Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Machete Kills

Im not sure why, but I loved the first Machete. For me, it succeeded in making me laugh. Is it a real film? No. But I had a hell of a lot of fun with the first one. The odd thing is that I do NOT like Robert Rodriguez. I dont care for his style, and I dont care for his films. But he struck a chord with me with the first Machete. It was over-the-top, had killer stunt-casting, and was just generally hilarious. So with the first film ending with a tease of what's to come, I naturally got excited.

It took 3 years for Machete Kills to happen. And Im not quite sure if ideas were tossed around within those 3 years, or if they were tossed around RIGHT before shooting began, because the film was kinda' sloppy. What the first film achieved was some sense of cohesiveness. Machete Kills isn't really a cohesive film at all. I understand that if the first film was Rodriguez's "Mexican Shaft" that the second film was his "Moonraker". But for me, you can't switch a franchises genre around so abruptly. The whole film just felt off.

Let's get to plot of the film. Machete is hired by the President of the United States to stop a madman from launching nuclear missiles into space. A much larger idea than just border patrol issues like in the first one. And I'll admit, with his mission in "Kills" comes some pretty funny situations, but for the most part, it almost seemed like it was trying to be a homage to something as recent and undeserving like Jason X or something. I know for a fact that wasn't the intention at all. Maybe Leprechaun 4: In Space would be a better comparison. Regardless, they should have kept the character grounded (literally) for maybe another 3 movies.

I guess I'll get to the plus of the film. And that is once again the casting. Machete had Robert DeNiro, Don Johnson, and fucking Steven Seagal. Machete Kills? MEL FUCKING GIBSON. Dont even worry about who else is in the film. Mel steals the show. And I am not saying that biasedly. Everyone else in the film isn't even in the movie long enough to do anything with their characters. Mel plays an arms dealer named Luther Voz, and does it so fucking well. Voz is essentially a classic Bond villain. I would say he hams it up, but he plays it pretty straight, it's his costumes and surroundings that seem to ham up his character (he wears a fucking cape!). If you threw Mel in a Daniel Craig Bond film as the villain, with a serious tone and all, you would have something GREAT.

Now to nit-pick a problem with BOTH films, it's use of blood. There are PLENTY of scenes with clever and grotesque ways of dismembering and killing the baddies. It's just a shame there are no practical FX. It's all digital. And that is one of the many things that Tarantino excels at that Rodriguez does not. If you watch Django Unchained, you can clearly see that ALL of his kills are on-set squibs. Rodriguez loves to digitize everything. He shoots digital and does all of his FX in post. Which just shows a sense of laziness. I dont care if I dont like the film or not, I know Tarantino tries to make everything inside the frame as real as possible (not to mention on actual celluloid). I didn't really notice much (or any) feux-film grain in Machete Kills, but the fact that he used it for the fake trailer and the first film made absolutely no sense. If he wanted to get a sense of "aging" and "distortion", the picture should be pixelated. Putting film grain on digital video is like... Actually, I can't think of anything as stupid.

The one thing I WILL give to Rodriguez is his outsider-esque mentality. What do I mean by that? I'll explain. He works and operates in his hometown of Austin in his own film studio. He chooses less traditional projects (Sin City, Machete, etc.) and out-of-left-field projects (Spy Kids). Is Spy Kids the least bit good? Absolutely not. But I can admire wanting to make a movie his own kids can view. His craft may not be very good, but I can admire the independence he has in creating what he creates.

I know it doesnt sound like I liked the film, but in the end, I actually did. It was fun. Just not nearly as good or humorous as the first film. And that's even with the presence of Mel Gibson. Sheesh.

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