Saturday, 24 November 2007

Planet Terror Review

And, finally, it arrives. The second half of the Grindhouse extravaganza has finally arrived in the UK, with low marketing amd little hype. No wonder it did badly in the 'States. The fact that it did is a real shame, as the film is a real blast. When combined with Tarantino's Death Proof, it could be a fun, indulgent, glorious event to be treasured. Let's just hope for a full Grindhouse DVD.

One of the disappointments in the split was the question of the fake trailers - which film would they accompany? And would they all make it? Sadly, the answer is no. Whilst "Machete" makes it unscathed, the others will be probably be forever lost to UK audiences unless they find their way onto one of the DVDs. And when the trailers are as good as this, it's a shame that they don't feature. Whilst maintaining the tone of Grindhouse, it manages to complete the aims in 2 and a half minutes. With the incredible line "They just f*cked with the wrong Mexican!", it's no wonder it's been rumoured as maybe being made for a Grindhouse 2 - though obviously no plans have been finalised [and quite probably won't be, due to the fact that Grindhouse was, technically, a flop]. Basically, it's lovingly made and well executed, a perfect way to ease the audience into the full-on feel of Planet Terror.

Back to the movie - Planet Terror [a.k.a Grindhouse Part 2] is gross. It splats, it gurgles, it pops and oozes and drips. The first ten minutes include bio-chemical zombies, ball cutting and Bruce Willis, and it doesn't let up. Tension is, to be honest, fairly low, but luckily it isn't the desired effect from Rodriguez. The cheesy music and grainy look of the film is much more "grindhouse" than Death Proof [missing reels, corny soundtrack] and the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film is more leaning towards gross-out comedy shlock than downright terror. This keeps proceedings funny, sharp and always enjoyable, and means the film is more like the olden days, when posters promised more than the movies could provide.

Whilst this may sound like a criticism, it really isn't. Planet Terror never tries to be more than it knows it is and wants to be. It gives sly reference to the war on terror, without focusing on it, and knows that its concept is laughable. The icky bits are suitably slimy, the weird bits suitably weird, leaving us satisfied, if not blown away, by the outcome. I mean, how many films do you get to see where Tarantino's balls drip [yes, drip] off? And Sayid from Lost holding a big jar of balls?

This movie likes balls, and it's sure got some. It moves at a rollocking pace, Rodriguez amping up the action and laughs as the time whizzes by. The action is always fun, especially the final shoot-out [yes, with a gun-leg from Rose McGowan], and the characters hit exactly the right tone. Whilst the performances aren't always mind-blowing, they more than serve their purpose, especially Freddie Rodriguez as the insanely cool El Wray, who seems to be able to do things because he is El Wray. There are many parts like this, but Planet Terror feels no need to explain and justify its reasons.

One of the movie's main attraction is its balls-out attitude, summed up when Rose McGowan emerges with a gun attached to the stub of her leg. She looks incredible, simply cool in the way that a hot chick with sunglasses and a gun-leg is. The fact that it's willing to base the whole movie leading up to the this scene shows its daring and inventive feel. The finale does not disappoint, with a very satisfying ending, yet keeping with the tone of the previous hour and a half.

The direction isn't really anything special, Rodriguez focusing more on the feel and look of the movie than using interesting shot types. To say that it wouldn't fit the genre would be true, but Rodriguez need not worry - most people going to see this aren't going to nit-pick about the good-but-nothing-special direction rather than focus on what this movie's really about.

And what is this movie about? Is it a subtle comment on our fears of nuclear bio-weapons? Is it an intimate view of small-town america? Or is it just a dumb excuse for slime, monsters and stupidity? Well, it's none of these. Planet Terror is all about having a good time, with comedy, splatter and action combining to a very entertaining, if not earth-shattering, movie, that can be accurately summed up [in tone and subject] by the line "I'm gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge"...

So, who's up for a full DVD with both movies and trailers?

Genre Value: 4/5
Entertainment Value: 4/5
Style: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Thursday, 1 November 2007

1-18-Oh, Wait... Is That It? - Recent News and Personal Views

The SUPER-SECRET-MEGA-EXCITING title for JJ Abrams "Untitled" 1-18-08 has possibly been announced. The team behind the movie announced that a new trailer for the movie was to appear at the beginning of Beowulf, released in America on Nov 16th, and would reveal the movie's title and give some glimpses of the creature(s) that everyone was running away from in the first extremely effective trailer [for me, one of the best teasers for years]. The viral marketing for the film has been phenomenal - excellent trailer, everything kept under wraps, brilliant posters and many title rumours have cranked up the hype-factor, and now somebody's said they've seen it.


Devin Faraci from movie-site has seen a trailer for the movie labelled "Trailer #1, V.17" - and therefore it may not be exactly what Beowulf viewers see. Devin describes "Army guys running up a street, firing into the air. Tanks come up behind them, firing. Rockets launch up.We see the big monster briefly passing between two buildings. I couldn't make it out at all, but it appeared to be HUGE." Supposedly there will be little monsters and a big monster, lots of choppy editing and hand held cameras, though the trailer mainly shows more panicky Americans yelling for help. For the full description, visit THIS SITE.

At the end of the trailer, the title for the movie is revealed. There is a chance that this is a marker to be changed for the actual screenings but the movie title is...
[Highlight text to read]

Yup, that's it. It's what we suspected all along - OK title, too much build up. Slightly disappointed. I was hoping for something really awesome, and totally out of the blue. Hell, at least it's not Monstrous though...


In more news, there's more viral marketing from the Dark Knight guys. A new website,, has brought forth another Halloween-based task, and is whetting appetites all over the web for the movie. Let's hope the end result is worth the wait and endless clues.

New releases this week - I'm most excited about 30 Days Of Night, which has been hailed as one of the best vampire movies in ages, and as a big fan of Night Watch with its more original take on the genre, I'm looking forward to seeing how this compares.

In even more movie news, a new picture has caused a divide in fans of two sets of movies. Of course I'm talking about Alien vs. Predator: Requim's "Predalien" hybrid. Personally, I'm impressed - there's not much more you can do with a Predator/Xenomorph hybrid except stick some dreadlocks on it and make it look like a Xenomorph but more badass - and this is exactly what they've done.

So, no complaints from me, and, as a mystery even to myself, I am really looking forward to this movie, despite the pretty bad first film. From interviews etc, it sounds like these guys really know what they're doing. They're using suits instead of CGI, and have talked about the tone of the film being very different to Paul WS Anderson's movie.

So, I think that's it. There are so many movies to look forward to over the next 6 months. And with marketing strategies pushed into overdrive, let's hope they don't disappoint...