Robert Rodriguez

October 30, 2013

This is Halloween: The Faculty

The Faculty: Underrated

104mins/Horror/Sci-Fi/1998

It’s a film by Robert Rodriguez, that when I say that, a shit ton of people that never knew that pop up with seriously? That Robert Rodriguez? Yes that one. I know it doesn’t have that Rodriguez feel to it, but after a few viewings it starts to become clearer. The story is simple as dirt, teachers bodies become taken over by aliens and a few students stand up to take them down. The film has a Breakfast Club mixed into Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibe in it. And that there for me takes this film to a different level you don’t get very much anymore.

The film stars Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Shawn Hatosy, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Robert Patrick, Bebe Neuwirth, Piper Laurie, Famke Janssen, Usher Raymond, Salma Hayek, and Jon Stewart. If that isn’t an amazing cast I’d like you to prove me wrong.

Like Matt said in our upcoming podcast, The Faculty is an underrated film. This is something that I’ve said for years now. Since the film came out in 1998, I’ve heard nothing but hatred toward this film. Every time it came up people would downplay the entertainment value and said that is was just crap. I would always come to its defense with how enjoyable this film is.

Trust me, Give it a shot this Halloween!

December 10, 2012

Crappy Holidays: The Man With The Iron Fists

CONVOLUTED 

I am usually in favor of the person at the helm of a particular genre film loving the material they are making.  You put Joss Whedon, a man who has comic book blood running through his veins, in charge of The Avengers, you get a film that is highly enjoyable to the uninitiated while still respecting and indulging the built in fan base.  You put Marc Webb, who is known mostly for music videos and 500 Days Of Summer, in charge of Spider-Man, you get a Twilight-esque, tweentastic, crapfest that commits every single atrocity a superhero film critic uses to devalue the genre.  So, I was very interested when I heard RZA, a man who has loved martial arts films his entire life, was actually doing one.  Unfortunately, The Man With The Iron Fists turns out to be a film with good intentions but poor execution.

For those who don’t know, RZA is a founding member of the 90s rap group The Wu Tang Clan.  Watching any of their videos or listening to any of their song lyrics should illustrate how much he is into martial arts films.  Fellow martial arts film fan Quentin Tarantino even sought RZA’s help to pick out the proper songs for his film Kill Bill Volume 1.  A friendship grew and led to many collaborations.  The culmination would be RZA’s seven year dream project The Man With The Iron Fists.  RZA wrote the script under the watchful eye of Tarantino and fellow friend Eli Roth, and took on directing duties himself.  With all that history and love, with all those helping hands, it is a shame that the film itself turns out to be such a CONVOLUTED mess.  There are so many storylines happening at once with so many vaguely explained characters, you’ll be hard pressed to follow along.  This weakens any stakes the film tries to set up and creates nothing but confusion for the audience.  I’m a pretty attentive guy when it comes to movies, but even I found myself muttering “Is that guy a good guy or a bad guy?” more often than not.  Robert Rodriguez’s films Planet Terror and Machete stumbled into the same problem.  However, those films have a tongue and cheek approach throughout that distracts you from their overly confusing plots.  The Man With The Iron Fist is not light enough to excuse the clutter.

So, why bombard the audience?  I believe RZA does this in a futile effort to world-build.  To create a universe that he can transport us to and manipulate it’s rules.  However, he is not nearly as experienced enough of a filmmaker to do that.  To really pull this film off he’d have to have the scope creating skills of a Chris Nolan or an Ang Lee with the character creation understanding of a Quentin Tarantino or a Guy Ritchie.  He does not.  He would have been better off making this script simple.  A revenge flick or an epic quest.  Not a Shaw Brothers version of Snatch.

The performances are a mishmash as well.  You have RZA as the lead playing everything completely straight, while Russell ‘Why The Hell Am I Here?’ Crowe clowns around like its an SNL sketch.  Now, I can’t completely blame RZA for Crowe’s performance.  I’m not sure how much direction a hip hop mogul can seriously give an Oscar winner before being laughed off his own set.  It might have been a better idea to just have unknowns in these parts to give RZA more control over the performances.  That or have producer Eli Roth direct the film outright.  His lack of understanding in how to direct his talent shows. 

The one positive I can give The Man With The Iron Fists is that its nice to look at.  The cinematography is descent and the action scenes are very fun.  How much of it was RZA and how much of it was stunt choreographer Corey Yuen and Eli Roth is debatable.  The CGI feels slightly out of place at times, but not any more than the hip hop soundtrack. 

The Man With The Iron Fists is the text book example of someone biting off more than they can chew.  RZA is a gigantic fan of the martial arts film genre and you can see his love for it buried underneath the chaos.  However, a more tempered and measured approach to the story and direction could have possibly helped make a better film.  If you want to see this done right, watch Kill Bill Volume 1 or 2.  If you want to see it done not so right…drink some honey nectar…watch The Man With The Iron Fists…then tell me I’m wrong. 

October 12, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Grindhouse

Grindhouse – Ambitious

Here’s the problem with kids these days; they don’t appreciate shit!  I’m an old-school type of guy (and if I’m already a curmudgeon at age 28, well, you know what you can do), that’s why I hate crap like “Twilight”and any other abomination that co-ops things that were once bad-ass and turns them into little emo-bitches who sparkle, or shoe-gaze for over two hours.  Has any “scene kid”or emo kid seen “Dracula” from 1931 or maybe even “The Wolf Man” from 1941 (once again dating myself).  If Lon Chaney, Jr. or Bela Lugosi were alive to see what had become of their beloved characters, well, I’m sure Lugosi would get hooked back on morphine and Chaney would gladly take a few silver bullets to the heart.  I’ll give you this, if you’ve seen “The Lost Boys” I’ll give you a bye….but that’s it.

By the way, this review isn’t even about werewolves (well kind of) or vampires, I simply had to get that off my chest.  However, there is something special about taking something old and making it new again.  Take 2007’s “Grindhouse,” the two-movies-in-one masterpiece by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

“Grindhouse” while fantastic, was a flop, and to me, that’s frustrating.  People, and unfortunately the studios, either prefer shitty remakes (there are a few exceptions) or…….gulp……PG-13 horror (and shame on you if you dare defend PG-13 horror).  Rodriguez and Tarantino gave a big “F You” as they usually do, and decided to dig up old exploitation movies from the 1960s and 70s and make a three-hour epic of sleaze, blood, guts, sex, and even more sleaze.  Throw in some fake trailers, done by the likes of Edgar Wright, Rob Zombie, and Eli Roth, and you have something special.  Too bad people have the attention spans of circus fleas because I would love to see more films like “Grindhouse” make a comeback.

The first film, “Planet Terror” directed by Rodriguez, deals with, SICKOS, not zombies, but SICKOS, kind of like psychos, but instead they eat flesh and their balls melt.  Here are the major plot points; there is a chemical weapon unleashed, people get sick and start eating and killing each other, there’s a government conspiracy, a stripper loses her leg and has a gun reattached to the stub, and we have some “From Dusk Till Dawn” references.  Simple, right?  Yeah, it is.

The second film, “Death Proof” directed by Tarantino, is a take on the slasher genre which stars the awesome Kurt Russell as “Stuntman” Mike who kills young women with his “death proof” stunt car.  People say this is the weaker of the two films, but I highly disagree.  While it might not pack in as much action as “Planet Terror” the dialogue is good, acting solid, and like I said before, it has Kurt Russell.  What else do you need?

Rodriguez and Tarantino go back to basics for “Grindhouse” and it works so well.  It’s simple, stupid fun that is lost upon the modern horror audience.  Not everything has to be a love story between Kristen Stewart, a vampire, and a werewolf.  Or a ghost story shot with a shaky camera.  Or…….”The Wicker Man.”  Maybe that was too easy, but I will give Nick Cage props for this.

If you haven’t already, please check out “Grindhouse,” it’s so good, it’s scary.

Fun Fact:  Grindhouse cinema derives from the defunct burlesque theaters located on 42nd Street in New York City.

Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top