Saturday, September 4, 2010

MOVIE - Machete.

What began as a (NSFW) joke trailer for 2007's Grindhouse double feature is now a full-fledged theatrical release. And it's... well, for the most part it's pretty bloody awesome.

Very bloody, and rather awesome - but not entirely. The film's failings appear when it concerns itself with being a movie and telling a story - not an unreasonable pursuit - but this effectively takes a long blade with a curved edge to the film's pacing, and kills it.

After the five-minute opening sequence, I turned to Blue, sitting next to me, and said "okay, this is now one of the best movies I've seen all year." It starts up with an eye-popping sequence of ridiculous action and deliciously indulgent, ultra-hammy dialogue. 'This movie concerns itself with fun above all else,' it says - but... then it tries to make a little bit of sense, and now we're being introduced to characters who aren't interesting (yet) and given insight into the political situation that has created the film's boiler-pot scenario.

What we're getting are drawn-out setups for wonderful moments later in the film - and Robert Rodrigues is such a damn good film maker that the audience isn't able to tell that they're being spoon-fed ammunition for a following explosion - but such crafty technique is meant for films that are more interested in telling an air-tight story than having fun.

Often the payoffs are spectacular successes, but this doesn't excuse the limping pacing of a movie that is in all other respects a wonderful, self-conscious simultaneous spoof and celebration of guilty-pleasure action flicks.

A great deal (but not all) of Machete's best moments can be traced directly to that original inspired trailer, and it's a bit disappointing that the show does its best to confine itself to the groundwork laid back in 2007. It takes all that crazy shit and then tries to figure out reasons for it all to happen - which, again, is where the show slows down and suffers - but it occasionally steps beyond those bounds and rediscovers the kernel of inspiration that made the original concept worthy of a serious production.

The state senator who hunts border-crossing immigrants for sport is a good example - oh, and this is not a rope:

You won't understand until you see the show, but the above image is the type of insane-o stuff you want from Machete. It's the promise that trailer made, but it the film too often tries to straddle both the tenants of Good Modern Filmmaking and the 'grindhouse ridiculous' that birthed its concept.

Machete is still a great deal of fun, with more creativity and wit than any other recent action flick I can name, but it would have been a truly fantastic show if it hadn't tried so hard to be a good film. ...if that makes any sense.

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