell was going to break loose, and I was actually going to give a care in the world about it. Instead, I just sort of sat there and watched, with interest, but yet, also a slight sense of boredom in the pit of my mind as I realized that I was just watching this movie, just to watch it. I wasn’t grasping anything about it, what Rodriguez was doing, or what any of the characters were saying. I was just watching it to watch it, and hopefully be entertained by the action scenes; which I was, but even by then it felt like an after-thought in Rodriguez’s mind. If you can give me something to work with, no matter how ridiculous the material is, then I’m all game; but if you play around too much and spin yourself in your own circle of confusion, then I just can’t give a single lick about it, and that’s what happened here.

However, to keep away from making this movie sound like it’s utter crap, I do have to say that some of it did have me intrigued, if only because I liked to see how far Rodriguez came as a filmmaker. Not only did it seem like he had a big budge that he used to its fullest extent, but it also seemed like he could have gone on longer with it and really fleshed it out more, adding more excitement to the final product, and even in a way, making the whole story more cohesive. Why Rodriguez didn’t see this big-budget as an attempt to go on out there and make a movie longer than an-hour-and-a-half, is totally beyond me. I guess he just wanted to confuse the hell out of us because simply: He’s cool like that.

But with a bigger-budget, does come more time for bigger and better names to be apart of your product and this time around, things are a lot better in terms of performances since the heavy-hitters Rodriguez got to come along for the ride, milk the material for all that they got, and then some. Antonio Banderas seems to be having fun playing, once again, El Mariachi, even if it is a shame that he doesn’t quite get as much attention as he definitely should. Also, don’t be fooled with all of the posters and advertising giving Salma Hayek top-billing, because she’s barely in this and even when she is, it’s all through flashbacks. Guess somebody didn’t have the time, or the courage to even bother with another “Mexican movie”. Oh well, her gain, I guess.

Doesn't watch his own movies anyway, so doesn't really matter.

Doesn’t watch his own movies anyway, so doesn’t really matter.

Although I have been bitching and moaning about how El Mariachi doesn’t get as much focus and attention as he should in his own damn movie, I can’t say that I was all that pissed off because the person taking his spot was none other than Johnny Depp himself who, in a very rare role, plays a weird guy, who also seems like he could be a human-being. Yup, believe it or not, Depp can actually play real characters, who have real emotions and feelings, and even though that’s somewhat weird to be talking about in a Robert Rodriguez movie, it doesn’t matter because Depp steals the show here and lets everybody know that any movie with him starring in it, is lucky to have him in the first place. He’s fun, quick, punchy, random, a bit of an a-hole, and above all else, an energetic mofo that doesn’t lose his comedic-timing no matter how deep his story-line gets, or how much focus of this movie has been thrown around all over the place. Single handedly, Depp saves this movie and makes me long for the days when he could do a role like this, and everybody would still be surprised and not know what to expect next from his eclectic-self. Nowadays, we’re getting 5 Pirates movies. 5?!?!?!

Like Johnny Depp in this movie, other famous faces show up and have some fun, more some than others. Willem Dafoe as a Mexican drug lord is a random bit of casting, but one that works well in the long run because it’s so bizarre, that you can accept it for what it is; Mickey Rourke plays his disloyal henchman who walks around with a little dog the whole movie, and seems like a real softy underneath the big-guy, macho man outer-exterior; Danny Trejo shows up again in this trilogy, but plays some different character, while also, at the same time, not playing a different character since they were both lethal and deadly sons-of-bitches; and Enrique Iglesias, as random as his casting may be, still does well as one of El Mariachi’s fellow mariahchis, which, I guess is a joke because in case you didn’t know by now, this mofo can sing!

Consensus: It’s probably the dumbest out of the whole trilogy, and yet, that still isn’t enough to make Once Upon a Time in Mexico the best, mostly due to the fact that there’s just too much going on, with too many people, in such a short time-limit, that you just stop caring and beg that Rodriguez decides that he’s bored too and wants to see people’s heads blown-off.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

It's like deja vu, all over again. Except, a bigger budget! Actually, WAY bigger budget!

It’s like deja vu, all over again. Except, a bigger budget! Actually, WAY bigger budget!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

The Faculty (1998)

Don’t we all think our teachers are body-snatching aliens?

A geek (Elijah Wood) finds a small mollusk on a football field. He thinks it’s a new discovery until the school’s teachers start behaving very Children Of The Corn ish and become obsessed with the element of water. This is where many of the teenagers band together, all cliques aside and find out just what the hell is up with their teachers, why they’re acting so funny, and just hope that they don’t become like one of them. Because let’s face it: No high school kid wants to be a teacher, and if they do, they don’t want to be like THEIR high school teacher.

If you look up the term “slasher movie” in the 90’s dictionary, you’ll probably find a picture and a short bio of writer Kevin Williamson, who basically re-invented the horror movie franchise back in then with both Scream and Scream 2, among others. Then, if you look up “movie genius” in the same dictionary, you’ll probably see a picture and a short bio of Quentin Tarantino, but a synonym would probably be Robert Rodriguez. Putting them together for one, big horror movie seems like a pretty awesome idea full of wacky, zany fun and originality, right?

Only due to a supposed alien-invasion are they even considering being around one another.

Only due to a supposed alien-invasion are they even considering being around one another.

Well, it saddens to me say this, but disappointment ensues. But how?

In case you haven’t been able to tell, this is a lot like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers mixed with the kid from The Breakfast Club. It may not sound like the coolest idea ever, but Williamson and Rodriguez at least do a good job of making it entertaining with a couple of actual thrilling moments. This follows the same formula of your usual horror movie with the constant jumps and scares that we have come to know (and sometimes love) with the genre, and they work pretty effectively here. You can’t go into this expecting anything you haven’t ever really seen before, nor can you really expect something that breaks down the whole horror movie conventions, because not only has Williamson done that many times before, but he’s practically perfected it by now that it’s become somewhat predictable. You just got to go into this expecting an exciting and sometimes, funny ride that comes from two geniuses like Williamson and Rodriguez.

However, that’s the exact problem with this flick: Most have come to expect more from these two talents just because of what they have been able to do in the past, and to see them collaborate on a feature that’s anything but awesome, is really sad. With Williamson, we get some moments where these kids talk in a very self-referential about how they know that aliens exist, why they exist, and what they can do just to stop them; as well as a lot of references to other sci-fi flicks out there like Men in Black, E.T., and even The Invasion of the Body Snatchers itself, but it sort of comes off as a cheap rip-off because it’s so damn obvious that Williamson is basing this plot off of those flicks, so he thinks by referencing them in his own movie will give it some sort of gratitude and make it seem like less of a rip-off. So instead, it comes off just exactly like that and it’s sort of one of the golden rules where it doesn’t matter if you reference the film or not, if you are ripping it off, plain and simply, you are ripping it off! Bam!

As for Rodriguez, seeing what he can do with an ordinary story and take it in all of these different twists and turns, it’s pretty disappointing when he gives us a flick that’s not only pretty predictable from start to finish, but one that seems like it could have been directed by anybody. There’s no turtles, no Antonio Banderas, no Mexicano music playing somewhere in the background, and no vampires getting their heads blown off by George Clooney. Nope, instead it just seems like one of those typical horror movies that seems like it could have gone somewhere magical with this premise, but goes exactly to where you would expect it to go, which, given the talent that’s involved behind-the-camera, is a bit of a bummer.

Gosh, teachers!! You're so annoyingly weird!!

Gosh, teachers!! You’re so annoyingly weird!!

What makes this movie a little more appealing is the young cast, and deciphering who has had the biggest star out of all of them is now. And to be honest, I can’t really say since everybody seems like they’re on the somewhat same page. Elijah Wood is here as the typical geek that obviously knows something is up with all of the teachers and faculty at his school, and plays up that whole nerdy act with him very well. However, how many times have we seen this guy do that act before? Yeah, so it does kind of get old after awhile, no matter how early in his career it was. Josh Hartnett, being the stud that he is, plays the slacker who gets held-back, sells drugs and quite possibly gets it on with his very hot teacher. Hartnett’s good for this role and it’s a real wonder why he doesn’t do more with his career, although I feel like the novelty of a young, hot, charming dude has sort of worn-off and been thrown over to Channing Tatum.

Shawn Hatosy plays the jock that just wants to be known for being smart, and he’s pretty good at it. It’s a shame that he hasn’t really been showing up in much, except for Alpha Dog, where he played a total dick, but in a good way. Jordana Brewster plays the bitchy, high school newspaper-editor that seems to always be on everybody’s case about lord knows what, but she’s fine with it and I think she still deserves more hits at drama because I think this gal can really make it work, if given the chance. There’s a whole bunch of other peeps in this cast that’s worth talking about, but really, I don’t want to be here forever so just check the film out yourself and see all of these familiar faces who may, or may not be, showing their faces around anymore.

Consensus: Though it can be a lot of fun with some goofy references to other horror flicks that inspires it, The Faculty never fully comes through on its own as an original or different kind of horror thriller, and more as a carbon-copy of the movies it can’t help but crack jokes at and about.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay, well I don't think he counts as anything.

Okay, well I don’t think he counts as anything.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

Desperado (1995)

Once you accept the money, then it’s time to sell your soul and join the mainstream.

Taking place after the first one with a new cast but relatively same story, a gun-toting mariachi (Antonio Banderas) travels to a Mexican town in search for the man who killed his lover and shot his right-hand, the same hand he used to be able to make sweet, sweet music with. After the mariachi shakes things up in town, the local drug lord (Joaquim de Almeida) wants him dead and, if at all possible, brought to him so that he can be the one to do the righteous act of slaying. And so, the rivalry between the two heats up with the drug lord getting more and more paranoid, and our mariachi gets more and more cornered by all sorts of crooks, yet, is also able to find solace in the loving and caring arms of a gal who runs the local library (Salma Hayek). However, there’s something about this chicky that strikes the mariachi as strange. Could it be that she is in-debt to this local drug lord, or maybe, just maybe, is it that they share something a little more personal than just strictly doing business?

After he hit the big bucks and fame with his shoestring budget debut, El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez found himself prime and ready for big-budget, Hollywood filmmaking where not only would he be able to call the shots anyway he would want, but with anybody he wanted to. But as we all know, once some little nobody all of a sudden makes it big and gets his hands on whatever he wants, then things sort of go downhill from there. And to add insult to injury, we all know that simply “remaking” your first movie, with a bigger budget and cast on-display, is an even more drastic move on anybody’s part, especially Rodriguez’s.

Where the hell's the turtle?

I guess Rodriguez was just “too big” for the turtle anymore.

I guess you can’t blame Rodriguez too much for wanting to play it safe and practically do what he did no less than 3 years before, because even though his name was out there for the whole world to take notice to, the guy was still only 27 years old. And for a guy that young to be making movies this big, it has to be a pretty overwhelming feeling. I couldn’t imagine it, but who the hell am I, right? However, fear doesn’t excuse laziness, and that’s exactly the type of problem Rodriguez runs into with this movie.

It isn’t that the movie’s necessarily boring because it goes over everything that happened in El Mariachi, it’s more because Rodriguez doesn’t know how to give his story more substance in order for us to care. Instead, he just gives us piss-poor character-development that doesn’t do much for the actors in terms of what they have to work with, and also gives us too many scenes where people are doing more talking, than actual shooting, killing, or anything violent of a sort. Which is fine, as long as you can hold somebody’s interest with actual interesting, entertaining dialogue, which is not what Rodriguez gives this movie or the characters. Most of them seem to just ramble on and never go anywhere, except only to move the plot from one gun-battle sequence, to the next.

But then again, those gun-battle sequences I’m talking about, are pretty damn fun and flashy when they happen, and probably shows Rodriguez’s most inspired pieces of filmmaking to-date. So many wild and wacky stunts that defy human or scientific logic; so much blood that you could practically fill a pool with; and better yet, an unpredictable feel to each and every scene where you feel as if any character you see, could practically be offed at any given second. For instance, without giving too much away, a couple of characters who are introduced for a good and solid 2 minutes, suddenly bite the dust out of nowhere, which keeps you on-edge and ready to see what happens next with this plot, and the characters that inhabit it. This is where the fun of the movie really lies, and it’s what we have all come to know and love about Rodriguez, even if most of his films seem to only consist of these scenes, if done in a more over-the-top, balls-crazy way. But even then, they’re still fun and exciting to watch, and bring out the best in him. Hence why I can’t wait to see Machete Kills.

Hey, at least there's no Australian-accent.

Hey, at least there’s no Australian accent present.

And as much as I may get on Rodriguez’s case for taking the easy way out and doing nothing more than “remaking” his first movie, I have to give the guy credit because he found a suitable-enough cast to do it with and keep me interested by. Antonio Banderas was such a perfect choice to replace Carlos Gallardo (who still shows up as a fellow mariachi and band member to Banderas’ character) because he’s able to give us more substance to a character that feels like it needed none, yet, we’re still okay with seeing. Banderas has the look of an action-hero, that’s as tough, nasty, and vengeful as you can get, but also displays a certain heart and sweetness to him that gives you the idea that yes, this dude is not some cabron you want to mess with, but does have a heart when you get right down to the core of him. And the fact that Banderas did all of his own insane stunts, gives this movie even more of a feel of sincerity, despite it still being outrageously crazy and off-kilter at times. However, it also proves that Banderas is the hunk of a Mexican man-meat that almost any lady faints over. They just have to make sure that Mrs. Melanie Banderas isn’t around, or else catfights will most likely ensue.

The rest of the cast is good, even if they don’t get the chance to sink their tooth into their respective roles quite as much, or as well as Banderas does. Joaquim de Almeida plays Bucho, the drug lord who wants this mariachi dead, and displays a ruthless killer you don’t want to mess up a deal with. He and Banderas create a nice rivalry full of suspense and thrills, despite only sharing the same screen for no less than 5 minutes, and even then, it’s still pretty damn intense! Salma Hayek is fine as the gal that the mariachi takes a liking to, and vice versa, even if she doesn’t get much to do. Also, who the hell is going to believe that Salma Hayek not only reads books every single day, but also owns and continues to keep a library up and running? Sorry, just seems unbelievable to me. And there are quite a bit of nice cameos to be seen here, especially ones from people you’d know to see in a Rodriguez movie. Fellow pals like Steve Buscemi, crazy Quentin Tarantino, Danny Trejo, and even Cheech Marin all show up, and do okay jobs with what they have to do; which still isn’t much, but it’s enough to make us happy to see their shiny faces. Okay, maybe not Trejo’s, but you get my drift.

Consensus: Exactly what you’d expect a big-budget, longer, and more attractive remake of El Mariachi to be like, except only that Desperado doesn’t feature anything much more interesting to watch other than a couple of fun action scenes, and alright performances from the cast.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Cool girls can walk away from explosions, too! Don't you forget!

Cool girls can walk away from explosions, too! Don’t you forget!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

El Mariachi (1992)

Money doesn’t matter, just be weird. When you do that, you’ll always be a winner, as well as crazy Quentin’s bestie.

A wandering mariachi (Carlos Gallardo) walks into a small Mexican town searching for any piece of work he can find. He walks around from drink-hole to drink-hole, and finds himself getting denied, time and time again. However, he also finds himself on-the-run when a bunch of gangsters mistaken him for another man, dressed in all black, walking around with a guitar case; except that dude’s guitar case is filled with all sorts of nifty little toys like guns, knives, and explosives. The poor mariachi just has his guitar in his case, the way it should be. So, for the next 90 minutes, the mariachi runs all over town trying to hide away from these gangsters hoping to make it out alive, and most of all, hoping to end up with the girl (Consuelo Gomez) he falls head-over-heels for completely out of nowhere. But when you throw love around in the midst of violence, the results don’t always come out so pretty.

The countless stories and legends behind the creation of El Mariachi is what makes it so damn unique in the first place. To think that a movie, let alone an action-thriller, could be made for $7,000 is ridiculous, but somehow, Robert Rodriguez made it happen. However, it wasn’t the average, conventional way of saving up money by finding investors, “borrowing” money from mommy and daddy, or going around from festival-to-festival in hopes of finding people that will find your product so worth their while, that they just have to put their money into it. Nope, instead, with Robert Rodriguez being Robert Rodriguez, saved up all of his money by being a human lab-rat for all sorts of medical tests and experiments that he found in the Classified Ads page in his local newspapers. Crazy, I know, but hey, at least it allowed him to save up just enough money to make his own movie. If that isn’t thinking outside the box, then I surely don’t know what the hell is!

Block out at least one letter of a major corporation to avoid copyright lawsuits.-Rule #204 to making a low-budget movie.

“Block out at least one letter of a major corporation to avoid copyright lawsuits.” – Rule #204 to making a low-budget movie.

Now, whether or not you knew about all of that beforehand, it doesn’t matter. Because, what does matter, is that the film got made, found an audience, and was bought for over $1 million dollars, making Rodriguez a household name, and also hero to all of us aspiring filmmakers out there. Even for a guy like me who promises himself day in and day out, that he’ll one day make a film before he turns 30, and most likely for anybody else out there who shares the same hopes and dreams as well.

And with that idea in your mind, the movie works on a whole different level. Whenever you’re watching a single frame in this flick, you’re just automatically thinking about, “How the hell did he do with that with such a small-budget?”, or even like, “I know how he did that. Gosh, it’s gotta be so easy to make a movie!!”. The whole movie plays out like this because you can tell that Rodriguez really put his heart, mind, body, and soul (literally) into this movie. He wanted to make the movie, he wanted to show the world what he could offer, and he did it all with what little resources he had, or in some cases, didn’t have. With that idea in your mind, the movie works as a piece of inspiration to all film makers and shows you that yes, even you, the poor film graduate who owes more than $15,000 to anybody you’ve ever shook hands with over the years, can make a movie with whatever you have in your pockets.

But inspiration can only go so far, and you have to look at the movie the way it is now, in the year 2013, and I have to say: It doesn’t hold-up quite as well.

"Better be the Fender Stratocaster I ordered."

“Better be the Fender Stratocaster I ordered.”

I get it though, Rodriguez obviously didn’t have a lot of money to work with here so he did whatever he could, however he could, with whatever he could, but a cheap movie can only entertain somebody for so long, that is until they start to see the cracks and strings show. What I mean by that is that the movie definitely has this over-the-top, over-zealous feel to it. It definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, has a bit of a fun, and doesn’t let you forget that you’re watching the work of somebody who made something with such little resources. I was fine with that because it made me feel like, hell, I could have even made the movie had I lived in Mexico and been able to stand all of that heat and sweat. But, once the movie starts to get serious and pay more attention to its plot, then it sort of gets tone-deaf, as if Rodriguez paid a little bit too much attention to what he was TRYING to do, and didn’t realize what he COULD do, if that makes any sense.

By the end of the movie, this is fairly evident. Once you start to see that the plot’s tension has picked-up and the emotions are supposed to be running wild, you realize that Rodriguez loses a bit of his funny, wacky edge that he worked so well with in the first hour or so. That’s what the kept the movie alive because it was knowing, while also inventive in its own weird way. That’s why when it gets serious, the energy and creativity the movie kept on continuing to show us and have us feel, gets sucked-out dry and leaves us cold. Obviously we all knew that Rodriguez would make a revamped, bigger-budget version of this story no less than 3 years later, but back then in ’92, I bet if you didn’t know that valuable piece of information, the movie probably would have been just a worth while attempt at a movie that tried to defy all the odds, but instead, ended up becoming its own worst enemy. Can’t say I hated the movie for that, but it definitely left me with a sour taste in my mouth, although I definitely still had that urge to want to make my own movies. That’s why the movie worked the most, if for nothing else.

Consensus: The legend behind the making of El Mariachi is probably what makes it so interesting and inspiring to most people out there, especially the aspiring film makers who are looking for that big-break quite like Robert Rodriguez was at the time. But however, the legacy it holds behind, doesn’t quite do the movie itself enough justice to really make you want to watch it again, and again, and again.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

A mariachi and his guitar. Aka, LOSER.

A mariachi and his guitar. Aka, DWEEB.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Planet Terror (2007)

Muscle cars > zombie apocalypse.

Not all small towns get along, but especially this one that seems to be located somewhere in the heart of Texas. And just to make matters worse, they’re thrown up against the wall and supposed to fight off a ward of zombies after an odd, toxic biochemical is released onto them. Why? They don’t quite know yet, except for maybe the government may be involved. However, they can’t, and they won’t worry too much about it because they have bigger fish to fry. Or should I just say: Bigger “zombies” to fry? Yeah, it’s corny, but that’s what I’m going for!

The idea of having a chick having an M4 carbine assault-rifle for a leg is probably one of the dumber one’s out there, even as cool as it may sound. That is, unless, you’re a character in a Robert Rodriguez movie, then it makes it perfect sense because you’re just another part of his crazy, insane puzzle that never seems to end inside that guy’s head. And that’s not a complaint at all. I like what Rodriguez brings to the table, whether it be weird, straight-laced, or something new he’s trying out. However, when he’s supposed to be back in his “original form” and is going up against non other than Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself; he can’t help but feel tame in comparison.

Its just what happens when you go toe-to-toe with an even bigger nut, if that’s even imaginable.

"Walking Dead who?"

Walking Dead who?”

But, despite whoever you put Rodriguez up against in a movie, no matter what: The guy always knows how to have fun with his stories and direction, and it is no different here. It’s obvious that this is a mesh between the George A. Romero zombie-flicks, and the eerie, horror movies from John Carpenter, but it seems like Rodriguez is doing more than just an homage, and actually expanding on his own story, with his own quirks and trademarks thrown in there for a great deal as well. The guy lets loose on what we all know and love about him; people get shot-up to oblivion, body-parts come flying out of nowhere, corny-lines are exchanged, and distorted colors seem to make everything on-display trippier. Basically, everything you expect to see from a “Robert Rodriguez zombie flick” happens and is seen here. For that reason, it’s very fun and will keep your eyes alive on the screen for quite some time, even when it seems like Rodriguez is maybe going a little too “nutso” with his own material. Then again, he’s a film maker and he’s allowed to, so who the hell am I to judge?

But what I think ruins Rodriguez and his flick as a whole, is that when it’s stacked-up to Tarantino’s Death Proof, it really pales in comparison. Now, in a way, Death Proof and Planet Terror are both different from one another. Death Proof is a bit serious with its subtle-approach and as a result, feels very down-played, whereas Planet Terror goes absolutely gung-ho with it’s story and never loses it’s pace; Proof is very dialogue-heavy, with lines that are as witty as you’re going to get, whereas Terror has some of the cheesiest lines you’re ever going to hear, but it’s on-purpose; Proof is more about the tension, dialogue, and characters, whereas Terror is all about the action, blood, and violence. See, as much as the two stories may have in common with one another, you can’t help but notice how different they are as well. Whether or not that was deliberate on both of these guy’s parts is totally left up in the air, but I think that’s where this flick hits a hard-place. Or at least Rodriguez does, anyway.

Maybe because I’m speaking from my own point-of-view, my problems with this flick may be a bit biased, but when it comes right down to it: Tarantino is just more talented than Rodriguez in the long-run. Some may call that a no-brainer and some may not, but what I do know is that I feel like Tarantino has a lot more resilience when it comes to the movies that he wants to do and why, where as Rodriguez is a little too random and sporadic. Also, Tarantino has never done a Spy Kids movie so maybe that’s where the sake of the argument lies as well. But I digress.

So yes, both sort of have the same styles in how they let their movies play-out and even tell their own stories as well, but in the end, Tarantino just has something more to him that’s attention-grabbing and as interesting, as anything that Rodriguez has ever really done. Now, I’m not saying that anything Rodriguez has done in his career isn’t good by any means necessary, but Tarantino just has something about him and his movies that make you want to go out there, start writing on a piece of paper, and start making your own movies. In a way, Rodriguez’s films can do that as well, but Tarantino is the automatically first guy I think about when it comes to inspirations/favorite directors.

Fairly uncomfortable I'd suppose, considering he "assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg" situation.

Fairly uncomfortable I’d suppose, considering he “assault-rifle-instead-of-actual-leg” situation.

Aside from that whole “Rodriguez vs. Tarantino” rant, the reason why Planet Terror just isn’t as good as I would have liked for it to have been was because it’s stacked-up against something that Tarantino did, and that movie’s name is Death Proof. Granted, Proof was no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it kept me alive, intrigued, and best of all, entertained the whole time; whereas with this flick, I felt myself, as well as itself, just meander along and didn’t really offer me anything new that I haven’t already seen done 100 times before in other, and sometimes, “better” zombie movies. That’s not to say that this flick isn’t any fun at all, because trust me: It is. Its just is a time-burner for the sake of being a time-burner and there’s nothing else to it other than that. Kind of disappointing when you think how this is by the same guy who did From Dusk Till Dawn, among many others, but I guess that’s what happens when you go up against a guy who’s won Best Original Screenplay more than once.

Where this film does feel a lot like a Tarantino movie, is in it’s characters that are goofy, wild, and fun as hell to watch. Rose McGowan fits perfectly as Cherry, the ex-stripper/wanna-be comedienne, because of her physical presence (her early strip-scene is one of the hottest openings I’ve seen in a long, long time), and her comedic-timing is actually pretty good which makes the whole idea of her being a “stand-up comedienne” seem pretty convincing. Freddy Rodríguez is alright as Wray, Cherry’s bad-boy, and does what he can but comes off as a bit of a stiff dude, without any real presence on-screen. Most of that screen-presence is used very well by steadied-pros like Michael Biehn, Josh Brolin, and even a short, but lovable cameo from Bruce Willis. A pretty stacked-cast and everybody kicks it pretty hard here, but its a real surprise to me that the only one who really comes out on-top is Kurt Russell. And hell, that guys from a whole other movie!

Consensus: Robert Rodriguez injects Planet Terror with his signature style of goofy, over-the-top, wild fun that we all like to see in all of his movies, but can’t really stand-up against Tarantino’s far better, more interesting piece of work known as Death Proof. Sorry Robert. Quentin’s just more of a crazier son of a bitch than you are when it comes right down to it.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Don't worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds."

“Don’t worry, I got enough money to work for 5 seconds.”

To check out my buddy Brandon’s review of the other part of Grindhouse, Death Proof, go on over to http://bkstareviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/death-proof-movie-review.html and let him know what you think! You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

Next time, make sure you spare some change.

Believe it or not, the flick is actually about a homeless man (Rutger Hauer) who hops aboard a train into a city that was once called “Hope City”, but has suddenly turned into a place that they have been now calling, “Scum City”. And scummy, is exactly what it is. People are killing one another, public terror seems to be an on-going feeling throughout the community, and it is all ran by a powerful kingpin named Drake (Brian Downey). The hobo finds himself thrown into all of this madness and violence and decided that he’s had about enough, especially once he’s set his sights on a single-barrel shotgun in a pawn store during a hold-up once all of this vigilante killing begins.

Much to my surprise, after thinking that this flick was non-other than a shitty-attempt at trying to be like the sloppy, “grindhouse” movies that Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino strive so hard to go for every now and then, I actually found out that the director of this flick, Jacob Eisener, won a contest where his trailer would be attached to Grindhouse back in ’07. I’m assuming that the buzz for it was positive because here we had it, almost 4 years later and instead of being a less-than two-minute trailer, we had a movie that was less than a-half-an-hour. Like the movie it was attached to; a neat idea, just bad execution.

"Screw you Wal-Mart employee! I found it first!

“Screw you Wal-Mart employee! I found it first!

And when I say the word “bad”, I don’t mean it in the way that it’s actually going for, I mean in a way that the movie can’t really be enjoyed all that much because it seems to try so damn hard. Listen, I get it: the movie obviously wants to pay homage to those old-school, shit-fests of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s by being deliberately bad and cheap-looking, but all of the time and effort into making that happen, can only go so far. Eventually, it just seems like that’s all Eisener has going for himself and the movie he’s directing. The dude definitely has a vision that’s as grimy and raunchy as they come, but just topping all of that off with random spurs of violence, rape, gore, and mass-killings, only makes it seem like a waste of a smart sense of style.

That’s where the real shame in this movie actually comes; from the fact that Eisener seems like an inspired-choice for this type of movie, but just can’t get it fully together. The look of the movie is odd, but in a good way. Certain colors are distorted to give you the grainy feel of those oldies, but also to place you in a world that’s almost too barbaric to be considered reality. It’s as if once the hobo got on that train and got off of it, he landed in a world inside of his own head where violence, havoc, panic, and crime occurred almost every wee-bit second of the day. It’s a pretty strange atmosphere that Eisener sets up, as well as one that works in a freaky type of way; it just can’t sustain a whole movie, no matter how short or tepid it may be.

Once the killings do occur and blood and gore spills everywhere, the film has some fun with itself and allowed me to join in on it as well. There’s nothing like watching an old man, with a shotgun, going around and killing people that seem to deserve it the most. Films like Super and Kick-Ass, that are somewhat similar to this, are perfect examples of a movie that has it’s fair-share of gory, unabashed violence, but isn’t afraid to go one step further and talk about what it is that it’s portraying on-screen, and why, in a way, it’s the wrong thing to be watching. For some viewers, they may seem arrogant, but for me, it’s a smart move on the parts of the writers, a smart move that the writers nor Eisener seemed to even bother with here. And honestly, not every movie that has blood-soaked moments of pure, vigilante violence needs to do itself justice and have a point, but the way it was portrayed here, in a negative light, it almost felt like we were going to get that one key moment where we finally got a chance to hear and see “what the story was really all about”, but nope, it never happened.

Instead, Eisener and his gang seem more involved and inspired with giving us bits and pieces of violence that literally have us feeling as if we just got hit with the red paint, almost as much as the actors/actresses in the actual movie. Maybe fun for a Saturday night-viewing with a bunch of your drunken-pals, but for somebody who was just lounging out on the couch on a Monday afternoon, it does seem like a bit of a disappointment.

Happens to me all of the time.

Happens to me all of the time.

But somehow, someway, that’s where Rutger Hauer came in and saved the day with his oddly-subtle performance as the Hobo. Hauer isn’t doing anything ground-breaking or original with his role that we haven’t seen done before, especially by him, but at least he gives us more than what it seems like the script is asking for. That scene in the hospital where’s talking to all of the newborns is surprisingly compelling, even as missed-place it may be, being in a movie about a hobo who runs around, wielding a shotgun in hand and killing people. Actually, that’s pretty much all of Hauer’s performance, as it feels like he’s doing a lot better than the script needs for him to do, but being the pro that he is, he knows what’s up and gives it his all. Besides, when’s the last time you saw a flick titled “Starring Rutger Hauer”? Exactly.

And then of course, everybody else in this flick is completely bonkers; aka, exactly what the script is calling on them to do, which means they are neither good nor bad, just here. Brian Downey is crazy as Drake, the head honcho who runs the town and knows what goes into it and comes out of it; the latter of which is mostly made through his disposal. He’s having the most fun out of everybody, as well as Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman, who both play his sons that want to be just like him and commit just as much violence and crime as he does, except they do it to show who’s the better of the two. By the end of the day, nobody is really better than the other, although I was happy to see that Allen from Small Soldiers had a career that didn’t consist of talking to action figures that sounded like Richard Nixon. Poor guy. His career went all downhill after the Gorgonites left.

Consensus: Though it delivers on most of the insanely cheesy, B-movie gore, thrills, chills and splatter-moments that it promised right from the first trailer, Hobo With a Shotgun gets old after a long while and it’s all because the movie seems like a carbon-copy of what Rodriguez and Tarantino have been doing for years, but have pulled off more effortlessly.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"They just had to fuck up now?!?!"

“They just had to fuck up now?!?!”

The Paperboy (2012)

Would have been better, had it been based on the Nintendo games.

Ward, a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother, a college drop-out named Jack (Zac Efron) investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row, named Hillary (John Cusack). However, the only reason they are doing so is because the gal that wants Hillary out, a sexxed-up, piece of work named Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), just so happens to be the apple of Jack’s eyes.

I’ve been hearing a lot of crazy shit about this film and to be honest: it’s all deserved. Everybody knows Lee Daniels because he pulled-off Precious about 4 years ago and it showed him as the type of director that can get a story, no matter how gritty or despicable, and be able to make it in the least-bit inspirational for people. However, it wasn’t his first rodeo, as that honor (and I guess, dishonor) goes to a little, fucked-up movie called Shadowboxer. If you’ve never heard of it, please, don’t go watch it because it’s just an insane piece of work to watch and it will have you question whether or not you’ve just watched two films, from the same director. And if you have heard or have actually seen it, then buckle up, because that exactly the same type of crazy shit you’re going to get here.

As much as Daniels’ debut may have blew huge gonads, this flick is actually more controlled than that one and that’s probably because it’s just wild, without making any excuses for being so. There’s definitely that type of grungy, exploitative look and feel to the movie that has you feel as if you are in the dirty South, around the 60’s when racial-issues were up to the forefront and everybody was just sweating their asses off. If anything Daniels does do right in this flick, it’s at least nail the look and feel of the period that he has it placed-in, but everything else, well, it is sort of all-over-the-place.

Being “all-over-the-place” isn’t really all that much of bad thing if you can do it, and get away with it. The problem isn’t that Daniels can’t do it, because he sure as hell makes sure that everybody knows he can in every, damn second of this movie, but it’s more that he can’t get away with it. He can show two people making each other cum without ever touching one another and just simulating dirty things to one another, but it sticks out like a sore-thumb to everything else, and he can’t get away with it; he can show a girl peeing on a guy because he got stung by a bunch of jelly-fish, but it’s just odd and seems like it was only done for shock-factor, and he also can’t get away with it; and lastly, he can try and bring some issues up about the whole Civil Rights-movement, but when you compare it to the last sequences I just mentioned, it seems uneven, and once again, he can’t get away with it. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar (who apparently wanted to take this material at one time), or even Robert Rodriguez  for that matter, could take this material, do whatever the hell they wanted to with it, and at least make all of the crazy shit and melodramatic stuff gel well enough together, that you almost don’t notice it, but Daniels isn’t one of those directors. He’s just a regular-director that seems like he’s trying his damn near hardest to have us all forget about the over-weight girl story he pulled-off 4 years ago, and try to distract us with insane amounts of sex, whether it actually happen on-screen or just be insinuated. Either way, there’s a bunch of sex that seems to come out nowhere at times.

Look what you've been missing out on, Tom!

Look what you’ve been missing out on, Tom!

Is all of this wackiness and cookiness fun? In a way, yes it is and honestly, as much as I may be ragging on the film right here, I am more or less just hating on Daniels. Not to say that the guy doesn’t know how to make a story move, because he definitely does, but it focuses way too much on the personal lives of these characters and not in an exciting or electric way either, it’s just a boring, way-too-dramatic way that comes off as trying too hard. We never really care for these characters, the case they continue to push to the side, or what their relationships are with each other and how that affects one another, and I guess that was the point. Daniels is just giving us a bunch of dirty people that we can either care to like or not. Whether or not we actually do, doesn’t matter, because as long as Daniels is just allowing us to see how insane he can be, then he’s the one with the real joy in the end. That kind of ticks me off now that I think about it, because there was definitely a crap-ton of promise with this flick and premise, it’s just a shame that it had to fall so far from ever achieving that said promise.

The only promise that this flick ever does hit head-on, is the ensemble cast and what they are able to do with each of their roles, no matter how wacky or unbelievable they may be. Zac Efron is the sort-of voice of reason throughout this whole flick and is definitely growing-up right in front of our own eyes, but if you think about it, it is sort of a dull role for the guy but nowhere near as dull as the role Robert Pattinson had in Cosmopolis. Still, Efron makes this character work and his performance shows-off a kid that definitely wants to be treated like an adult, yet, still has the tendencies of a kid that just doesn’t yet know what to do with his life or who to spend the rest of it with. Sort of how Efron is now, just without being peed-on. Then again, I still have no idea what him and Vanessa Hudgens did in their spare-time.

Playing his big bro, Matthew McConaughey is good as the slick and sly reporter that can not only charm his way into getting whatever the hell he wants, but also has a bit of problems brewing underneath that he’s pretty good at hiding. This is a nice role for McConaughey and it’s one that he can practically play while sleeping, but after a year where tore the roof down as force to be reckoned with in flicks like Killer Joe and Magic Mike, this one definitely ranks the lowest-of-the-low for him. Not to say it’s bad, but it’s not to say that it’s anything special, either. John Cusack is playing really, really against-type here as the psychotic and nutty Hillary, and shows that Cusack can probably do more than any of us ever expected from him. He’s strange, he’s weird, but he’s also very sinister and I like how Cusack totally just swan-dived right into the role, totally leaving all shades and memories behind of Peter Gabriel tapes in his pathway. Not to say that this is a special performance that makes us think of Cusack in a different way now, but it’s definitely a role that shows the guy can do more than just be that old dude from the 80’s we all remember relating to when our dates walked-out on us at prom. Yeah, that he is no more.

Better get used to that look, because that's all you're going to see him look half of the damn movie!

Better get used to that look, because that’s all you’re going to see him look half of the damn movie!

The one who really steals the spotlight from the rest of these dudes is Nicole Kidman, as the starlet fire fox, Charlotte. Kidman hasn’t been this sexy or bad-ass since the days of Eyes Wide Shut and To Die For, but here, she totally steals all the glory and attention, and has all of the fun out of everybody here. She just relishes in the fact that she can be sexy, be a little dirty, but also be a little bit sympathetic as well and once things start to go South for her and this story, she’s the only one you really give a single hoot about, especially since she’s the only one that has the most believable convictions out of the whole story (she just wants love). Kidman is probably getting the most recognition and praise for her work here and rightfully so, because the gal just looks freakin’ hot and steams up every scene she’s in, whether she’s trying to seduce people and act sexy, or not. Either way, Kidman definitely had my attention in almost every scene and I’m glad so, too, because she deserved it.

Consensus: You may have a boat-load of fun with The Paperboy if you’re looking for some weird shit to happen, non-stop without any rhyme or reason as to why exactly, but if not, then you may just be bored and annoyed by how uneven everything is, despite Daniels trying his hardest to make us think or see otherwise. You strike-out this time, my friend!

6/10=Rental!!

"I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd....."

“I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd…..”

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Mexico sure is a place full of wild crazy things, such as vampires, yeah OK!

Robbers-on-the-lam Seth (George Clooney) and Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) take an ex-preacher (Harvey Keitel)and his kids hostage. On a race to the Mexican border, they rendezvous at a cantina, not knowing the owners and clientele are blood thirsty vampires.

The film starts out not that strong as a Hostage road drama, and then right in the middle switches gears into an vampire slaying movie. The film stars and is written by Tarantino, as Robert Rodriguez directs in what surely is to be labeled as a comedy-horror film.

From Dusk Till Dawn is basically a film that has no original content. Much of the content is taken from other films and most of it doesn’t seem original. Many of the features such as one bite and you turn into them and the conventional stab in the heart to kill are all taken from others and basically ruins an addition to the horror genre. Most of the originality starts off in the film and then ends in the middle and then it basically becomes something else we’ve already seen.

The film really does start to lose itself by the end of the film and actually started to lose me. I didn’t like the two characters, Clooney and Tarantino, and I really didn’t care what happened to these guys and they never really feel regret for what they have done in the past. When you feel like you just what the two main characters just to die then you have a problem with a film. The film by the last act starts to feel lazy and very tired and the action starts to lag into a very predictable boat.

The good things about this film are very noticeable as well. Tarantino does have a knack for a very clever written script and a fast-paced energetic directing job from Robert Rodriguez. They both have a good combination of making a very wise tongue-in-cheek horror action film. The special effects in this film are very good and don’t look like actors in costumes, although that’s what they are.

Clooney does an OK job but I will give him his credit since this is his first big movie role. The rest of the cast is pretty good and funny at showing all these opposite people who come together to face vampire’s and actually does prove some good laughs.

Consensus: The film is highly energetic filled with over-the-top action that will keep you glued, but I expected more from Tarantino and Rodriguez teaming together and didn’t feel my needs were there.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

Sin City (2005)

An adventure into a world of hate, crime, and a town ran by a band of prostitues. O god what has the world come to.

The film is primarily based on three of Miller’s works: The Hard Goodbye focuses on a hulking man who embarks on a brutal rampage in search of his one-time lover’s killer; The Big Fat Kill focuses on a street war held between a group of prostitutes and a series of mercenaries; and That Yellow Bastard focuses on an aging police officer who protects a young woman from a grotesquely disfigured serial killer.

Director Robert Rodriguez, who also teams with writer of Sin City comics Frank Miller, is passionately faithful to the look, style, and tone to Miller’s original comic book series.The love that Rodriguez has for his genre of work in this film really does shine and is shown through all of the emotions.

Most of Sin City was filmed in front of a blue screen with digital effects added later, and the look is so stylized that the digital trickery starts to commerce us into Frank Miller’s comic book universe. The look of this film is so visually striking it almost seems at times that you are watching a comic book on the screen. In films today when other graphic novel film adaptations are made what will happen is the director will take the characters and story in put it their own way of style. With Sin City we do not get that as every scene is very faithful to the graphic novel, and we fully feel what the characters feel at that moment.

Each of the actors do great jobs at fully evolving into their character persona’s. The over-the-top narrating job done in each story from Willis, Rourke, and Owen are all so well done that you can totally feel the emotion of the story just through their words. Rourke does the best job I think in this film as the hard nosed son of a gun Marv, and fully shows his true talents of a tough S.O.B. All of the stars make their characters have each different characteristics that are brought up through the film very well.

This film seemed to lack a lot on reality. The certain commitment that Rodriguez has to absolute unreality makes this film hard to get pulled into any of the storys. At times the unrealistic ways became to become too much for me and I started to really kind of become appauled with how far this film could go for the absence of the human factor. This film was so crazy at points that I actually wondered if I could jump from a 5 story apartment building and live to tell the story. Though what in ultimately saved me was these engaging characters and almost made me lose a sense of reality.

The film is ultra-violent without showing any graphic blood depictions as well. The pace of the film is perfect as each scene of violence is handled with ease so it doesn’t become too tiring.

Sin City does well with totally staying faithful to the graphic novels and the visuals are perfect mixed in with some gruesome violence. Though at times this film gets too carried away with being in the state of unbelievable. When you watch this film make sure you surgically remove your brain.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,598 other followers