Tag Archives: Robert Rodriguez

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) Review

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence
Cast:
George Clooney as Seth Gecko
Quentin Tarantino as Richard “Richie” Gecko
Harvey Keitel as Jacob Fuller
Juliette Lewis as Katherine Fuller
Ernest Liu as Scott Fuller
Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium
Cheech Marin as Border Guard/Chet Pussy/Carlos
Danny Trejo as Razor Charlie
Tom Savini as Sex Machine
Director: Robert Rodriguez

On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid, loose-cannon brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), hightail it to the Mexican border. Kidnapping preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, the criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a topless bar. Unfortunately, the bar also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires, and the brothers and their hostages have to fight their way out.

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I remember watching From Dusk Till Dawn years ago, it had a big reputation for starting off as a crime movie and then halfway through turns into a bloodbath of a vampire movie. It wasn’t that much of a surprise to me, I knew that going in. And in knowing that, it really worked for me and was a very entertaining movie. It’s a violent and bloody grindhouse/B movie that’s a lot of fun.

From Dusk Till Dawn is a very B movie and it wholeheartedly embraces that. As I said, From Dusk Till Dawn is known for basically being two halves of very different movies. The first half is a violent crime movie (probably a typical Tarantino crime film) following the Gecko Brothers (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) as they take a family hostage. The second half is a bloodbath of a vampire movie. I guess I would hide this as for some it was an absolute surprise but its practically a well known fact at this point that it’s not really worth it. As for which half you’ll prefer, I don’t really know. I will say that going in I was more expecting the vampire movie, so I was kind of waiting for that section to come up for a while. Quentin Tarantino wrote the script and you can really feel like it’s his writing throughout, especially with the dialogue. In a way, Tarantino’s writing and Rodriguez’s direction were a perfect match for this kind of story.

The cast for the most part does well. George Clooney gives quite possibly my favourite performance of his. Gone is the charismatic and charming Clooney that would be appear in even his criminal roles like Danny Ocean, here he is a straight up ruthless criminal who still remains likable despite it. Quentin Tarantino despite being a very talented writer and director does get a bit of a bad wrap when it comes to his acting, especially in this movie. I personally think he was actually alright here, no he’s not really that great of an actor but his character Richard Gecko who’s an unstable psychopath, he pulls it off well enough. Maybe other actors could play the part and do it better but he does the job okay. The hostage family is played by Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu, who really play the only redeemable characters in the whole movie, and they did quite well (although Liu is a cut below Keitel and Lewis). We do get some other actors in smaller roles but do their part to stand out, with Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin and Tom Savini being some of them. And of course we have Salma Hayek, who is only in a couple scenes but is one of the most memorable parts of the movie (granted its mostly because of a dance she does around the halfway point but still).

Robert Rodriguez directs this movie, and as typical of (non Spy Kids) Rodriguez, the action is entertaining and really bloody. Early on, when the violence is present, its bloody but it’s kind of disturbing at the same time. In the vampire segment however, it goes really over the top with the gore and its just really entertaining to watch. There is a lot of practical effects used for the gore and its very creative and impressive. These representations of vampires aren’t the Dracula kind of vampires, these are the absolutely grotesque and monstrous kind of vampires. The reason that this movie didn’t get an NC-17 rating is that they turned the vampire blood from red to green, and I guess it worked (and made it stand apart from the other representations of vampires even more).

From Dusk Till Dawn probably isn’t for everyone. The switch from crime to horror in the halfway point did put off some people, you might end up digging one segment much more than the other, I can’t say for certain. If you’re up for a weird and violent action horror movie written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez however, I’d say give it a go.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) Review

Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & sex scenes.
Cast
Mickey Rourke as Marv
Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan
Josh Brolin as Dwight McCarthy
Eva Green as Ava Lord
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny
Rosario Dawson as Gail
Bruce Willis as John Hartigan
Powers Boothe as Senator Roark
Dennis Haysbert as Manute
Ray Liotta as Joey
Stacy Keach as Alarich Wallenquist
Jaime King as Goldie and Wendy
Christopher Lloyd as Kroenig
Jamie Chung as Miho
Jeremy Piven as Bob
Christopher Meloni as Mort
Juno Temple as Sally
Director: Robert Rodriguez

The damaged denizens of Sin City return for another round of stories from the mind of Frank Miller. In “Just Another Saturday Night,” Marv (Mickey Rourke) struggles to recall a nasty run-in with some frat boys. In “A Dame to Kill For,” Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) forsakes his battle with his inner demons to help Ava Lord (Eva Green), the woman of his dreams and nightmares. In “Nancy’s Last Dance,” Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), mad with grief and rage over Hartigan’s death, vows revenge.

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I am a big fan of the original Sin City, with its comic booky style and direction. For a while there was talks of a Sin City sequel and it was a little worrying as it took 9 years for it to actually get made, which didn’t look good at all. A Dame to Kill For finally dropped in 2014, to some mixed reception, seemingly disappointing even some of the fans of the original. Despite the mixed reception surrounding the sequel I really liked it. A lot of what made the original to be great is here, from its direction, talented actors and more. It’s not as great as the original, most of it being due to the stories not being quite as great or interesting, but it is still a very solid movie overall.

Like in the first Sin City, the sequel has multiple stories and also like with the original, the stories aren’t necessarily presented in chronological order, if you’ve watched the original Sin City you will be used to it. The stories follow Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Dwight (Josh Brolin) and Nancy (Jessica Chastain), along with a brief storyline for Marv (Mickey Rourke). I overall liked all of the stories but they aren’t as interesting as the original. Out of all the main stories, only Dwight’s story is from a prewritten novel (that being A Dame to Kill For). The Nancy storyline is a continuation from her story from the original, the Johnny storyline is completely new and Marv is here because he’s a fan favourite (although he does make enjoyable appearances in the other stories as well). It’s unfortunate that the weakest storyline is the titular Dame to Kill For storyline, which does receive the most attention. It has its moments and is good enough but I’m not quite sure if I’d call it great enough. Overall though, this movie is quite similar to the original, and I had a great time with it.

Many of the original cast returns, with Mickey Rourke as Marv, Jessica Alba as Nancy, Rosario Dawson as Gail and others. They are all great, with Mickey Rourke’s Marv effortlessly being a standout. A surprising part of the movie is Jessica Alba, she was fine in the first movie as Nancy but here she actually is really good here, as Nancy since the first film has been going through a lot, and it was great seeing the change that she goes through. Powers Boothe was also a stand out here, he was in the original film for like one scene, but here he is a lot more prominent and has such a villous screen presence. Along with returning actors, there are also some talented new actors who are involved. Clive Owen was Dwight in the first Sin City but in this movie Josh Brolin is in his role and he does a very great job. Joseph Gordon Levvitt plays a brand new character named Johnny and he definitely owned his role, perfect casting. Eva Green plays Ava, the ‘Dame to Kill For’. Eva really was the perfect actress for the role. There’s not much complexity in terms of the actual character and is pretty much just a Femme Fatale, but then again the character in the original graphic novel is like that, so I can’t really blame her. All the actors do a good job, even the one scene actors like Ray Liotta and Christopher Lloyd make a solid impression.

A Dame to Kill For, like for the first Sin City has a unique style and it returns here, Robert Rodriguez directs this film well. The action is beautiful, violent, brutal and entertaining. The colour pallet is similar to the first movie’s, mostly black and white with some objects coloured (like red blood and a blue dress). As I said in my review of the first movie, it is the most accurate adaptation of a graphic novel, it’s whether you’re a fan of that style or not. And yes, like the first film it is gratuitously violent, and the action overall is just as entertaining. I will say that there is occasionally some really fake looking CGI (which didn’t really happen much in the original) but that doesn’t happen too often and doesn’t distract too much from the overall movie.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a solid follow up to the original Sin City, if not being quite on the same level. It’s pretty much what you would expect from a Sin City movie with its characters, style and structure. Aside from it feeling maybe a little too much like the original and a couple technical aspects, the main thing holding it back from being as good as the original is that the stories aren’t as strong. If you liked the first Sin City I recommend at least giving the sequel a go. If you didn’t like the first Sin City don’t even bother, nothing here is going to change your mind.

Planet Terror (2007)

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Planet Terror

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling
Freddy Rodriguez as Wray
Josh Brolin as Dr William Block
Marley Shelton as Dr Dakota Block
Jett Fahey as J.T.
Michael Biehn as Sheriff Hague
Naveen Andrews as Abby
Bruce Willis as Lieutenant Muldoon
Director: Robert Rodriguez

In Texas, a gang lead by a black market dealer Abby (Naveen Andrews) faces a group of renegade militaries leaded by Captain Muldoon (Bruce Willis). During their shootout, Abby shoots a recipient of biological weapon, which releases an experimental gas that turns humans to flesh-eating zombies. When the outbreak affects most of the local population, a group of people lead by the mechanic Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), Sheriff Hague (Michael Biehn), the stripper Cherry (Rose McGowan) and Dr. Dakota (Marley Shelton) fight to survive and become the last hope to save the world.

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Planet Terror is the first part in the Grindhouse pack, paired with Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. As I pointed out in my Death Proof review, Quentin Tarantino’s movie unfortunately failed to entertain or interest me in the slightest and ended up as a bore. Planet Terror however is very entertaining and knows exactly what it is supposed to be. It’s a blood and gore drenched ride that doesn’t have a dull moment that will be entertaining for those who will be able to stomach it.

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The movie can be cheesy but that adds to the style; nothing is played straight. To give you an idea of the level of how unrealistic it can be, Rose McGowan’s character’s character has her leg removed (not spoiling anything) and near the end of the movie has a gun attached to where it should be before shooting a whole lot of zombies without even pulling the trigger. It is also at times self aware, in fact that there is a moment in the film where the screen shows ‘Missing film reel’ in the middle of a scene. The dialogue in exploitation movies are often bad, but here it’s quite good, if a bit cheesy at times. The film isn’t just constant action and violence, it has explosive moments, hilarious moments, disgusting moments and occasionally, shocking moments. There were some scenes which I felt could’ve been cut out (most notably one with a child and a gun) which wouldn’t have really changed the movie but overall the writing is actually better than most exploitation movies.

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Exploitation movies don’t really have great performances (they are in fact bad most of the time) but Planet Terror does have some decent performances. Rose McGowan does a pretty good job as the main character, even better when she’s in the action scenes with her gun-leg. Other actors like Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn, Marley Shelton and Josh Brolin are also good in their roles.

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This is so far the bloodiest movie I’ve seen and I’ve seen Kill Bill and Django Unchained. All of the zombies are really designed with a lot of detail and are made as disgusting as possible. Like Death Proof, this does have a hazy camera filter but this time it stays throughout the whole movie and in my opinion, is used much better. The action scenes are well filmed, though keep in mind a lot of it is intentionally blown out of proportion, though you’ve probably figured that out already; they were never going for any realism (I once again draw attention to the gun for a leg).

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It is a better tribute to exploitation movies than Death Proof. The reason I give this film a higher score than most people would rate it is because of how it managed to entertain me. It’s not a movie that I think everyone should watch; if you hate these types of movies, nothing’s going to change your mind. However, if you are a fan of Grindhouse movies, it’s worth checking out, I haven’t watched any exploitation movies before and I had a great time with it. This movie isn’t great and isn’t going to win awards but it was never meant to; what makes it entertaining is the fact that it knows what it’s supposed to be and it delivers in that regard.

Sin City (2005)

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Sin City

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Director: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Cast:
Mickey Rourke as Marv
Clive Owen as Dwight
Bruce Willis as Hartigan
Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan
Benicio Del Toro as Jackie Boy
Brittany Murphy as Shellie
Elijah Wood as Kevin

Three tales of crime adapted from Frank Miller’s popular comics which focuses around Marv (Mickey Rourke), a muscular brute who’s looking for the person responsible for the death of his true love, Goldie; Dwight (Clive Owen), a man fed up with Sin City’s corrupt law enforcement who takes the law into his own hands after a mistake and Hartigan (Bruce Willis), a cop who risks his life to protect a girl (Jessica Alba) from a deformed pedophile.

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This is the only comic book movie that has been translated from the graphic novel to the big screen. As someone who read the graphic novels (in preparation for my viewing of the movie) I am blown away at what Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller managed to do with this movie. Robert Rodriguez was the perfect director for this movie, managing to create an film adaptation that every Sin City fan will enjoy.

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The first thing you need to know about this film is that it does have an unusual structure. It mostly focuses on three stories and it shows one story at a time but isn’t necessarily placed in chronological order; chronologically they are happening around the same time. Some of the characters like Marv aren’t just in one story, and may make an appearance in another. All of the dialogue and some of the pictures drawn in the graphic novel are in the film. In many ways, this is the first movie based on a source material that didn’t really need to be adapted; it was just put on film. It was like they scanned the pages of the graphic novels onto the big screen. There is also a guest director appearance from Quentin Tarantino, directing a great scene between Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro.

The actors in this movie successfully embody the characters they play. Sin City has a huge cast; with actors like Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro and many others. Like I said earlier, the dialogue from the characters in the graphic novels are the dialogue here, and each actor delivers the lines just as I imagine the characters would. Everyone here is good and all of the actors seem to be the characters, just as if they have been taken from the comics.

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One of the best things and stand outs about Sin City is its style. The graphic novels have a black and white “noir” look about it. Not everything is black and white, sometimes some things in the movie actually have colour, such as a red dress or golden hair. The violence in this movie is also stylized – most of the blood seen is white and only in some cases is red. This stylistic approach to a comic book adaptation is a first of its kind. This film can have a lot of engrossing investing moments, especially with some scenes where there isn’t dialogue and it allows viewers to take in the giant scale of the locations. This also means the action is filmed very well, and this fact isn’t surprising as this comes from action director Robert Rodriguez. The score mostly composed by Robert Rodriguez is also great and really adds to the atmosphere.

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Anyone who has read the graphic novels will be very satisfied with this movie. This is my favourite movie by Robert Rodriguez and it is hard imagining him outdoing this movie with the upcoming sequel: Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For but I’m still excited to see what he brings to it. As for this movie, the style, the performances, and just the tone and mood make it great. I don’t know if people who haven’t read the comics will like it as much due to the different structure but in my opinion, this film is one of the best comic book ‘adaptations’ that I’ve seen.