Monday, June 16, 2008

Movie Review: Planet Terror

Every bit as fun as I expected it to be. Lots of blood, gore and physics-defying effects. And I don't think I've seen anything as funny recently as the Machete trailer preceding the main feature - I'm ready to see that movie now. A motley assortment of Texas characters (the stripper, the BBQ guy, the sheriff, etc.) square off against a sudden outbreak of zombie-itis, promulgated by an arms dealer and a military commander with a hidden agenda. Keep the exposition to a minimum, and get all of the right people in place for the final shootout scene. And all projected through the speckled, stretched-out film stock of a drive-in special (the "Missing Reel" gag was the second best laugh of the movie).

Just a couple of ticks keep this from being five-stars for me. First, it went on a little bit too long. I think we could have done away with the entire sub-plot involving Josh Brolin's psycho doctor and Marley Shelton's needle-welding wife (not to mention Michael Parks as her dad, but it was inevitable that he would show up in one of the Grindhouse features) probably could have been truncated without much loss. And while I appreciate the attempt to give some characters more than one dimension, I think this film would have worked a little better if it were a little tighter in the middle - this needs to be lean, mean and fast.

Second, we have yet another appearance of the tough-guy Tarantino persona. Guess what, QT - you aren't tough-looking. When you try, you look like a film geek trying to look tough. It didn't work too well in Reservoir Dogs, it was even less so in From Dusk Til Dawn, and your pasty, puffy soldier act here was the worst yet. And on top of things, we got the nastiest effect job in a nasty film, and it gave us the chance to think about your dick. Thanks for that, guys.

But those are fairly minor nits for a film that otherwise hits most of its marks in giving us that good old seventies vibe. Four stars.

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