Monday, April 23, 2007

If you look at the title you may know exactly what this post will be about, the two newest movies I've seen, Grindhouse and Hot Fuzz. Now finals start here in a little over a week so the only movie I'll be seeing in that time is Spider-Man 3 (cause I ain't missing that for nothing) so I wanted to get a couple of movies in since I haven't been in awhile and won't be going for awhile, so between Thursday and Friday I spent over 5.5 hours in the theater. While I'd love to say it was for you good readers, it's simple not true, because A)there's only like 5 of you and 2)I love movies and it was all for myself.

So let's get to it:

I've been waiting to see Grindhouse for awhile now. I was waiting for a friend of mine, but he's busy with his kids and family so I went alone before it left the local theater. For those who don't know Grindhouse is a 3+ hour extravaganza of blood, gore, zombies, car wielding maniacs, lost reels, and fake trailers. Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, The Faculty, Desperado) and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) each shot a 70ish minute film as an homage to the cheap 70s exploitation flix that used to travel from town to town showing in rundown theaters that were called Grindhouse theaters. These films were known for their violence, nudity, cheap effects, and campy dialogue.
So how does this movie compare to those? Well Rodriguez got it right with his film, Planet Terror, but Tarantino missed the boat with his half, Death Proof. And the fake trailers that fit in between were spot on.
First off a warning, if you are offended by coarse language or extremely (fake) gore then don't see this movie. Also there is a bit of nudity, although only in the fake trailers, so be warned of that.
Planet Terror
This is the first of the two flicks and Rodriguez does a great job of capturing the old 70s feel. The entire movie is dark, with the perfect amount of campy dialogue, and has been artificially aged so that there are hiccups in the film, and lines running down the screen off and on throughout so that it has that old worn film feel to is. Also there is a great scene halfway through the film where the film "burns" and then there's a missing reel which leaves out a few key scenes.
The movie deals with a mysterious gas that turns people into Zombies. The gas has something to do with the military and Bin Laden, but doesn't really matter, because all we need to know is that it turns people into ZOMBIES, and that's basically the premise of the movie, a small town next to a military base dealing with Zombies.
After the gas has been released the hospital slowly fills up with people who have been affected before all hell breaks lose and the few remaining survivors must band together to fight off the army of undead which will soon spread across the entire country if not the planet. Luckily they have a biochemical engineer on hand who can use the blood of the unaffected to create an antidote.
It's your typical zombie movie filled with cheesy ball antics, laugh out loud bad dialogue , and lots and lots of Gore. But the cast is where the movie really shines, as everyone and their sister is in this movie. The movies main characters are played by Rose McGowan, Freddie Rodriguez (no relation), Micheal Biehn, and Jeff Fahey. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Lost's Naveen Andrews, Josh Brolin, Electra & Elise Avellan (See Sisters), Stacy Ferguson ("Fergie"), Marley Shelton, Quentin Tarantino, and Bruce Willis. (If you want links to all these people just go the the Grindhouse link and find their name, they are in alphabetical order on the cast list)
Bottom Line: This movie does exactly what it aims to do, which is to look and feel like an old grindhouse film from the 70s. By shooting a dark film and artificially aging the film Rodriguez captures the fill perfectly. The movie is funny, cheesy, and full of gory death and is a fun ride from beginning to end.
Grade: A.

The Fake Trailers
I won't go into detail other than to say that there are 4 fake trailers. I give them a combined grade of A-.

Death Proof
Tarantino brings to us the story of a serial killer who uses his car as his weapon. It sounds like a great Grindhouse flick, and I think it could have been, but unfortunately this is not that Grindhouse flick. No instead this is classic talky Tarantino, in fact it's far to talky. The movie starts with 4 girls chatting about love, life, sex, etc. The girls chat in their car, then they talk at a restaurant, and finally for a change of pace they, Wait for it, talk at a bar. Finally it is at this bar we meet Stuntman Mike, the aforementioned serial killer, played by the great Kurt Russell, and after we meet Stuntman Mike there's more talking. In this first act, Tarantino, like Rodriguez, uses hiccups, a missing reel, and some grindhouse-y effects, unfortunately he doesn't use it very well, more on this later.
Finally SM Mike gets in his car, a special stunt vehicle made to withstand any kind of damage but keep the driver alive, a car that is in fact Death Proof, hence the title. And finally we get some action, a spectacular car chase that ends in bloody, gory death.
And then we're back to talking, first with some police, then a new set of girls. This is where we are finally introduced to the heroines of the story. 2 Actresses, a hairdresser, and Stunt Woman, Zoe Bell, as herself. Finally we're sure to get some action! Wrong we get more talking, followed by more talking, followed by talk about an amazing fabled car, a car that just happens to be for sale a few miles, then more talking.
We do get some action as one of the actresses, the hairdresser, and Zoe Bell take the fabled car out to do some dangerous road stunt. A stunt that involves Mrs. Bell tying two straps to the front car doors and grabs them, lying on the hood as the actress drives down a dirt road. Hopefully you see where this is going as SM Mike sees the girls and a brilliant 20 minuteish car chase ensues.
Finally the movie turns on the goodness as the chase ends badly for SM Mike and and the girls turn the tables on him.
I liked this movie, I really did, but it's not a good fit for the Grindhouse double feature. For the second half of the movie Tarantino completely throws out all of the Grindhouse effects, it shot in Texas on a bright sunny day, and looks and feels like a modern movie. And lets be honest Grindhouse flicks don't involve a lot of dialogue, and the small amount they do have is usually awful.
Bottom Line: This movie brings down the grade on Grindhouse. Had this been a new movie all on it's own it would be really enjoyable, although still probably a little too talky. But as part of a double feature it doesn't fit.
Grade: (By Itself) B (Here) C+

Hot Fuzz
I'm a huge fan of Shaun of the Dead. This is important because it's the people behind that movie which bring us the Glory that is Hot Fuzz. The British duo of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg use their love of American over the top Cop movies such as Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Pointe Break, and of course Bad Boys 2 to bring us this wonderful homage. As with Shaun they not only poke fun at the genre but also infuse it with new blood. Once again Wright directs and co-writes with Pegg, and once again they bring along their good friend Nick Frost.
Hott Fuzz begins with London police officer Nick Angel (Pegg) the finest cop on the force, being told he's being promoted to Sergeant and dispatched to Sanford, the most peaceful, crime-free village in the country. The reason he's being shipped off is that he's too good, so good in fact that his arrest record is 400% higher than anyone on the force, and he's making them look bad.
So Angel moves to Sanford, and quickly begins arresting citizens, including one drunk driver, who turns out to be his new partner, PC Danny Butterman (Frost). Soon after Angel arrives there are several " fatal accidents" which Angel determines to be murders. The rest of the town's police force chalk it up to Angel's overzealous nature and being used to the criminals of London.
The emotional center of the movie is the relationship between Angel and Butterman. Butterman teaches Angel how to relax, drink beer and watch Movies like Bad Boys 2. As their friendship develops Angel learns how to be more than just a cop, but also how to be an actual human being. It's the hetero-love story of these two that makes the movie so believable, even as the death scenes take it over the top with gore.
Bottom Line: This movie is a hilarious comedy, an edge of your seat mystery, and a heart pounding action movie all rolled into one. But here's the true testament to how much I enjoyed this movie. As soon as it was over I was ready to see it again. I immediately went out and bought the soundtrack, and I know that I'll be heading back to the theaters to see it again in the next couple of weeks (Read "After Finals") And that my readers, shows just how much fun I had in this movie.
Grade: A


Daniel Common said...

I concur, I laughed so hard and the killings were awesome.

The CineManiac said...

My personal favorite moment from Hot Fuzz might be the one involving former James Bond, Timothy Dalton, and a Steeple!

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