Written by: Fanboy Comics
Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon shares her thoughts on the DVD release of Robert Rodriguez’s exploitation homage, Machete.
As a continued foray into the B-movie and exploitation films of the seventies, Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 Machete more than delivered in tastelessness and violence. Originally opening in theatres in September of 2010, the film was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 4, 2011. The feature-length film is an expansion of a fake trailer created for Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 Grindhouse double-feature, and, encouraged by their rabid fan base, it was quickly developed into a star-studded action movie. Despite a cast that was riddled with Hollywood heavy-hitters and a story that included the uber-controversial immigration reform debate, Machete succeeded only in extending the same violence, nudity, and crudeness as was captured in its trailer.
For director Robert Rodriguez, Machete was a project that was long in the making. As a long-time friend and fan of actor Danny Trejo, who has made appearances in almost (if not) all of Rodriguez’s films, the director had intended to create an action film that encapsulated a Latin feel while geared towards a larger audience. Although a script for the film was written in 2003 by Rodriguez, his full production plate kept him from focusing on the film until his shared Grindhouse project with long-time partner Quentin Tarantino in 2007. A fake trailer for the Machete was included in the B-movie extravaganza, featuring actors including Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Jeff Fahey, all Rodriguez standards. Over the next three years, Rodriguez assembled his cast, starting with the Oscar-winning Robert DeNiro. After securing such a big-named actor, the remaining casting came easily. The final cast of Machete finally formed, including actors of the likes of Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Tom Savini (another continued Rodriguez player), and the “prolific” Lindsay Lohan.
Despite being received by critics with average and mostly positive reviews, Machete may have been better suited as a messy, raunchy, and tongue-in-cheek fake trailer. Many of Rodriguez’s loyal grindhouse fanbase will disagree with me, but I recently watched the DVD release of the film and was not impressed by the 100 additional minutes. For me, the violence and nudity that was added to form the feature film was far outweighed by slow (even dragging) dialogue performed by a number of sub-par actors. (I actively chose not to see The Fantastic Four to avoid Jessica Alba’s poor attempt at acting, so why would Machete make that any different?) I had the opportunity to watch the original Machete trailer in the theatre as it was intened, as part of the Grindhouse double-feature. The trailer added to the B-movie experience set forth by Tarantino and Rodriguez, but I was not one of the many theatre-goers who cheered at the idea of an extended film. Ultimately, I felt as though I received everything that I needed from the trailer: Danny Trejo was a bada$$ and lots of violence. Throw in some nudity and a plot surrounding illegal immigration, and you had yourself a trailer! What else was there to mine from this idea? Admittedly, I am not a big fan of exploitation or B-movies; I have watched a few select films and enjoyed them for their purpose, but I am not someone who revels in bad acting, over-the-top violence, and unnecessary nudity.
Although I could recap the plot and performances of the film and dissect their faults, I won’t, for the simple reason that Machete was not intended to be an Oscar-winning feature. The film found its audience of whom no doubt enjoyed the aforementioned violence, exploitation, and raunchiness. These theatre-goers were neither buying their tickets hoping for a well-developed plot nor Shakespearean acting skills. While I did not enjoy the movie, I know that it has its audience and I have no problem with that audience enjoying the film for what it is. I am just glad that I didn’t have to spend money on a ticket!
Fanboy Comics was founded in early 2010 by Bryant Dillon, Sam Rhodes, and Barbra Dillon. The company’s first graphic novel, Something Animal, will be released in 2011.