(Minor Season 3 Spoilers) My favorite show on television that it seems like noone wants on television, Chuck, had its fourth season premiere last Monday, and I have to say I’m incredibly glad that a show that’s went from a prime time show to a prime time show with a cut cast and cut budget is still this entertaining. The story’s opened up a couple of months after the third season, the Buy More has been rebuilt after Shaw’s attack and is now under CIA control with CIA employees, and Chuck’s gotten into a new mission of finding his mother, played flawlessly by the one and only Linda Hamilton. Episode 1 of the season just sort of introduced us to the new plot line of Chuck and Morgan trying to find Chuck’s mom, and we learn that quite frankly Chuck and Morgan are broke from their world escapades in their pursuit. In the first episode it’s revealed that Ellie’s now pregnant with her and Awesome’s first child, and Chuck’s having to keep his CIA involvement a secret in order to keep her from stressing out. It’s another one of those “I’m lying to you for your own good” scenarios. However, it’s being hinted at that Chuck’s mom has some involvement with this new terror organization that’s threatening the world. The first season was basically just Chuck adapting to his new life without a huge “bad guy” group, while season 2 was Fulcrum headed by Chevy Chase and season 3 was the Ring headed by an elite council group and Shaw, who posed as a double agent for the CIA. This season it’s been revealed that the new “bad guy” of sorts is going to be one singular person and not a group, which should be a nice change of pace. So far into the season they’ve not revealed any one to be that person yet, although I could see Dolph Lundgren being that guy despite the end of the first episode or even Chuck’s mom if it was that big of a twist.
As far as Chuck and Sarah go, I really like where they’re taking the relationship. They’re finally a couple, and now the writers are taking that to the next logical step and introducing problems for their relationship (i.e. Sarah’s unwillingness to commit into a “normal life” after spending the past 10 years working from place to another). Although some complain that they’re just making excuses for the relationship to not work, there are evident steps that are bringing them closer together and it’s pretty good sense in the writing. As far as the Buy More goes, I’ve always enjoyed the comic relief that came with them, it was always a great diversion from the spy life. Thankfully in the second episode they’ve brought Jeff and Lester back in what was a hilarious scene, and the entire Nerd Herd/Buy More crew is back in commission now that Morgan is the manager. It’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate Big Mike, my favorite of all the Buy More staff, back into the mix. Also it’s really nice that they’re keeping the relationship with Casey and his daughter, Alex, (one of my favorite incorporations from last season) back into the mix, and now that her and Morgan are starting a relationship. Between Morgan’s goofy antics and Casey’s… Casey-ness, comic hilarity shall ensue. Overall season 4 is off to a fantastic start, there’s a lot to love with this season and it’s going to be really interesting where they take it over the next few weeks, hopefully NBC will be kind enough to grant another 9 episodes to a pretty shallow 13 episode order.
Okay I was going to post all of these articles separately but once I got to looking at them I realized they were all semi-related. We have news of the latest in handheld technology, a classic franchise returning to the screen, and a new classic making it’s grand finale.
- First off, Nintendo has finally put fanboy concerns to rest with a full list of announcements for the 3DS, along with a semi-altered design apparently (most won’t notice it but apparently it’s a slightly changed analog stick). The system will launch in Japan in late February, putting a release date for the U.S. and Europe sometime in March. The price has been announced for Japan for 25,000 yen, which roughly translates to $300 American. The system will come packaged with a 2GB SD card, and a new feature on the system was unveiled today that the 3DS will be able to pick up information like Miis, game history, etc. from other 3DSs when the system is turned off. Basically think of it as the U.S. government in your pocket (allegedly).
- Second, George Lucas moved up the jerk totem pole a couple of days ago with finally announcing the plan for releasing Star Wars in 3D. Starting in 2012, one Star Wars film will be released in 3D per year-(2012-Phantom Menace, 2013-Attack of the Clones, etc.). On the bright side the most die-hard of Lucas’ fans will get to see their favorite films in three glorious dimensions, but on the bad side we’re going to have to wait 2/3 years after 2012 to finally see the good ones.
- Third and Finally, the Batman 3 news mill has slowly started trickling again, with news about the third film in the franchise (being set for release in July of 2012) concerning Christopher Nolan’s involvement being discovered. Nolan has finally confirmed that he will be directing the film. Concerning he just got off of his work on the phenomenal Inception and he’s been tied up in getting Superman started, it’s a relied to know he’s committed to the project. It’s also being debated that the film is going to be released in 3D. Although Nolan has never been a huge fan of the technology, Inception has been planned for a 3D conversion for the debut of HBO’s 3D channel, which would be a huge premiere for the channel. Nolan could really do whatever he wanted with Warner Bros. now considering he’s made two of their biggest hits over the past 5 years, it’ll be interesting to see studio input and artistic vision once again go head to head.
They might as well rename this film “What Jake’s Seeing This Christmas”. There’s a lot of potential here with directors like the Coens and talent like Bridges’, plus that song is pretty awesome accompaniment.
Before I entered my theater to see Legend of the Guardians, my friend I was seeing it with asked me what I really wanted to see in the film. While he was really in it for story and characters (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I simply told him I was simply seeing the movie to watch a bunch of owls fight each other in the same glorious 3D I saw in the trailer. Thankfully, owls fighting in three dimensions was exactly what I got in one of the best-animated films of the year, and in the same year that we got Toy Story 3, that’s saying something. The film follows the story of a young owl named Soren, who’s always had his head in the clouds dreaming of the mystical Guardians of Ga’Hoole. After the forlorn army of the evil Metal Beak kidnaps him and his brother, it becomes Soren’s responsibility to save the owl kingdom and ultimately kick some owl tail. In case you haven’t seen the trailer, the film isn’t made by the powerhouses Pixar, Dreamworks Animation, Sony’s Animation studio Blue Sky, but by the Warner Bros. animation company that we really haven’t seen since 2006’s Happy Feet, which has to be one of the most infectiously cute films I’ve ever seen. Although I’ll get to that later, this film is by no means that cute, but maybe that’s because it’s director is use to blue schlongs and Spartan kicks. In case you can’t hold your suspense any longer, the film does look just as gorgeous as you might have originally hoped. The film has some gorgeous looking environments that feel as real as the creativity in the film, from the deep caves of Metal Beak’s fortress to the few moments in the film, showcasing sea or just nature, where it seems like Snyder’s just showing off. Dreamworks is sort of the middle of the road when it comes to animating their films, and Pixar is still the king, but the undoubtedly talented team behind Guardians displays the same sort of knack for their trade as their director did both a year and three years ago with both 300 and Watchmen’s game-changing spectacle of visuals. As far as 3D goes, I can only judge about 3/4 of the film’s 3D, seeing as I was accidentally sent to the wrong theater by my theater’s usher and only realized his mistake when I noticed no one else was wearing 3D glasses. That being said, the film’s first 1/4 that I missed was pretty devoid of the film’s true 3D spectacle, but the other 3/4 of the film’s three dimensional spectacle (neglecting the cliché) is some of the best implementation of the technology since Avatar. It puts a lot of the industry’s post conversion to shame, and stands amongst How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 as what can really be done with the so called “future of cinema”. Hyperbolic jargons aside, there are some jaw-dropping scenes of 3D prowess in Guardians (the twister/hurricane scene, 99% of the battle scenes) that make this film a have-to-see-in-three-dimensions film event. It’s not going to be known for capturing the sense of flight How to Train Your Dragon did, but there are times in Guardians it’s hard not to be inspired by the heights being displayed in mind-shattering 3D. Thankfully there’s not a single voice cast member in the film that grated on my nerves (except for my exposed nerve ending for cuteness), which is great especially if you’re looking forward to hearing owls with cockney accents. (Lead actor) does the voice for Soren and there’ll be more than one comparison to Frodo from LOTR. (Twilight, Digger, Metal Beak) Anthony Lapaglia, Joel Edgerton, and David Wenham are all just delightful as their respective owl counterparts. Geoffrey Rush who was known for his classic role as Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean series was the stand out for me though as Soren’s mentor/hero. Hearing the same voice that led the Black Pearl through the Maelstrom lead an attack force of owls is hard for my nerd heart to handle. It’s like a myocardial infarction of geek-dom.
Many things can be said about Snyder’s films of the past, whether it’s self-indulgence, poor writing, too much blue wang (hooray for two blue wong references in the same review), or more commonly a whole lot of slow motion, but whether it’s the fact that he’s becoming a better at his job as a director or the animation field suits his skills in a truly fine way, Guardians definitely isn’t his best film to date but is a fine balance of his filmmaking talents. Snyder takes his time introducing the characters in an eerily structured way that’s quick and friendly enough for a kids film. At an hour and a half Snyder has a lot of ground to cover and it does feel a little bit rushed, but he does moves quickly enough to never let the film get stagnant. Things are brisk, fun, and fast, which will serve children and their normally bored parents well. Snyder is also known for his depiction of violence. 300 had some, how should I put it, gruesomely violent scenes of blood and gore, and Watchmen took moments of violence and paired them with severe emotional consequences. I don’t know if the folks at Warner Bros. had seen those other films (which is odd considering they published them) but he may not have been the best choice in not scaring the bejeezus out of kids. Snyder talks a lot of talk in his script making his characters talk up the majesty of the guardians, but right after the 2/3 point when the guardians finally come in and many times before he fulfills his promise with a ton of incredibly well-made scenes of action. The owls are varied, the weapons the owls use are awe-some, and the mid-air battles can be entirely dizzying in the best way possible. While the pairing of Zac Snyder and animated owls fighting with serrated knives Is quite possibly the peanut butter and jelly for film buffs, it’s not necessarily “great” for kids. There’s nothing inappropriate per say for kids, there’s no gore or graphic violence, it’s just that there’s a time or two where Snyder lets it all go and puts together some amazing moments of action that might be a little too intense/scary for kids younger than 10/12. As always though, use your own judgment. I almost feel like a bad guy having to pick out things that this film doesn’t quite do to perfection. Maybe it was because I wasn’t watching it in 3D, but the first 20 minutes of the film were pretty slow, almost following children’s films clichés too closely. Speaking of children’s film clichés, Guardians isn’t going to win any awards for its script, which can feel a little too deliberate in a few of the film’s moments. Surprisingly to both me as a viewer and as a writer, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is a film that kids will enjoy, but can be entirely enjoyed by film buffs. Fans of Snyder’s work need not be afraid of the idea of their favorite director doing a kid’s movie. Legend of the Guardians is a film that can be frighteningly deep for a kids film and delightfully funny the next. Guardians is a sharp mixture, tossing together dazzling 3D, talented voice actors, and some of the best action/story work by one of our generation’s finest directors, all coming together in one of the purest definitions of the phrase “thrill ride”.
3 1/2 out of 4 Stars
In our time, there have been many heroes to come and save the day. James Bond has saved the world about 22 times now, and it turns out he’s a shape shifter. Batman has saved Gotham dozens of times in both comics and film. Then there’s Macgruber, who, quite frankly, may be hurting the world more than helping it. This past year Macgruber has joined the ranks of Wayne and Garth, The Blues Brothers, and countless others as an SNL character to get his own film, and to be honest, the results could have been much, much worse than the hysterical film we received. After a decade in exile, Macgruber is called back into action when the man who murdered his wife, Dieter Von Cunth (his name is about 1/3 of the jokes in the film) has stolen a highly dangerous warhead and threatens to destroy the world. After Macgruber assembles his own kick-butt team of the best assassins in the world and subsequently blows them to smithereens by accident, he’s left with esteemed, by the books Lt. Piper and his legendary sidekick from the show, Vicki St. Elmo. I’m not gonna beat around the bush, Macgruber is made for fans of the show. From the gut-busting opening orchestra rendition of the theme song, to the timeless bomb-defusing scene at the end of the film (that’s not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer), if you’ve never seen the sketch or you’ve never found it funny, then there’s nothing for you to enjoy in this film. That being said, I’ve been a fan of SNL in general since I was old enough to stay up and watch it with my dad, so I’m sort of the target audience for this one. This being a Macgruber movie and targeted at fans of the Macgruber sketch, I think it hits the nail on the head. The film gets the feel of the show just right, never spending too much time in one place, and it still has that incredibly goofy style of humor that’s almost self-referential. You get the sense that half way through the film the writers aren’t even really interested in making a great movie, which goes towards the film’s benefit. This is mostly thanks to Will Forte, who sports the mullet and vest again to portray his role as Macgruber. To be honest, the guy really doesn’t have much going for him since his filmography began, and this is really been his only real character that’s taken off. But to the guy’s credit, he plays the role like no other, and delivers a comedic performance that saves the film in a lot of scenes. Kristin Wiig never really impressed me in the film, and the same goes for Ryan Phillippe, but the movie does squeeze a few good drops out of Powers Boothe as Colonel Jim Faith and Val Kilmer, who actually has a nice comedic knack. While the film does have a few amazingly funny moments, they come at the expense of some that aren’t so funny. The jokes in the film are a little half and half, some that will take you by surprise and others that surprise you by thinking “that joke really made it into the film?” Honestly, by the time the credits roll, it’s a pretty unbalanced experience comedically speaking. But when Macgruber really reaches its form, it delivers a great comedic experience for the year, you may just have to endure through some of the lower valleys of the film’s writing. It’s almost one of those cases of, hysterical for 5 minutes, a little bit draining at 1 1/2 hours. It’s not quite up to par with the level of comedy brilliance like Get Him to the Greek or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and it’s not really trying to, but some better writing could have helped the film. If you’re a fan of the sketch, you should definitely check it out, but if not then there’s really not going to be a lot to love here.
2 1/2 out of 4
In 2006 Martin Scorsese raked across the scene with a great little cops and gangsters film “The Departed”. Aside from his thick influence by the world of his home town in Boston, there are a lot of cues that Ben Affleck was influenced by Martin Scorsese’s masterwork in that same 2006 crime thriller, which in the wrong hands could have been a failed project of a film trying to be better than Scorsese’s work, but taking cues from that film and at the same time creating it’s own vibe in the way it paints a complex message surrounded by an authentic world crafted by Affleck. The film takes place in the hustle and bustle town of Charlestown, aka the bank robbery capitol of the world. Early in the film Affleck and his team take on what is supposed to be a routine bank job, until they’re forced to take the manager hostage. After releasing her they realize later on she lives within a mile of them, Affleck is sent to clean up their tracks, but ends up falling in love with her, setting into motion the rest of the chaotic, paranoia-inducing events of the film. Just like in 2006’s The Departed The Town is supported by a great cast making up its cops and robbers. Jon Hamm who’s gotten a lot of acclaim for his role in Mad Men sleazes it up as the villainous FBI Agent, and Blake Lively, although the trailers would lead you to think otherwise, has a few small parts in the film but when she’s on screen she’s a great compliment to things. Rebecca Hall, the main love interest, pulls a lot of the film’s dramatic moments and when she’s at her best the film hits some of its finest moments. Ben Affleck, the director and main character, isn’t going to win any awards for his performance, but has a subtle performance as the normal guy holding everything together, and many of the film’s moments of true tension comes from this guy’s quest of a new life, and the prevention of that because of his past. The best performer of show for me was Jeremy Renner, who was nominated for his role in The Hurt Locker last year, and is truly unstoppable in a couple of the film’s scenes as the loose cannon of the bank robber group, you’re never sure what’s going to happen when he’s on screen. It’s also worth mentioning Pete Postlethwaite shares some of the film’s best moments, and even though in a majority of those he’s cutting roses as a florist, he’s the fiercest florist you’ve ever seen. The film also has a great authenticity going for it. Affleck grew up in Boston, and you can really that not just in the way he shoots the film and captures these gorgeous pieces of landscape and monuments, but in his intense respect for the art of storytelling and action in any scene the film isn’t allowing you to breathe thanks to the fast-paced, high-tension feel of it all.
Affleck knows this city like the back of his hand. All of the streets have this great claustrophobic feel to them that only builds over time, and there are some moments in the film where he’s not afraid to just take in the beauty surrounding a very grim situation. Take for instance, a scene where Doug and Jem are going in to basically bust some heads. As they cross the street to get into the future victim’s apartment, Affleck gets a great shot of a beautiful memorial in the background. Why did he do this? He could have easily shot that 3 second scene anywhere else, but he knows what his audience appreciates. This being Affleck’s second feature film, it’s admirable how much finesse he shows in shooting his big action pieces. The guy has a great choreography to each of his fights so they have just enough emotional punch, and that they all mean something to the story. There’s a car chase about 3/4 of the way through the film that is easily one of my favorites in the past couple of years of film. However, when all is said and done, The Town is going to be remembered by me for not delivering a few great action pieces or having that peppered by a fantastic group of talented actors, but for me it’s going to be the story that Affleck produces amongst the gunfire and bad Irish stereotypes. Although it does make the film feel a little heavy length-wise (the film clocks in at a little over 2 hours, but it feels like a really long 2 hours), there’s a lot of time spent making sure these character’s resonate. You get to know them, learn their tendencies, how they react in situations, and it all builds and builds to help the overall impact of the movie. As you get to know who these characters are it makes the action scenes all the more tense because you truly know what’s at stake each time a bullet leaves the chamber. There’s no meaningless death made famous by the likes of Bruckheimer or Bay, but every time a character hits the ground, it’s something worth noticing. The series of events that take place in the film work in a way that allows the stakes to gradually build higher and higher in a really unique way. Without giving too much away, there’s a scene or two in the film that will have you cringing in your seat as you really explore the paranoia that comes with robbing banks, and Affleck (as a director at least) enjoys every second of it. All of this intercedes with the film’s incredible message (I’ll leave it to be a surprise for you all) that weaves in and throughout the film’s events in almost a Shakespearean way, and completely makes sense by the time the film fades to black. When I start to think about The Town, there’s only a couple of things I could point out as being a “fault”. As I said earlier the film did feel a little long even at the two hour span, but it never really drags, it just takes its time and covers a lot of ground. Another thing you could almost count Affleck to a fault for was being a little over-ambitious with his plot. He tries to get a lot of material in there, from the relationship between Doug and Jem’s sister that never really goes as far as it clearly wants to, to Jon Hamm’s role that’s never quite explained enough, there’s a little bit of room left to breathe in Affleck’s script that would have been nice to see explored in another 20-30 minutes. I know those two criticisms contradict each other, but I guess that’s how film journalism works some times. At the end of the day, it can be argued The Town is the best film in theaters now. The film deserves a truck load of Oscar love come March, and for a variety of reasons. The Town is a culmination of great performers, great writing, and great coordination by its director, it ends with a bang, and it’s a hard cinematic experience to forget.
3 1/2 out of 4
*This is obviously the written review of this film, the video review is going to be up in the next couple of days if you want to check out both or wait for that one, whatever floats your boat. I’m going to try giving video reviews a whack, may work it may not, but I’m in the process of editing it now. Also, the words I use here were not used as a script for the video review, so it could be entirely different.
This is an incredible fan-made film chronicling a short adventure of Captain Han Solo, probably taking place before Episode 4. It’s really great to see an old school Star Wars adventure like this that’s actually made really well, and even though the animation style is a little odd, it’s definitely worth a look.
Ok, I know for a fact I haven’t done one of these in forever. (If I remember right it was 2008 with Cloverfield and The Bucket List, both of those are great films btw.) Anywho, there are three new films coming out this weekend that all have great potential in them, and there’s one I know I’m going to see the night of its release (pending that there aren’t many terrible reviews for it), but the other two are sort of stuck in a grid lock for my Monday night attention of next week, and so I turn to you. As long as there aren’t too many bad reviews for the Shyamalan film “Devil”, I’ll be seeing it Friday night, and if it does get a whole lot of bad press, I’ll just not see it, naturally. However, the other two films coming out over the weekend are Ben Affleck’s The Town and Will Gluck’s Easy A.These are two very different films, making for one of my most bizarre “Which To See”s ever.
Ben Affleck’s “The Town” takes place in a city inside of Massachusetts where more bank robberies occur in that city’s limits than in the entire country in one year. A female bank manager is taken hostage during one of the bank robberies, and after she’s released she just so happens to fall in love with one of the four main bank robbers in the town that just so happened to be the one that kidnapped her. Ben Affleck plays the lead guy as the bank robber gone softy looking to make a change in his life, Jeremy Renner (nominated for best actor last year for the best picture winner The Hurt Locker) plays a member of his team, Blake Lively plays Renner’s sister who is Affleck’s old flame, and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) plays an FBI agent cracking down on the bank robbery syndicate once and for all. The movie’s currently got about 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s getting great reviews, and I’ve always been a sucker for heist movies.
Will Gluck’s “Easy A” follows almost an entirely different story. Emma Stone plays a goody two-shoes high school girl who, in order to help her friends reputation on his request, pretends to sleep with him and spreads the rumor to help his reputation. This takes a turn for the worse when other guys start to come to her asking for the same service, and she becomes somewhat of a fake prostitute. The movie also takes on a “The Scarlet Letter” plot in that she uses the story’s trademark “A” on Hester Prynne’s dress to set a label for herself. The movie also stars Malcolm McDowell, Thomas Haden Church, and Stanley Tucci. The film’s getting surprisingly great reviews as well and it’s even being cited for its John Hughes-esque charm, which is one of the best compliments you can give a teen comedy if not THE highest. I’m also a big fan of Emma Stone, she had some great comedic timing and presence in last year’s Zombieland.
So, the choice is up to ya’ll! (PS the choice isn’t really up to you I’m just going to listen to suggestions.) Comment your vote or vote in the poll!
Undoubtedly one of the best parts of the 2010 Nintendo E3 Press Conference had to be the reveal of the 3DS. It looks like Nintendo’s going to learn from some of its mistakes and have a really great lineup set up for the platform, and the technology is definitely one of a kind and is going to be setting the bar another rank up as Nintendo often does.
News came in this morning, however, that could indicate the platform’s long-rumored release date. A tweet by a manufacturer was posted this morning stating the handheld was going to be released in November for Japan. While this does not mean the handheld will come out in America at that time, the fact that Nintendo’s getting it out in time for the Christmas rush could be a good signal that they’ll cash in on America’s huge holiday season. Time will have to tell though, at least we have been confirmed by Nintendo that the handheld will in fact be released by March of next year.
Ok, at first you might laugh at the idea of a serious drama about ballet, but all I ask is that you… Just watch.
I drive a lot. Every weekend I take a 1 1/2 hour drive back and forth between college and home, and between that and a lot of down time at the dorm, it’s nice to have something to listen to aside from my regular music. Sometimes I like to learn about how comedy works or listen to a review of a new film. That’s where my favorite podcasts come in. In case you haven’t caught onto the podcast craze already, here are my favorite (aka the only ones I listen to) podcasts.
The /Filmcast-This is more of my go-to podcast for film news, the /Filmcast has a great structured format to it, exploring what the hosts Devindra Hardawar, Adam Quigley, and David Chen are currently watching, film news, and a dedicated film review everything week. The guys can become a little too pretentious sometimes, but the film does take great pride in being film geek glory. The podcast takes pride in the way film works, and it’s to be thanked in part for my love of film.
The Totally Rad Show-Possibly my favorite podcast, the TRS show is a great round up of all the newest things in pop culture, reviewing a film, video game, and usually a hodge podge of a game or activity every week. The guys have so much fun with their job it’s hard not to have fun with them.
Doug Loves Movies-Going a little more towards the comedy side of things, Doug Benson holds a semi-weekly live podcast show where he gets on some of my favorite current comedians and basically discusses movies and shares jokes and plenty of laughs. Every week there’s a general discussion that serves as a launchpad for jokes, and concludes in a rousing game of the Leonard Maltin game.
The Nerdist-Chris Hardwick, one of my favorite comedians, leads this podcast with his friends Jonah Ray and Matthew Mira take so much delight in their podcasting, it’s amazing to get to listen to. The podcast covers a variety of different topics that people “nerd out” over from the process of comedy, to music, to television and even film, having such stars as Paul F Tompkins, Jon Hamm, and the great Craig Ferguson. The show delights itself in exploring the world of nerd, in that people can be creative obsessives over anything. Plus, you can’t miss out on the live shows with Craig Ferguson and Adam Savage are not to be missed.
Pod F. Tompkast-I just started listening to this one, but it seems to be a neat exploration into the mind of one of my favorite comedians, Paul F Tompkins.
There was a film last year that I appreciated quite a bit that was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which didn’t quite make fun of the action genre in the same way Robert Rodriquez’s Machete does, but in the same way both films incorporate a tone in the violence, a sheer thrill and recklessness of what blade is going where, who’s firing what gun, and what 66 year old former prisoner is riding an explosion while firing a Gatling gun mounted to a motorcycle that I can’t help but appreciate. Robert Rodriquez’s “Machete” breaks a lot of borders on its own terms when it comes to the action genre, but at the same time it doesn’t redefine anything, which is exactly what I wanted from this gloriously violent, trashy, and beautifully campy action film. Machete takes place in modern day inside of a near-border Texas city, years after the murder of his family, a ruthless former cop named “Machete” (Danny Trejo) has to take on his wife’s murderer (Steven Seagal), along with the men who set him up to die, a corrupt politician (Robert De Niro) and his seedy minion (Jeff Fahey). The film delights itself in camp, but part of the reason the film is so undeniably enjoy is its 80s movie style diverse cast. Danny Trejo leads the film as Machete with a determined squint that could break cinder blocks, and definitely sells the idea that he’s, well, insanely undefeatable. Robert De Niro and Don Johnson star as two of the film’s major villains, a politician and a border patrol guard respectively, and both play their parts like it’s natural to them to just be sleazeballs. De Niro gets a few scenes especially that bring some of the film’s best intentional unintentional hilarity. Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriquez carry the “leading lady” torches of the movie, and both perform admirably, the latter proving her action chops in some ah-mazing shots towards the end of the film (eyepatches make everything better). Lindsey Lohan does have a small part in the film, but her role is pretty much useless to anything the film is trying to do and even for a “fake” film she’s still pretty awful. Steven Seagal makes the true best of what’s been his first film appearance in almost a decade, and both Jeff Fahey and Cheech Marin have some moments in the film that practically define its attitude of “crazy yet awesome”.
As mentioned earlier, the film strongly puts on an accent of camp. The film is entirely based off of a Grindhouse trailer from the team-up between Rodriquez and Tarantino two years ago, and is basically making fun of the cliched action films of “one man on a mission to murder everybody”. The film gladly accepts these stereotypes and ratchets them up a thousand times, with absurd conversations between characters that at times almost breaks the fourth wall, characters that are practically caricatures, and action scenes that are knowingly insane. Machete isn’t ashamed of it, it takes pride in it, and gladly throws you into the joyful madness of it all. Once you get into the spirit of things and realize what this film is (which should be easy to do after watching the trailer), the film becomes impossible to not enjoy. While the film does become reckless fun quick, it does have what you might call a steep learning curve to it. The first 20 minutes of the movie contain some of the fiercest violence and coarsest material of the entire movie, and will turn some immediately off from the rest of the film. If it’s not your niche, you’ll quickly learn it’s not your niche. There were some moments in the first few scenes of the film that I was convinced I hated it, that is before it gets into the groove of its own joke. Machete is a “bad” film, but it’s just a really good “bad” film.
Rodriquez displayed a pretty good sense of action in this year’s Predators (although I wasn’t entirely impressed with that film), but all of his creative energy in directing action for the past 18 years shows in Machete. Rodriquez gets some crazy good action shots in for the film, from the hand-to-hand to the hydraulic-car-to-guy’s-face. Every action scene is elaborately staged and is completely self-aware, beautifully set in Rodriquez’s mind and gorgeously executed by the blade of Machete. There’s one particular action piece set inside a church with Mr. Marin himself that inspired wonder in my film-going heart, not to mention the Steven Seagal/Machete sword fight. The movie also contains a love for horrific violence. Quite possibly the most violent film I’ve ever seen, Machete (without being too explicit in my description) will make you look at wine bottle openers, weed eaters, and well, machetes, in a whole new light. If there’s anything else that you could deem “wrong” about Machete as a whole, it’s the way Rodriquez goes about with a message of the film. I’m all for teaching an audience a lesson, but Rodriquez’s influence of teaching his audience about tolerance of the illegal immigration laws and what not, while enlightening, doesn’t really belong in the film. It’s like if they played “An Inconvenient Truth” at the end of a monster truck rally, some will appreciate it and learn from it, but it just doesn’t fit in the context. All in all Machete is exactly the film I was hoping to see. It’s a gloriously violent satire of the action genre that will make you laugh and stare in awe as Rodriquez poignantly highlights the conventions and cliches of the action genre, even if it comes with a message that’s not necessarily warranted and while impressing some, turning those away that weren’t going to get the joke in the first place.
3 out of 4
Zach Galifiankis stands as one of my favorite comedians, his stand up is hysterical and one of a kind, and he’s finally breaking out into a lot of huge film roles. One of the funniest bits he does now is the series of online videos for Funny or Die, “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis”. Each brief 5 minute episode is basically an awkward interview with a current film star where Zach gets to be awkward… between ferns. Definitely check it out.
Steve Carell (Probably My Favorite)
Sean Penn (With Zach’s “Twin” Brother)
I’m a college student. Money is what you would call “tight”. I’m currently attending a four year private university taking 15 credit hours making approximately $120 a month in my work study program, and praying to God I can make good enough grades to keep all the scholarships the state of Tennessee is lending me. So whatever time I get for entertainment, whether that’s film or video games or music, it has to be a wise investment for me. I have to know that I’m going to like something or have reasonable belief I’m going to enjoy a product before I get it. I can’t blind buy very many albums any more or films for that matter, because if I don’t enjoy or derive pleasure from that product, I’ve sort of lost that investment to what could have went to a textbook or helping something else for college. That being said, the entire reason I’m bringing this up comes from my trip through Wal-Mart last night. I was strolling through the electronics, and I came up on the display for Metroid: Other M. I had been looking forward to this game for some time, I remember when it was first announced and I had planned on buying it, that is until some less than friendly reviews were released by some of my favorite/most trusted sources like X-Play and Game Informer (I subscribe to Game Informer every month, and X-Play could be considered what got me into video games and journalism itself). The game’s trailers look amazing, and the game did get some pretty stellar reviews from IGN and Gamespot and other members of the gaming critique family, but investing $60 in a game is just a tough sell, especially when I’m unsure on the product to begin with, considering I’m in college. I love it when studios try new things and I wish all the luck in the world to this project and to other Nintendo projects in the future, but, even though it may be a stellar game, I won’t be trying it out until the price comes down significantly in a few months (I’m talking $20/$30), until one of my other Nintendo friends picks it up, or until my life is a little less college-y.