REVIEW: Machete

Machete
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis
Written by: Robert Rodriguez & Álvaro Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, and Robert DeNiro

The official end of the Summer 2010 movie season roars by with Robert Rodriguez’s blood-splattered message movie Machete.  Originally showcased as a fake trailer at the beginning of the Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse double-feature in 2007, the cult following of this idea pushed it into production.  Now that the final product is here for everyone to see, they may scratch their heads.

For one, Rodriguez has decided to make the full film version of Machete an indictment of U.S. immigration policy.  If that doesn’t throw B-movie gore-seekers off, Robert DeNiro cheesing it up as a Texas Senator yelling “Welcome to America!” as he blasts immigrants at the border might.  You can’t help but laugh at both of these, the latter pleasantly and the former not so much.  It is this battle of the pleasant surprises duking it out with the unpleasant ones that is at the core of Machete.

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REVIEW: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn (screenplay), Mark Millar & John Romita Jr. (comic book)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Aaron Johnson, and Chloe Moretz

The way Kick-Ass was marketed, you’d never know what it was about.  It could be the next raunchy teen comedy, a Scary Movie iteration with super heroes, or a campy exploitation flick.  After seeing this movie, I now know why they could not market it efficiently.  Kick-Ass is all of the aforementioned things, struggling much like a super-hero to find an identity.  At it’s best, it is a rocking reinvention and exploitation of the super hero mythos.  At it’s worst, it is a formulaic teen comedy with shock value language dueling with shock value violence.

The premise of the film is interesting enough.  With caped crusaders invading our pulp culture like cockroaches, why has no one in the real world donned a mask and set out to fight crime?  Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) plays the nerdy philosopher who comes up with this idea, and decides to take action.  He becomes Kick-Ass, a scuba-suit wearing crime fighter who is stabbed and beaten to a pulp his first night on the job.  The answer to his earlier question is answered early on.

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