Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Ok this post can be put in the ‘incredibly late’ file, but I only got to watch ‘Grindhouse’ for the first time last night, so despite the lateness, here are my thoughts anyway:

I loved ‘Planet Terror’. It was exactly what I was expecting. Have you ever heard anyone say a film was ‘so bad it was good’? Well that fits ‘Planet Terror’ perfectly. What makes it even more impressive is that while a lot of films are simply bad and just luck into ‘so bad its good’ territory, ‘Planet Terror’ was made that way deliberately.

In the same way it takes a really good actor to play a bad actor, it’s the same in movies like this. It’s hard to make a movie ‘so bad that it’s good’ without ending up with something that’s just plain bad.

The effects and visual styling were pure grindhouse cinema as well. Again, this must have been difficult to achieve because some effects needed to be state of the art while others, for stylistic reasons, had to be obviously fake.

For example, the effects on Rose McGowan’s ‘machine gun leg’ were so good that you very quickly forget that Rose McGowan does indeed have two normal legs. However, in some scenes you see her flying through the air in front of explosions that look state of the art… if it was 1970.

‘Bad’ as a style choice. It sounds strange, but it just works. It’s a perfect blend of ‘modern’ effects mixed with some totally over the top 70’s style elements. I particularly liked the bullet hits. According to ‘Planet Terror’, a hit to any part of your body will result in a full-on blood explosion. In this movie, the average shoulder contains about 15 pints of blood under high pressure.

It’s the same with the acting. Certain scenes were perfectly overacted. It wasn’t long before you forgot that this was a recent movie and not something made on a shoe string budget in the 70’s. It takes a lot of skill, money and expertise to make something look so deliberately cheap and amateurish.

Oh, and the faux ‘trailers’ put in at the start were absolutely amazing…especially the one for ‘Machete’ that could actually out 70’s the actual 70’s.

‘Death Proof’, the second movie, however was a little disappointing.

Just to be clear, once it got going, it was actually a little bit better than ‘Planet Terror’. Unfortunately, the entire first half of this movie was a complete waste of time.

Basically, the first 45 minutes of this 90 minute movie is just a bunch of girls talking. Girls talking in a car, girls talking in a bar, girls talking outside the bar.

Let me be clear here, I’m not saying this in a ‘screw talking, get to the explosions’ way. I mean all this talk had absolutely nothing to do with the story. It’s nothing but vacuous small talk and pointless back story we don’t need (or want) to know.

If these girls were going to be the stars all the way through, the amount of attention they received would have definitely been excessive but at least necessary. However, these girls were nothing more than cannon fodder that were used to introduce Kurt Russell’s character before getting killed off.

Do we really need to know that one of these girls is a DJ? Do we care that one of them has a stormy relationship with a boyfriend we never see? Do we really care that they went to highschool with another girl and didn’t get along with eachother?

Long story short, the first half of ‘Death Proof’ is like watching a heist movie where we spend the first 45 minutes getting an in-depth look at ‘Bank Guard Number 3’s life before he gets arbitrarily killed off during the robbery. We don’t need to know, we don’t want to know and put simply, it shouldn’t be in the movie.

After watching the girls talk for 45 minutes and then see them get killed, the next sequence starts and we have a whole new set of girls that have absolutely nothing to do with the first part of the movie.

It’s especially annoying because after the lightning-pace and constant action of ‘Planet Terror’, it really does just drag. If the girls from the first part were especially sympathetic and we were made to care for them, it might have increased the payoff at the end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. It is, quite frankly, a relief when they get killed because watching them talk about who’s getting that night’s weed is just so fucking boring. Especially considering it has absolutely nothing to do with the story.

Once the second half starts, it’s back to more pure movie magic. It’s gripping, intense and darkly funny. Kurt Russell’s character is just plain amazing and the payoff at the end is awesome.

Yes, this new set of girls do talk for a while, but this time they’re actually interesting, funny…and most importantly, what they talk about has a direct bearing on the story. The girls from the first half bore you to tears and you actually look forward to them getting killed. The girls from the second half engage you and make you root for them.

I’ve got to say I like a movie where a guy has just tried to commit vehicular homicide on a stranger just because it’s ‘fun’… and then cries like a little girl when he gets a flesh wound on his shoulder… and actually says ‘Be careful, my right arm’s broken’ when his intended victims haul him bodily out of his car.

I think it says something for Kurt Russell’s acting ability that he can effortlessly sell a character who would try to kill you for no reason and then expect you to accept a ‘no hard feelings? I was just playing!’ when you have him at your mercy.

Basically, when it comes to ‘Death Proof’, my advice is to just take my word for it that Kurt Russell’s character is a psycho who enjoys killing women with his car…and skip directly to the second half of this movie…you won’t miss a goddamned thing and the second half is definitely worth it.

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