Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Machete Review: Would you like a Machete?

Film can be a ridiculous medium. There are essentially no limits to what you can do with it if you have the vision and the determination to accomplish it, particularly in today’s world of CGI and visual effects that can be done quickly and cheaply if you know what you’re doing. It’s kind of mind boggling the things that you can do. Essentially you’re only limited by your imagination. So then of course the only question becomes, how good is your imagination? Sometimes what you envision doesn’t hold up when you put it into practice. I’ve seen that happen more than a few times. A film can also exceed the vision originally thought of, whether it’s by the filmmakers themselves or the audience’s expectations of those films.

Then you have those films that you’re not entirely sure how to feel about them. The films that you know have a good reputation and a loyal fan base but you never really got around to seeing. I have a number of such films on a rather long metaphorical list, some of which I have actually checked out after starting my blog. One of those films is Machete and I recently got a chance to see it thanks to my ongoing quest for content I can provide to my blog. It feels really good to get that kind of stuff off my “to do” list.

Perhaps to begin, I think it’s worth saying that I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work. Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2, as well as Inglorious Basterds are high up there on the list of films I really admire as both an avid film fan and a writer/filmmaker myself. I wouldn’t count myself as one of his biggest fans though. While I enjoy his films I sometimes have trouble dealing with the gratuitous nature of the violence in his work. I’m not opposed to violence in film. I’m not even necessarily opposed to excessive violence in films as long as it serves the story. What often bothers me is when the violence is a little too over the top for it to serve the story. Suspension of disbelief is a necessary part of watching a movie, but unrealistic violence, even the kind that is intentionally created within the world of the story, can be just as damaging to my ability to believe something as a character or an actor acting unnaturally in a given situation.

Robert Rodriguez is someone I am less familiar with as a storyteller, although he did make two films that I very much enjoyed, namely Sin City and The Faculty. Watching Machete however, I think it often came off like a Tarantino film directed by another director, and that’s not always a good thing. This is not to say that Machete isn’t a well done film. By all accounts the story is relatively solid, the acting was decent and the political angle is pretty much right up my alley. Where I think the film loses me though is that it’s just not my kind of film. Grindhouse films aren’t something I really ever got into at any point and Machete was an off-shoot of the whole Planet Terror/Death Proof double bill. Not every great film from the past catches my fancy. About a year or so back I managed to catch Scarface for the first time and I got kind of bored watching it.

By no means was I bored watching Machete, however it feels like they made their point early on in the film and then just kept going, and going, and going. The only thing that kept it going is the increasing need for violence to solve people’s problems. That and beautiful women going around doing stuff. As a guy, that’s worth watching, but as a storyteller it just doesn’t keep me going. So…

Would you like a Machete? Because I am thinking I might just pass on the sequels.

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