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Comics 101 for 09/09/2010
Movie Review - Machete
I checked out Machete last weekend. It's a really fun film, lives up to the trailer from three years ago and then some. Honestly, it goes a little overboard with the ridiculous by not balancing the levity in the story with enough substance for me. Instead of coming off more like the previous, deftly handled Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse features, Machete borders a bit more on the absurd like "Dolemite", though never quite hitting those depths.
Maybe that was the real point all along, with true exploitation/grindhouse flicks like Dolemite being relished as entertainment years later in their own horrible, low budget, terribly acted genius. But those films were usually consistently awful across the board from start to finish with very little artistic merit at all. Machete was inconsistent in this regard to me. At times it worked as an awesome grindhouse homage with tons of merit, but in many other scenes, especially the final act, it felt lazy with no substance or atmosphere whatsoever.
If the filmmakers showcased a bit more character development throughout the narrative, as in Planet Terror for example, I think it would have allowed me to get behind them more. I just couldn't completely invest in the emotionless killing machine that is Trejo or Jessica Alba as the main protagonists. Albeit, these are pretty flimsy stereotypes to begin with and this is low budget, genre material after all. But Rodriguez has proven that he can balance the absurdity of his storytelling with substance in his previous films, as in the perfectly sublime Desperado which certainly had characters as cartoony as they come.
Anyway, Danny Trejo shines in this movie of course, Steven Seagal is absurdly awesome (and not on purpose), Jeff Fahey is pretty great too and keeps the movie grounded somewhat in reality while the rest of the film becomes a cartoon. Don Johnson as the evil border patrol sheriff was really under utilized though. I blame the overly convoluted plot.
Still, it's definitely worth seeing for Trejo and Fahey, the ridiculous gratuitous violence and nudity we all hoped for, some pretty cool action sequences, and of course Seagal totally miscast as an over (or under?) acting Mexican drug lord.
Now that's entertainment.
See you next time for another Comics 101 feature.
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