Machete Kills (2013) BluRay Review

mk1Machete Kills (2013) blu ray review

out Feb 17th (Lionsgate)

 

Director: Robert Rodriguez

 

Starring: Danny Trejo, Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Michelle Rodriguez plus loads more famous actors

 

Plot: Machete (Trejo) returns to seek vengeance on those who have done some horrible deed. Machete and Sartana (Jessica Alba) try to stop a Mexican drug cartel from buying weapons from the US military. Discovering what appears to be a WMD, Sartana is blasted with a laser gun by a masked man, who promptly runs away when the US police arrive. Machete is wrongly arrested for Sartana’s death but is eventually given a ‘free pass’ by the President of the United States (played by ‘Carlos Estevez’ in his big screen ‘debut’). The Prez wants Machete to help stop a man named Mendez (Demain Bichir) who has a nuclear missile that he will fire if the US government don’t assist in stopping all the drug cartels. If Machete does this, he will be granted American citizenship, no questions asked (“None of that hand on bible bullshit” to quote the president). And so Machete goes on another bonkers, all out, action adventure that doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘restraint’…

For those who ‘get’ the charm of Machete Cortez this movie will be an absolute joy. For those that don’t, you may enjoy the countless scantily clad women (or not even that). Machete Kills is one hell of a ride either way.

mk2It starts on a hilarious note with a ‘preview’ for a future Machete sequel titled, rather amusingly, ‘Machete Kills Again…in Space’. Many consider a film franchise having a sequel set in space to be a sign that the producers or studio of said franchise have ran out of ideas. Leprechaun in Space, Critters 4, Jason X and Hellraiser: Bloodline all fall into this trap. But with the Machete character ‘jumping the shark’ is part of the lure and going into space seems like a perfect match for Trejo’s role. The ‘trailer’ features plenty of jokes that will have many laughing within seconds. The best being the announcement that a shoddy looking robot named Bleep will be played by ‘Justin Bieber’. Bleep is promptly destroyed by Machete.

The film itself is not afraid to hold back as it’s often flimsy plot is supported (or greatly enhanced to some) by the usual gore and over-the-top kills. One man has his intestines ripped out of his stomach by Machete and flung into the spinning rotor blades of a helicopter. This causes the rest of his guts to be whipped out of him and wrapped around the blades, yanking him into them and the hapless guy is splattered to pieces. Vergara (of Modern Family fame) is a whorehouse owner named Desdemona who is one of the many trying to kill Machete. She often attempts this by firing knives and bullets from her breasts thanks to her various deadly bra’s. Later she fires from a strap-on gun by thrusting her crotch.

Speaking of breasts, the many shapely women, who wear very little, all fall over themselves to try to have sex with Machete. Miss San Antonio (Heard) gladly jumps on him for a good time which prompts text to flash on-screen advising viewers to put on their 3D glasses (obviously none of the movie is in 3D). Heard, as the beauty queen with a dark side, is stunning with her long flowing blonde hair and pout. Vergara will have many staring at her boobs for the already mentioned reasons (although some viewers would have looked anyway as they are hard to miss). Vanessa Hudgens, of High School Musical fame, is more eye candy. Lady Gaga is also in the movie but her involvement is kept to a minimum, thankfully.

mk3The end of Machete Kills feels as if Robert Rodriguez is trying to see how bonkers he can take his creation. The site of Machete riding a nuclear weapon feels like it is some sort of phallic symbolism that is to illustrate that Machete has a massive penis and is therefore extremely manly and cool (as if this movie and its original can’t make it any clearer that Machete does indeed have a big trouser snake due to his woman shagging, bad guy killing ways). The end also takes the viewer back to ‘Machete Kills Again…in Space’ which must mean Rodriguez feels its ready to take the cliché one step further.

Over the top mindless violence, one-dimensional stereotypes and bimbo women all in one movie that actually works despite its un-PC feel. Yet isn’t that the whole point of a Machete film?

8 out of 10.

Extras include a brief message from ‘Carlos Estevez’, a brief feature on Robert Rodriguez and interviews with various cast and crew members.

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) Review

alltheboys1All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

 Dir: Jonathan Levine 90 min.

Occupant Films

UK release: 15th February 2008

Starring: Amber Heard , Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch.

Though bloodthirsty British/Irish horror fans would’ve had an, admittedly small, chance to catch it back in 2008, inventive indie slasher ‘All The Boys Love Mandy Lane’ is only now getting a proper US release, which is a shame because it really deserves far more attention.

The film stars the strikingly beautiful Amber Heard as the titular heroine, a Final Girl with a difference, whom, as is fairly obvious from the title, is quite desired amongst her peers. We first meet her at a typical high school party, during which her best mate (played by a perfectly emo Michael Welch, of ‘Twilight’ fame) tricks a jock-type into killing himself, in a scene that’s not exactly heavy on gore, but sets the tone perfectly, thanks to some pretty sick sound effects.

We’re then thrust into more familiar territory as, months later, Mandy agrees to stay in a remote farmhouse, with a group of stock character teen types – most of whom are sporting boners for her – and, soon enough, they are being picked off one by one by some unknown, masked assailant.

alltheboys2The interesting thing about ‘Mandy Lane’ is that, for the most part, it plays like the standard issue slasher fare. There’s the virginal, hot girl, front and centre throughout, who spends most of her time running away from a hooded, masked serial killer, while her peers, from the stoner to the slut, take turns freaking out or refusing to believe anything is really wrong. However, it’s almost the antithesis to the subgenre, as everything is turned on its head when the killer’s identity is revealed to us early on in the proceedings.

Filmed on location in Austin, Texas, the film is sun-drenched in the same manner as the classic ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and, although the kills are far less gruesome, they are effective and reasonably inventive – this is not just some dude with a knife, this is somebody with a real, genuine motive. A twist in the final act, though you may see it coming, still packs a significant punch, especially within the somewhat diluted subgenre, which all too often relies on the most obvious, yet least believable, conclusion.

‘Mandy Lane’ retains its serious tone throughout, but, rather impressively, it manages to resist the urge to make any kind of statement about high school, teenage crushes or anything else – very little is explained once the twist has been revealed, and it ends on a rather clever note.

Director Jonathan Levine has since dipped his toe into sort-of horror with last year’s fairly decent zombie love story Warm Bodies, but it’s Mandy Lane that showcases his love for the genre. The cinematography is gorgeous, and everything is handled with care, even in the most horrible moments.

mandylane_02‘Mandy Lane’ is a slasher that turns the idea itself on its head, in much the same way that ‘Scream’ did by killing its star, Drew Barrymore, in the opening sequence. It should be the same old shit we’re used to, but thanks to a great setting, an inventive twist, two strong central performances from the gorgeous Heard, alongside Welch as her tortured best mate, and a cast of dumb beauties whom it’s incredibly fun to pick off one by one, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane manages to be a fresh, entertaining, and suitably spooky entry to this, often unfairly, derided subgenre.

 Rating 9/10