Nuadha's Tale

Ignorance can be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. -Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Mexico
"....and in walks the biggest Mexican I'd ever seen."

Short review: Desperado, it ain't.

Longer review: Last night Carla and I wentto see Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the third movie in Robert Rogriguez's Mariachi series (which started with El Mariachi and Desperado). Carla and I loved Desperado. It was one of the first movies we bought on DVD when we got our DVD player. So, we were really looking forward

To quote James T. Kirk, "it" At times it was as painful to watch as Kirk's death scene in that Star Trek movie, but if you go in with low expectations, you're OK. It has some really cool gunfights, but none as cool as the barfight in Desperado or for that matter most of the gunfights in the previous two movies. They were good.....but they were missing something. They were a bit more over-the-top than the previous movies, which is saying a lot. Also the plot of this one is much more convoluted and far-fetched. While the first movie was a story about a man in the wrong place at the wrong time and the second one a movie about revenge, this movie has more characters and tons of subplots and becomes extremely hard to follow.

The violence in this edition of the series is much more graphic. Which, once again, is saying a lot. There are several times in the movie where I was wincing in pain from the graphic representation of the violence. Less people probably died in this movie but when they die in this one, it's much more painful to watch.

As for the acting, Banderas returns to play the Mariachi and gives a decent performance, but Johnny Depp steals the show as a corrupt CIA agent whom your never quite sure what his game is. He's not a good guy. He plays a complete bastard, but at times you still end up rooting for him. Perhaps, that's because he was the most interesting character in the bunch. One character, a retired FBI agent, could have been very interesting but was given very little screen time. All the other characters are as two dimensional as El Mariachi himself, who is supposed to be two dimensional. El Mariachi's two guitar case carrying friends are back from the second movie as well and we still know little to nothing about them. How could they possibly be back from the second movie? I'm getting to that.

This movie has as much connection to Desperado as Desperado had to El Mariachi. In other words, if you're a stickler for continuity this movie will drive you crazy. After watching the this movie, I'm under the impression that Rodriguez is making a movie about legends and like any legend there are different tellings of it. Watching the first movie could start with a guy saying " So, there was thie Mariachi who cam to a town to play....." The second movie could be a friend of his saying "No man! That's not the way it goes. It happened like this......" The third movie is the most outrageous El Mariachi story and at this rate, he'll be fighting evil scientists with death rays in no time. It's not really the same character, it's a different version.....a different telling. Noone has the facts right and this one is just another story of that mysterious man with a guitar case full of guns and this time we find out how he saved all of Mexico.

Take this attitude while watching the movie and you'll be able to happily ignore every place in this movie where the plot differs from the previous movies. El Bucho, the villain of the first two movies isn't mentioned once and during this movie you find out that, according to this movie, Carolina (Salma Hayek's character) was not dating El Bucho as we were shown in Desperado. It was someone else completely and as the legend grows she becomes a butt-kicker in her own right.

So, not much is really known about this mystery man....this Mariachi. We've been giving sketchy details and many contradicting stories but one thing is almost certain. We have seen the last of him. This movie will probably flop and with it are any chances of seeing any more Mariachi movies. Judging from this movie, it might not be a bad thing but I'd like to see more of Robert Rodriguez's take on the ""Legend of the Mariachi."

I liked this movie, but I'm warning anyone who reads this. It can wait until the dollar show or a rental. It's just not worth the full price of movies these days. Save your movie for Underworld. There was a trailer for Underworld last night before the movie and it just looks better and better. There was also a trailer for Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. They didn't say when but I guess that means they will be re-releasing it.

Regarding the White Wolf vs Underworld case, I realized one thing last night. One of the reasons the case seemed frivolous was the idea that how could this movie be hurting them? They publish rpgs and the rpg may receive more sales if this movie is popular. Then, it occured to me that if White Wolf should decide to make a Vampire: The Masquerade movie now, the general public would criticize them for ripping off Underworld. They didn't exactly invent this stuff, but they aren't completely unoriginal either.


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