Now, I've gotten ridiculously behind on these things, and I would very much like to take a second to apologize for that. Sometimes life just gets in the way.
With that out of the way, I'll start with the film I saw last night, "Machete:"
imdb summary: Three years ago in Mexico, determined Federale Machete (Danny Trejo) is
betrayed and set-up by his boss, resulting in his wife and child being murdered by drug kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal). Now, in Texas, Machete resurfaces when hired to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), an extreme advocate against illegal immigration. Once again betrayed and set-up, Machete plots his revenge against the men who've wronged him with the help of resistance fighter Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), ICE Agent Sartana (Jessica Alba), and the shotgun-toting Padre (Cheech Marin).
Now, first of all I have to say that this is no oscar winning opus. Don't go in expecting anything overly high-brow because that's just a waste of time. What "Machete" *IS,* however, is silly fun. A spinoff from 2007's "Grindhouse," Machete is the over-the-top story of Machete Hernandez, a federale who is betrayed, his family is killed, is almost killed, and then looks for revenge. I have to applaud Danny Trejo here as further Machete films could give him a shot at a decent leading man run. Trejo does very well as something more than "Prison inmate #164329" and you almost have to figure that this was a role written for him.
I also have to give a degree of credit to Steven Seagal (and no, I never thought I'd write that either) as he really does a good job playing an hispanic drug lord. He can't handle actions scenes to the degree he used to, and as such I'm frankly grateful that he spent much of the movie as a face on the other end of a video call. Speaking of which, Jeff Fahey I hope I see you playing the bad guy again and often. Absolute kudos to the man for a performance that made me WANT to cast him were I making a movie.
Before my rating for Machete, let's take a moment to discuss the movie's eye candy. First is Michelle Rodriguez as Luz. I had a bit of trouble understanding her character because at the beginning of the movie, Torrez (Seagal) implies that he's going to kill Machete's daughter, but we don't know if he actually does or not. When Luz and Machete first meet, it seemed to me as though they implied that Luz is Machete's daughter, but this is never resolved, which irked me a bit. All that being said, Rodriguez does well in the role, but it's a role that we've seen her play time after time after time. Well done, but nothing new.
Jessica Alba did VERY well here as ICE agent Sartana. While the logic of Sartana switching from trying to bring Machete in to siding with Machete against Torrez, Booth, Lt. Stillman and Senator Mclaughlin didn't make a whole lot of sense ... it's, in my mind, more the fault of the writers than Alba herself. When Alba's hispanic accent begins to show, she really does a good job carrying it and making it believable. This was probably the best performance I've seen from Alba since Dark Angel. Oscar worthy? No. Entertaining? Yes.
Finally, Lindsay Lohan. Yes she's topless ... yes it's awesome ... and no, I don't care that it's brief. Unfortunately, beyond this I don't see why Lohan was here (though it may be indicative of the state of her career). She's not in the movie often, but it's fun when she is. That just doesn't have much to do with Lindsay herself.
I dug Don Johnson here and I'm hoping he'll be the main bad guy in the next Machete movie. A Texan isn't a huge stretch for him. Robert De Niro turns in a quality performance as Senator Mclaughlin, though I have to admit that I couldn't help but think that an exploitation movie like this is beneath him.
Overall, Machete is a lot of fun and sprinkled with the occasional "What the fuck?!" moment that makes this a good time to be had. My only complaint here is that I'd really have preferred to see Machete as part of another "Grindhouse" style double feature. It stands alone just fine, but this way would've been more fun.
Rating: Solid Matinee
Next we come to the film I caught this past Thursday, as I was concerned it might be my last opportunity: Scott Pilgrim
imdb Summary: Scott Pilgrim's life is so awesome. He's 23 years old, in a rock band, "between jobs," and dating a cute high school girl. Everything's fantastic until a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable,
roller blading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. But the path to Ms. Flowers isn't covered in rose petals. Ramona's seven evil exes stand between Scott and true happiness. Can Scott defeat all seven of the bad guys and get the girl without turning his precious little life upside-down, before the game is over?
First and foremost, I'm with Korey here. The first twenty minutes of Scott Pilgrim are BORING! Already in a foul mood when I entered the theatre (stuck in traffic and got in *just* in time) I'll readily admit that I nearly walked out as I was desperate for the movie to pick up. Having stuck it out though, I will say that it was absolutely worth it as when the movie picks up, it PICKS UP! If you've yet to see the movie, then when you go (and PLEASE go), I want you to repeat after me, "Just give it a chance, just give it a chance, just give it a chance ..."
I was very impressed with Michael Cera here as this was really the only thing I've ever seen him in where I actually cared to some degree about his character. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does very well as Ramona in that she's not just hot, but creates a character that I'd want to get to know and go out with. I'm happy to admit that I have a new celebrity crush.
I'm not going to break down the individual performances in Scott Pilgrim as I did in Machete simply because I think this is more a case where you take everyone's performance as a whole and look at it that way instead. As a whole, the movie is well acted, and frankly the combined performance is what makes everything work. Everyone is a part of a greater whole, and that's what makes Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a truly great movie.
Another thing I never thought I'd say is this: As romantic films go, I have absolutely no problem ranking Scott Pilgrim right up there with "The Princess Bride" as one of the better love stories I've ever seen. With the fight scenes and video game references, this felt like a love story that guys can comfortably watch. I've weaseled my way out of watching Twilight films, but I would happily take a date to Scott Pilgrim without hesitation. I would also readily admit that I found myself rooting for Scott and Ramona just as I did for Wesley and Princess Buttercup. If one of the seven evil exes had six fingers on their right hand, I'd have no problem calling Scott Pilgrim a modern day Princess Bride.
Is Pilgrim whiney? Yes. Is he clearly incapable of realizing the good things he has right in front of him? Yes. Can the ignorant critics who trashed this masterpiece as "hipster garbage" without actually seeing it kiss the whitest part of my ass? Fuck yes! Fuck them, fuck their reviews, and may those amoral sons of bitches be smacked down by Ramona's giant hammer and turned into piles of coins.
As much as I absolutely loved it, Scott Pilgrim is not a perfect movie. Not at all. But for me the most important thing is this: I went into the movie tired, hungry, and angry. I left the movie energized, satisfied, and feeling like all is right with the world ... life is good ... and so on and so forth. It's not perfect, but it gave me everything I needed and I am desperately hoping it stays in theatres long enough for me to see it with someone special. As such, there is only one rating acceptable for "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World."
Rating: BETTER THAN SEX!!!