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Machete Kills

Machete Kills is the 2013 sequel to Machete. Robert Rodriguez wrote and directed it, and the one and only Danny Trejo returns as the titular character. The infamous ex-federale gets recruited by the President of the United States to stop a revolutionary who is threatening to launch a nuke at Washington, D.C. Machete must find a way to stop the attack and figure out what really is going on. That’s easier said than done because the plot is nonsensical and convoluted.

There are lots of plot twists, cameos, and absurd B movie moments. I usually like Robert Rodriguez movies, but he tries to do way too much in this film and not much of it works. I wanted to like this movie, I really did, but it’s not up to par with the original. The whole sci-fi element felt tacked on. Maybe it looked good on paper, but it doesn’t translate to the screen. I know it’s supposed to be corny and cheesy, but it doesn’t mesh well with the character of Machete. Machete is a badass, not an astronaut.

There’s a fake trailer for a potential third installment called Machete Kills Again… In Space, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. This movie was too much of a flop. Machete Kills killed Machete.

Critically Rated at 8/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Planet Terror

            Planet Terror is a 2007 Robert Rodriguez movie and one half of the double feature experience known as Grindhouse. Now when I say that it’s a Robert Rodriguez movie, I really mean that it’s a Robert Rodriguez movie. He wrote it, he directed it, he co-edited it, he produced it, he did the cinematography, and he even scored it. That’s about as hands on as you can get in Hollywood. It’s a glorified B movie about zombies and a stripper with a machine gun leg.

Rose McGowan stars as a stripper named Cherry Darling and Freddy Rodriguez plays her ex-boyfriend, the mysterious El Wray. They bump into each other on a quiet night in a rural Texas town. Things don’t stay quiet for long. A deadly biochemical gas is released at a nearby military base and it’s turning the townspeople into zombies. It’s your classic zombie movie, complete with a ragtag group of survivors doing battle with the undead.

There’s a great supporting cast including Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Fergie, Marley Shelton, Naveen Andrews, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, and Quentin Tarantino. The look of the film is pretty unique. They scratched the film to make it look aged and more like a ‘70s flick. At one point there’s a “missing reel” and the film jumps from a steamy sex scene to all hell breaking loose. Suddenly there are more survivors, more zombies, and shit’s on fire. They jumped from the second act straight into the climax and it still works.

I remember watching Grindhouse in the theater. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at the cinema. It had two movies from two of my favorite directors for the price of one ticket, and there were also bonus trailers for fake movies (some of which were so awesome that they turned them into real movies, like Machete). I felt like I went back in time. Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof is pretty decent, but Planet Terror is more entertaining and fun.

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Sin City (film)

There are quite a few movies based on comic books, but Sin City takes it to a new level. It is a comic, but they used actors and Hollywood effects instead of paper to tell the story. Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller co-directed this film translation of Miller’s Sin City and convert the comic into a cinematic masterpiece. This movie has it all: violence, nudity, honest cops, corrupt cops, hitmen, hitwomen, prostitutes, criminals, clergymen, and pedophiles. You probably wouldn’t want to watch it with your mom.

The movie starts with a mysterious lady (Marley Shelton) on a balcony overlooking the city skyline. She’s approached by a smooth-talking guy (Josh Hartnett), and they have a casually nuanced conversation, which ends with the guy shooting her. It turns out that he was a hitman and it’s implied that she hired him to kill herself. It was an indirect suicide. Welcome to Sin City.

The next story is about a cop on the verge of retirement trying to solve one last case. Hartigan (Bruce Willis), is pushing sixty and has a bum ticker, but he’s not gonna let a little heart problem stop him from rescuing the kidnapped Nancy Callahan. Nick Stahl plays the pedophilic perpetrator. He is a member of the powerful Roark family, and his corrupt senator father keeps the cops off his back. That doesn’t stop Hartigan from going after him and shooting his dick off. Hartigan almost dies, but Nancy lives. He reasons that it’s a fair trade.

The film jumps over to tell Marv’s tale next. Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a brute, a beast, a gladiator, and ugly as hell. A beautiful and sexy whore named Blondie (Jaime King) is in trouble and sleeps with Marv for protection. He wakes up to find her dead, and he is framed for her murder. He has to find out who killed Goldie and why. He begins following the trail and finds out that Cardinal Roark is involved. The Roark family sure gets around. Suffice to say, Marv kills a lot of people and avenges Goldie’s death.

Marv Sin City

Clive Owen headlines the next segment. He plays Dwight, a do-gooder who gets himself involved in a war between the Old Town prostitutes and the mob. Jackie Boy (Benicio del Toro) hits Brittany Murphy and makes her cry. Dwight decides he doesn’t like that and he doesn’t like Jackie Boy. So he follows him to make sure that he doesn’t hit any more girls. Jackie Boy goes to Old Town where the prostitutes are and pulls out a gun when his charms don’t get a girl into his car. The prostitutes kill Jackie Boy and then they find out that he’s a cop. The prostitutes freak out because a dead cop means that the truce between the cops and whores would end and then the mob could wage war for Old Town. Dwight has to get rid of the body before that happens. And he does.

Next we return to check in on Hartigan. It’s about eight years later and Hartigan has been stuck in jail, framed for kidnapping and raping Nancy Callahan. He finally gets out and goes to make sure that Nancy is safe. Not only is she safe, she’s Jessica Alba now, and she’s a stripper, and she’s totally in love with him. The only downside is that Roark Junior is back, and so is his dick, and now he’s yellow and smells like shit. This time Hartigan might be too old to stop him. He’s not though, and he kills that yellow bastard and saves Nancy’s life again. Then he shoots himself in the head so no more Roarks will go after Nancy. He dies, but Nancy lives. He reasons that it’s a fair trade.

Hartigan and Nancy

The last part of the movie deals with Alexis Bledel’s character getting shot by Josh Hartnett’s hitman. The movie comes full circle and you are anxious for the sequel. It should come out in 2013. That’s been way too long.

The movie is in black and white except for what they choose to show in color. Everything that is depicted in color is shown in color for a reason. Sometimes it is a siren illuminating the character, sometimes their eye color is highlighted, and it always important. Everything that is in color is significant. You just have to figure out why.

Sin City is the ultimate comic book movie. It is one of the first films that depicts truly and tastefully what a comic book translation is capable of. This isn’t a movie, it is a comic come to life.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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