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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Movie Revews 2 for 1: Gravity and Machete Kills

Hey there Chaos disciples! Old Man Chaos is back again with another posting. Don't worry, I've been doing my modeling like a good 40K fanatic, and I am looking forward to showing my new stuff as soon as its done. In any event, I managed to see 2 movies this past week. One was a sequel that I have been looking forward to, and the other is a sci-fi movie that's been getting a lot of buzz. Did they live up to expectations, or did they crash and burn? Let us take a look, as I briefly review them:

Machete Kills



When I saw the Grindhouse double feature several years back, I was excited to see what Tarantino and Rodriguez had to offer, as I am a fan of both their work. Ultimately, I was disappointed by Death Proof- its not a bad movie, and has a great car chase scene in the 2nd half of the movie, but I just didn't care for it overall- certainly the weakest from Tarantino's incredibly strong filmography. On the other hand, I really enjoyed Planet Terror- a zombie movie filled with good natured cliches, good scares, and some cool special effects. Plus, it had knockout performances from Josh Brolin, Rose McGowan, Michael Beihn and Jeff Fahey, and I love the "missing reel". Hahaha. But, the best part of the whole enterprise was the "mock teasers", including one for a character called Machete. Now, I was all over that- what a great concept, and a well set up trailer. When Rodriguez said he was going to make a real movie from it, I was thrilled. When my brother and I saw Machete, it certainly had flaws, but I loved it. The action was over the top but bloody, the acting was top notch (Cheech Marin versus Tom Savini- I'm there), and there were political overtones (obvious, but there in an interesting, in your face way) and some clever political commentary. Of course, there was Danny Trejo himself, giving it his all as this insane character. I loved this movie, flaws and all.

So, that brings us to Machete Kills. I was excited for this, and the casting seemed to confirm that this would be something special. And then... I saw the damn thing. This movie was a train wreck, pure and simple. I know that Rodriguez wanted to "defy expectations", but this... was just the wrong way to do it. The humor was absolutely STUPID (President Rathcock. Seriously- Rathcock- that was the cleverest name they could come up with). The action beats were weak and uninteresting. The characters are totally wasted, with threads being brought up and then forgotten about when convenient (and I am furious over what they did to Tom Savini. When I heard he was coming back, I wanted Machete to get revenge on Osiris, but that ain't what we got. At all). An overly complicated plot that was nowhere near as political OR clever as the original. Finally, the movie veered off into sci-fi (yes, you read that right)- but as it veered off there, it began to play as an AUSTIN POWERS SPOOF!! Yes- it felt like a riff on Austin Powers. WTF?!?! Basically, this sucked. Big time. Rarely have I been so disappointed in a movie.

The only redeeming value was the actors. It was clear to me that these guys and gals were giving it all they had. Mel Gibson makes for a good bad guy (forget whatever you think of him personally), he never goes too far over the top, and his eyes show that he absolutely believes in his mad scheme. Demian Bechir on the other hand is perfectly over the top for his warlord with a split personality. Michelle Rodriguez is back as She, and does a great job, as before. Sofia Vegara is also a good foil for the stoic Machete. Then there is Danny Trejo, who IS this character, and he wants this to be great- but I could see it in his eyes- he knew that this script sucked. He gave his all but he knew the truth- nothing he could do would save this movie.

Ultimately, this was bad. It felt like Scary Movie was trying to spoof Austin Powers. That is NOT what Machete is about. I'm giving this a half mark of chaos (and the half was only earned by the actors who tried their damnedest to make this work). Ugh. At least I'll always have the first Machete. Now, perhaps, someone will make a drinking game for this move to make it bearable (but I don't drink, so...). Its a damn shame.



Gravity



This will be a shorter review, because it doesn't have the baggage of Machete for me. Basically, this is a sci-fi movie (kind of) in the best possible way. On the surface, it is about a space mission that goes wrong, but it is much more than that. Its about surviving in a hostile world/universe, in which just about everything can kill you.
A space shuttle and crew is repairing the Hubble Telescope. They are headed up by Kowalsky (George Clooney) and Stone (Sandra Bullock). In the midst of the repair, debris suddenly hurtles its way toward them, doing catastrophic damage to the shuttle. Now, Kowalsky and Stone are on their own- floating in space, desperate to survive in the vacuum of space.

I don't want to say too much more, as I feel this movie should be experienced by yourself and without me blabbing. The special effects are quite frankly, stunning, as is the cinematography (if this doesn't win Oscars in the technical categories, it'll be a crime and a half). You FEEL like you are in space, every step of the way- it looks so vast, that man is just a spec in its darkness. It's amazing. But, the story is compelling too. While it is a primal survival tale, its also a meditation on how people cope, how they survive in a bleak world/universe. Space is beautiful, but oh so deadly- how can we survive in this place? But, more importantly, how can we conquer our fears? Kowalsky and Stone represent two views on this, and it is fascinating to watch this "debate" play out over the movie.

You need to see this movie in 3D Imax if at all possible. This is a movie that these formats are made for. It is well worth the extra ticket price- and this is from a guy that usually hates 3D. The movie is just a sight to behold, and you need to see it on the biggest screen possible.

I give it 4 out of 4 marks of chaos.  My wife and I both loved it, and the images will stick with you long after the movie ends.


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