Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Machete; thinking you're hilarious isn't enough

I'm kind of glad I didn't see Machete at the cinema, because I'd have felt shortchanged. I feel kind of shortchanged having paid a fiver to buy the DVD. Of course, it was stupid of me to expect to feel any other way. It's the extension to ridiculous length of an intentionally stupid fake trailer stuck into the middle of Tarantino and Rodriguez' Grindhouse. As a cinema in-joke, it was hilarious. As a full length movie, it's a bad idea.

How bad is it? I tuned out for the climax. Let me make this clearer. I tuned out for the climax, which was about thirty minutes ago in real time and I can't actually remember what I did instead. That's how not gripping Machete got.

How does it all go wrong? How do you get a clever director with a simple premise and a celebrity cast to make a dumb fun action movie this uninvolving? Tough question, but it I had to boil it down, I'd say that a movie has to have either good characters or an awful lot of explosions, and Machete didn't spend enough time at the explosion store.

There is, kind of, a plot, but it's mostly there as an excuse for a bunch of setpieces pulled out of movies which had an actual excuse for being bad. All those bad old grindhouse crapfests that Rodriguez is paying homage to were bad because a bunch of guys with no money made them in a tearing hurry before someone came to take the camera back off them. Rodriguez had tonnes of money and all the time in the world, and made the damn thing bad on purpose to echo the originals. This isn't so bad it's good; it's just not good.

There IS a lot of blood. The movie's called Machete after all, so people get all kinds of edged weapons stuck in them, when they're not being shot, crucified or blown to bits. The one really clever bit has Machete attacking a mook with a weedwhacker; if the movie had maintained that tone throughout, it would perhaps have been as much fun as everyone making it seemed to think it would be. Maybe the dumbest thing about extending a fake trailer is that Rodriguez seems to have felt obliged to fit every single image from the trailer into the movie, even though the trailer was completely incoherent. The incoherence then infects everything else. The funny thing about that is that I've seen loads of trailers which had scenes in them that never made it into the movie. The trailer was only sacred in the director's mind, but he treated it like the source material of a Harry Potter adaptation.

Well that's an hour or so of my life I'm never getting back. I suppose I ought not to count the three quarters of an hour or so I spent doing something else, whatever the hell THAT was. Something more useful than the second half of Machete, but that doesn't narrow the field much.

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