Friday Fisticuffs Blu-Review: Machete Kills (2013)

machete kills I get a lot of random PR emails. I’m not sure how I got on some of the lists and a lot of them wind up in the ol’ trash bin, but every now and then I get one I’m really excited about. Once such PR email asked if I’d be interested in a review copy of Machete Kills. Hell yes, of course I was! Life got a bit in the way so this review is going up later than I intended, but I really wanted to add my voice to the choirs praising Robert Rodriguez’s latest film.

I didn’t remember much about the first film and thought about going back and re-watching that one again, but a quick read of my own review helped fill in the blanks. This time around, everyone’s favorite former Federale Machete gets sent on a mission by the president (Charlie Sheen) to find out what bad guy Demian Bichir is up to. As it turns out, he’s about to launch a rocket and has hooked a dead man’s switch up to his own heart. Things don’t go so well for him, but his heart goes on Celine Dion-style.

Eventually we find out that Luther Voz (Mel Gibson) is the real bad guy who also has space-based plans. Guys, there’s a lot going on in this movie. Machete runs afoul of a face-changing killer called The Chameleon played by Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga and Antonia Banderas. Actors like Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Spy Kids star Alexa Vega and Tom Savini return for the fun alongside Rodriguez newcomers Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara and even Vanessa Hudgens.

This film was an over-the-top smorgasbord of awesomeness that oozes with Rodriguez’s style and charm. Every time I watch one of his movies, I can feel how much he enjoys making these things. I can relate to his desire to make a variety of different kinds of art and envy the way he’s figured out how to bring those visions to fruition. He also has the uncanny ability to bring in a variety of famous actors who in this case don’t distract from the story because the whole thing is already ramped up to 11 to begin with.

I haven’t had a chance to go through the deleted and extended scenes at all but the Making Machete Kills featurette on the Blu-ray was pretty great. If you’re not familiar with how Rodriguez makes movies, this will give you a really good idea. If you are familiar, it’s a fun addition to what you already know with this specific cast.

Every time I finish one of Rodriguez’s movies I feel creatively charged and have a renewed respect for and love of movies. This guy is really doing it the way he wants to and I respect that. Plus, he makes super fun movies of which Machete Kills is a great example.

Machete Kills Ramps Up With Clips & Posters Before Debut

After this week we probably won’t hear too much more about Machete Kills because the film debuts this Friday. Before we can start lining up for our tickets, though, director Robert Rodriguez and company have a number of new trailers, clips and posters for us to check out. 

Above you’ve got a nice little Sofia Vergara-specific mini-trailer, while below you’ll find an incredibly NSFW clip of her talking to her loyal army of prostitutes. 

Michelle Rodriguez and Lady Gaga also got in on the short trailer action:

If you prefer your looks at ladies a little more static, then feast your eyes on the latest character poster, this one featuring Alexa Vega’s Killjoy. machete-kills-poster-alexa-vega

And finally, here’s Robert Rodriguez and the cast talking about the network of actors he’s amassed throughout his career. 

If you’re still not interested in Machete Kills, which opens this Friday, you’re pretty much a lost cause. 

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

i-frankenstein-aaron-eckhart-1Aaron Eckhart looks pretty badass in this teaser for the first I, Frankenstein trailer which hits tomorrow. [via Collider]

amber_heard_machete_killsAmber Heard looks ready to handle anything in her solo Machete Kills poster. [via SHH]

hunger games catching fire poster fullSpeaking of dangerous ladies with pointy objects, Jennifer Lawrence wants to shoot you with an arrow in the latest The Hunger Games: Catching Fire poster. [via Moviefone]

Hugh Jackman recently told the world that he’s got a part in Neill Blomkamp’s robot kidnapping drama Chappie. [via Screen Daily]

transformers age of extinction Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack ReynorMichael Bay showed off this picture of Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor from the set of Transformers: Age Of Extinction. [via Michael Bay]

Discovery Channel’s working on an Evel Kineval documentary called True Evel. [via Deadline]

gina carano fast & furious 6Gina Carano’s In The Blood will be distributed by Anchor Bay and Fox home video. In the film, the MMA star goes on a mission to get her kidnapped husband back in the Caribbean. [via THR]

joely richardson nip tuckMaggie, the film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a dad trying to help his daughter played by Abigail Breslin after she gets bit by a zombie, has rounded out the family unit with Joely Richardson joining on as the mom. [via TheWrap]

More Machete Kills Reveals For Your Weekend Enjoyment

Of course, just as soon as we posted about the most recent clips from Machete Kills yesterday we did some more looking around and found even more clips and some brand new images. But, since we don’t want to overload you with Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo craziness, we figured saving some specialness for the weekend would make sense. Above you can see Amber Heard playing Q to Machete’s James Bond as she sets him up with an arsenal of weapons. Meanwhile, below, check out 10 new images from the film featuring Trejo, Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Antonio Banderas, Alexa Vega, Sofia Vergara and more, many of which look like shots from scenes we’ve already seen in various forms.

Machete Kills opens October 11th.

Machete Kills Scores All New Images, Posters & TV Spot

As obvious fans of explosions and over-the-top movie violence we here at Explosions Are Rad are anxiously awaiting the October 11th release of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, the sequel to the 2010 Danny Trejo-starring flick that originally saw life as a fake trailer in Grindhouse. To whet our appetite, Rodriguez released the above batch of images via IndieWire featuring Lady Gaga and Charlie Sheen in international posters, the same basic image of Sheen as the President and then images of Amber Heard in front of all kinds of guns and Michelle Rodriguez working with the director.

But that’s not all! Dig this new TV spot for the film you crazy cats:

That bit where he launches the guy back at a helicopter and it explodes makes us giggle like children every time we see it!

Trejo Answers President Sheen’s Call In Machete Kills Trailer

“The enemy might have a missile, but we have Machete.” That line from the most recent Machete Kills trailer perfectly encapsulates this franchise. It’s cool, it’s bombastic and it’s a little silly.

What started as a fake Grindhouse trailer has turned into a pair of movies with a third in the works. Director Robert Rodriguez reunited with regular collaborator Danny Trejo and also brought in an impressive cast of characters including Michelle Rodriguez, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Lady Gaga, Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jessica Alba and a legion of others.

The plot, if it matters, finds the President (Sheen) asking Machete (Trejo) to stop the bad guy (Gibson) from blowing up Washington, D.C. with a missile. Said bag guy has his own army of “super soldiers” standing between him and our hero. Carnage will certainly ensue.

Machete Kills opens October 11th.

Rad Review: Drive Angry (2011)

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It seems impossible to tell if Nicolas Cage is a good actor. Instead of playing a character, he just controls how much of his inner lunatic he decides to let the camera see. Drive Angry from director Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000, the My Bloody Valentine remake) lets Cage unleash the full flow of insanity as Milton, a guy who escaped hell to get revenge on cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke), who killed his daughter and snatched his grandaughter. Along the way he teams up with Amber Heard’s Piper, a tough young woman without much going on in her life aside from a cheating boyfriend and a crappy waitress job. As they operate their automobile in a perturbed fashion, Milton and PIper also have to stay several steps ahead of The Accountant (William Fichtner), an agent of Hell looking to bring back the escaped Milton.

amber heard drive angryLussier — who co-wrote the script with Todd Farmer (Jason X, the My Blood Valentine remake) — does a great job of having fun with this story. It’s not overly gory, but plenty of blood is spilled and bullets fired. The gore effects that do exist look just as gross as they should considering the wounds inflicted and the over-the-top style of the film. While the movie doesn’t get into hand-to-hand combat too often there’s plenty of excellent driving scenes, lots of gunplay and a few run-ins that show just how silly it is for regular ol’ humans to go up against supernatural entities.

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Actually, Heard gets her fists dirty more than anyone else in the movie and does a pretty serviceable job going up against dudes much bigger than her. She smacks around the woman her boyfriend’s cheating on her with before trying to give him the business end of an ass kicking. Later on, she throws down with King on an RV. After saying he’s going to kill her she drops this fantastic bit of dialog: “Between now and then, I’m gonna f*ck you up.” You might not think it to look at Heard in her other roles, but she delivers it like she means it, then backs it up. Good for her.

When it comes to the chase scenes, of which there many, Lussier gets pretty inventive with the car-eography. After a lifetime of watching car chases on television and in movies, they can get a little boring, but this one uses a lot of fun elements like the Accountant driving a Hydrogen truck into a small army of cop cars, stepping out on a truck and Milton driving just so to avoid the explosion. Sure, it looks a little CGI-y on Blu-ray, but it’s over pretty quickly and the idea is cool enough to outshine some execution flaws.

Speaking of of the Blu-ray presentation, it’s possible this movie looks too good. This is completely subjective, but since the film takes a lot of its cues from the grindhouse flicks of the 70s,  you sometimes want it to look a little less clean and pristine. It’s kind of like listening to a completely remastered version of a live Ramones show. Everything’s still there, but the grit is gone. That’s not to say this is a clean movie, there’s lots of death, carnage and nudity to go around, it all just looks really crisp and clear.

A few other highlights from the film include Tom Atkinson’s role as a local police captain. That guy’s pure gold in everything. Speaking of being great in everything, watching Cage and Fichtner on screen together is delightful. The fact that this is an original story with some big stars and a fairly good effects budget is also cool and something we’re seeing less and less of at the movies. After being disappointed with how Parker didn’t add much to the revenge/heist genre, it’s good to watch something like Drive Angry that did as much as it possibly could with the materials available.

Finally, did anyone see this in 3D? It was shot that way, but the Blu-ray rental from Netflix didn’t have the option. Drop a comment and let us know.

Halloween Scene: The Ward (2010)

Hey Halloween Scenesters, sorry about the lack of posts since Wednesday. I was down in the big bad city covering the New York Comic Con for CBR. I thought about watching some horror flicks either on my laptop or my phone, but after a long day hoofing it around the con floor and the mean streets of NYC, I just wanted to hang back. I did start reading Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box and will hopefully finish up by the end of the month, though I’m not putting any money on that. Anyway, I kind of made up for the lack of posts today by watching three horror movies, starting off with The Ward.

Before today, I had not heard of The Ward. I didn’t know it starred UM favorite Amber Heard (she’s gotten me hundreds, maybe thousands of hits just for mentioning her in Never Back Down) and I especially didn’t know that it was directed by John Carpenter. Essentially, I knew zilch about the movie. And, to be honest, I was a little nervous. I’ve probably only seen about half of Carpenter’s filmography and love the greats like Halloween and The Thing, but after watching The Fog again last week and knowing that many horror directors lose their steam as they age (not a hard and fast rule, but pretty common), I wasn’t sure if it would be any good.

Thankfully, it was. For the most part. The movie’s impossible to talk about without getting into spoilers, so I’ll say now that it’s worth looking at. Okay, SPOILER TERRITORY AHOY! The movie starts off with Heard burning down a house and going to an insane asylum. We’re not sure what happened or why she’s there, which is kind of refreshing. It’s impossible not to think about Sucker Punch while watching this film as it’s also about a bunch of girls in an asylum not set in modern times involving some shady goings on. Of course Ward doesn’t have a pointless, confusing story and giant robot action scenes. Well, thanks to the twist at the end, it might be a bit confusing. It does have a ghost trying to kill off Heard’s fellow patients in the ward, which appears out of nowhere as often as it should and in just the right moments to cause a sufficient amount of scares. Had I been watching this alone at night, I think I’d have been a lot more creeped out.

So you’ve got a spooky flick with scares where a ghost/zombie thing is brutally murdering mentally unstable young women and then you get to the twist ending, See, the reveal here is that all of the characters we’ve seen are representatives of a woman with multiple personalities. The woman is named Alice and she’s the ghost Heard was hunting for. The idea is that Alice was held captive in the house she burned down and developed different personalities to deal with her situation. The doctor at the mental hospital — played by Mad Men‘s Jared Harris — has been doing some radical therapy with Alice to essentially murder the other personalities and make Alice whole again. At first I didn’t like the ending. I hate those finales where it’s like “everything you saw is fake!” except when it makes sense and matters, like The Usual Suspects. The more I thought about The Ward, though, the more I felt like the movie did make sense and does matter because the aspects being knocked off, while seeming good to us from the perspective we were shown, were actually hurting Alice. It only seems like it doesn’t matter on the surface because of the way you watch the film the first time around, but I bet, like Suspects, it makes a whole different kind of sense when you watch the movie a second time. I do look forward to that one day.

Okay, SPOILERS ARE OVER. I do have one general complaint/query about the movie, though. I’m not sure why it was set in the past (early 60s, I think, making Harris’ involvement more meta than intended). What was gained? The threat of electroshock therapy, possibly? Wouldn’t it be believable that an older, modern establishment might still have a facility like that? A mysterious threat like that could have added another layer, like kids being worried about monsters in the dark. Also, while the costumers did a good job of making the characters look like they were set when they were supposed to be, I think everything looked a little too slick or maybe the girls looked a little too modern to really sell the period piece aspect.

Anyway, I’m glad that Carpenter didn’t disappoint. The scares were solid and I was invested in the story. Even if the period wasn’t convincing, the movie looked good and had a style to it. The monster looked great. I cringed several times during kills/attacks. Plus, it’s got an ending that not only made me think about the movie, but also makes me want to watch it again. I’d call that a pretty big success. It was, by far, the best flick I watched today.

Halloween Scene: Zombieland (2009)

It’s really strange write “2009” after a movie and then realizing that was last year. I don’t have the opportunity to write the date much, but it still blows my mind that it’s 2010. Where’s my hover board?!!! Okay, enough of that. I decided after working hard the last two days and this morning, that I would treat myself to a movie at the cheap theaters across the river. So, I got up, got tonight’s dinner in the crock pot, wrote a story for Marvel.com and then went on my way to the Spring Hills Mall in Poughkeepsie. Here’s the thing though, it’s not really a mall and I had a bitch of a time finding the place (it’s around back with a very tiny sign) and there’s another mall in the same general area. Eventually I found my way, paid my $2 and sat down in a theater that reminded me of the AMCs I used to go to as a kid, the kinds with an aisle right down the middle and a 90 person capacity. I thought I was going to be alone throughout the movie, but some people came in right as it was starting and sat behind me which made me paranoid for a second, then I realized that I wasn’t living in a horror movie (hopefully) and chilled out. This one got a little long, so hit the jump for the full review. Continue reading Halloween Scene: Zombieland (2009)