Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

“Well it’s been a little over a month and a half (including a vacation hiatus) and we’ve reached the end of the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez Expletive Dleted project. It’s been a hell of a ride. We’re ending this with Robert Rodriguez’ return to the Spy Kid franchise.

What I love about Robert Rodriguez when it comes to kiddie movies is that he really does have a Peter Pan complex himself. He’s a Toys R Us kid who doesn’t wanna grow up. He may not be able to nail the appeals-to-the-adults aspect that makes the best kid flicks, but he’s got the juvenile mentality down pretty \m/ well.

Spy Kids 4 checks in with our original kids and introduces a new spy family. The details of the story are incredibly cheesey and implausible, but the fun vibe is still there. New gadets, new spies, new baddies. Besides bringing back Alexa Vega and Darryl Sabarra, we’re adding in Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, and Jeremy Piven. If you can overlook the glaring plotholes and dumb dialogue, it’s a great ride. It just takes a lot of effort and the proper mindset to do so.

So yeah, I’d have liked to end this project on a better note, but you can’t win ’em all. We’ve got Django Unchained to look forward to later this year from Tarantino and Rodriguez’ Machete Kills shouldnt be too far behind. I’m already scheming my next project, so look for that in October. Until then, I’ll just be spending all my time at the movie theater. Yay!”


“When we talked about Grindhouse, I mentioned that one of the best things about it was the fake trailers. What’s even better about the trailers is that one of them, Machete, got made for real. And the Grindhouse goodness goes on.

We’re continuing with the same feel as before. Purposely low quality looking film, over the top, cheesey dialogue, gratutious gore, ridiculous screenplay, all around explosive entertainment. As per usual, Rodriguez brings all of his friends to play along: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Daryl Sabarra adding in Steven Segal, Robert DeNiro, Lindsay Lohan, and Michelle Rodriguez. Our boy RR gets the formula a little bit better this time. It’s a bit higher quality, but still maintains the self aware low budget feel. And you’ve still got dialogue like “”Machete don’t text”” and “”We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us””. Gold.

Yup, you know we’re nearing the end of the project when I \m/ love a movie, but can’t think of anything else concrete to say about it.”


“I am determined to have this project wrapped this weekend. Was having too much fun this past week to leave time for blogging.

Shorts. Another foray into family film by Robert Rodriguez. A few things in common with his other kid flicks: all star cast of adults (Jon Crier, Leslie Mann, James Spader, William H Macy), overly childish and fanciful storyline, very authentic kids. Oh and there’s the little things like the Great White Bites cereal. On the spectrum of movies we’ve seen already, we’re somewhere just behind Spy Kids 2. The idea is cute, but it’s still a little too childish.

This time around, you have some kids who find a wishing rock. They wish for things. Shennannigans happen. Things go horribly wrong. Shorts has a double meaning. THe story is broken up into pieces, or shorts, focusing on different characters. And also, it’s a kids movie. Kids are short.

As a result of this movie, I can’t see any reference to Helvetica and NOT hear Helvetica Black’s theme song. Yeah what?”

Inglorious Basterds

“Awww, the last Tarantino on the list. Only a couple left til this bad boy blog business is bagged. I know I was trying to go as chronological as possible, but I prolly should have switched this with the next RR movie on the list, to keep it a bit more even. Whatevs.

This is one of those rare movies that I love more with each subsequent viewing. It was just this shy of making my favorites list but I’m pretty sure that when I finally get around to updating the list, this will make the cut. I’ve got this on my iPod, and its my usual on the go movie of choice.

The cast is just amazing. When I first saw this, the draw was Brad Pitt as Lt Aldo Raine. You can see how much fun he has with this larger than life character. Word on the street is that he’d stay in character at all times on set, so Tarantino would often have conversations with Aldo. I’d love to see a whole movie about just him. There’s so many questions. So many possibilities. Continuing down the line of Basterds, Til Schweiger is an unsung hero. I recognized him right away from SLC Punk where he was a different kind of crazy, but still likely to fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. And then there’s Michael Fassbender. I hadn’t paid much attention to him until he started blowing up in later films, but the man is truly fantastic here. So suave and calculated. It’s no wonder this was a launchpad for his career. But my favorite Basterd would hafta be the Bear Jew, Eli Roth. I wont go into too much about him now, but lets just say that if my ExpDel plans work out right, you’re gonna be hearing me talk A LOT more about him in a few weeks…

But the Basterds would be nothing without a bad guy, and that there is the illustrious Christoph Waltz in performance that won him an incredibly well deserved Academy Award. Hans Landa is a complicated and intriguing character that he pulls off with elegance and grace. That alone would have put him well in the lead for the statue. But then add in the fact that he fluently speaks not one, not two, not three, but FOUR languages in the flick, yeah game over. Thanks for playing.

Something I’ve recently come to love about Quentin Tarantino is that he writes some fantastic female characters. His films are pretty guy heavy, but the girls more than pull their own weight. Here we’ve got two bad ass babes. Mélanie Laurent’s Shosanna Dreyfus has to be one of my favorite flick chicks. So strong and tough and independant. Cool under pressure. Totally ruthless. And Diane Kruger’s Bridget von Hammersmark is another beauty with bite. Absolutely captivating when she’s on screen. I wish I could be one of these dames.

I remember my first impression of this movie was that it felt like any other Tarantino movie, but with Nazis! I mean that in the best possible way. The same vibe (music, film, characters, blood, dialgoue) as anything else he’s done, just in a whole new different setting. And I love every minute of it. Looks like he’s getting comfortable with exploring the past, as we’ve got Django Unchained to look forward to in a couple months. I’m excited.”


“While these movies really can function as stand alone films, they’re best when aprpeciated as a pair. That’s how they were intended, and I was so upset when they ended up being sold separately. Going to a legit double feature (not just me going to two movies) is a lot of fun, especially when your posse takes up an entire row. Add in the fake trailers, and the Grindhouse feel, and you had one of the best movie going experiences ever. People cheered and laughed over the missing reels. All of the intentionally bad editing and worse special effects, and you had some unexpected gold. It’s also worth watching them in parallel to catch the overlaps. A few actors appear in both, sometimes as the same characters, sometimes not. There’s some cross-referencing going on (ie, a radio message about Death Proof’s Jungle Julia in Planet Terror). I’m glad that the boys are at least trying to keep the spirit of this semi-failed experiement going (success in that it was good and enjoyed, failed in that it wasn’t as monetarily successful as hoped.)

Planet Terror
I talked this one up plenty on my favorites post. With each subsequent Rodriguez movie I see, I keep telling myself, “”That’s how you make a kick ass action movie””. And I mean it every \m/ time. I especially mean it with Planet Terror. Explosions, zombies, gore, humor. Great cast, better vibe. Love.

Death Proof
There’s a common theme with my first viewing of a lot of Tarantino movies. They dont quite live up to my once misguided perception of what his movies were. Like with Jackie Brown, I was expecting action. I didnt understand the pulp appeal. I remember posting a write up on my old blog, and I lamented the lack of action and remarked that the dialogue was kinda good but “”who goes to a Tarantino movie for the dialogue?”” A friend posted a comment quoting that remark followed by “”*raises hand*””. I get it now. I really really \m/ do.

Tarantino is a director who has a merry band of actors and crew who work with him on many of his flicks. Death Proof is no different. What makes it special in that respect is that Death Proof gave him the opportunity to let one of his unsung faithful heroes shine: the lovely and incomparable Zoe Bell. For those of you scratching your heads at the name, Ms Bell is primarily a stunt woman. She was Uma Thurman’s stunt double in Kill Bill. Now we just recently discussed the awesome that was Kill Bill and all its action-y glory. Zoe Bell was a big part of what made that all possible. Here she had a chance to actually show her face in the front of the camera, take on a sizeable role, and still get to do some of the wonderful stunts she does best.

I’m certainly watching it now with far more appreciation than before. It’s been a while, so this re-view is very much deserved. Knowing how it plays out, I’m loving the build up and the dialogue and the–oooh Eli Roth!”

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl

“Think back to when you were a kid. You probably had a lot of weird and crazy daydreams, huh? Maybe you wrote those down in a journal or drew a comic book. Maybe you acted them out with your Barbies and G.I. Joes. Now, what if your dad was a kind of a big deal filmmaker? And then what if he turned your ideas into a movie? That’d be pretty \m/ cool, huh? Well that’s exactly what happened with Sharkboy and Lava Girl. Robert Rodriguez’ son, Racer, thought up the idea that became the movie. As it turns out, there’s a damn good reason why seven year olds don’t write movies.

Rodriguez is going back to the 3D world that didn’t quite work out so well for the last spy kids. But this time instead of being inside a video game, we’re inside of a kid’s dreams. The message behind the movie is good, keep dreaming and it may come true. However, everything else just feels so dumb. I get that its aimed at seven year olds like the one who created it, but it is entirely possible to make a film that is just as enjoyable for the big kids as well.

What I find most amusing about this movie is that Sharkboy is played by an itty bitty Taylor Lautner. Yeah, that’s right kiddos. Before he was a wolfman, he was a sharkboy. Whoa. I have a theater friend who often jokes about the-role-you-leave-off-the-resume. How much you wanna bet this one is Taylor’s? It’s actually kinda hilarious.”

Sin City

“Yep another one that made it to my favorites. Big \m/ surprise. For the record, I also think that this was the first one I ever saw at the Regal Fenway, though it may not have been Regal at that point. After the movie, at least one member of the posse had a wicked craving for meat because of all the blood. I still chuckle to myself everytime I pass by the steakhouse we dined at following the flick.

I already gushed over the stunning visual and the phenomenal cast when I previously wrote this up. No sense in repeating myself. But there’ve been a lot of (mostly) comic/graphic novel movies that have tried to replicate the feel or the effects, and none have even come close. However you may feel about the violence (which I for one really love) you can’t argue that this movie isn’t a true work of art. I still can’t get over how gorgeous it is, and God only knows how many times I’ve seen this movie.

While this one is mostly Rodriguez’ film (with incredibly significant from author Frank Miller), Tarantino had a hand in it as well. He’s responsible for directing the scene where Clive Owen’s Dwight is conversing with the human Pez dispenser remains of Benicio Del Toro’s Jackie Boy. I’d heard it was because RR was having trouble getting the scene right, but I’m not finding any further evidence to back that up. The real story is that QT paid RR to score Kill Bill, so to return the favor, RR paid QT a buck to direct this scene. It served as a chance for QT to work with RR’s preferred HD camera instead of his usual film. Also, being able to add another director credit to the film was a way of taking a jab at the Director’s Guild of America.

Yeah about that. The whole DGA thing. Rodriguez wanted to credit Frank Miller as a director since the storyboards were frames from the original graphic novel, and he was around and helpful during filming. But you know how unions are. They didn’t allow it. So Rodriguez turned in his DGA card.”

Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2

“I usually consider the two volumes to be one really long movie. But since I’m hoping to squish ’em both in today, I might as well try and separate out their write ups. Shouldn’t be a surprise that this made my top 100. I am an action junkie afterall, and this has some of the best ever put together action sequences. It set a pretty \m/ high bar.

The last time I saw both together, was for my annual Singles Awareness Day Blood and Booze, when I watch violent movies and get drunk. My drinking game was “”every time they say Bill’s name””. You know, for a guy whose name is in the title, except for a couple key scenes they don’t address or refer to him by name very often. Maybe I should have drunk for body count instead.

Kill Bill Vol 1
You know how every year there’s the one movie that you know that EVERYBODY saw? The one you can just bring up in conversation with a group, and next thing you know an hour’s gone by and everyone’s been fully engaged because they all saw it? The Dark Knight, Avatar, LOTR, all recent examples. In the fall of 2004, it was Kill Bill. Or at least that was true for most circles I ran in. You couldnt go two days wandering the halls of MIT without hearing someone whistle Elle-style.

I first heard about it from some hallmates, the same ones who I followed to Once Upon a Time in Mexico. I’m fairly sure there was a Kill Bill trailer before the movie, so that could have been partly to blame. This was still before I was really following current cinema, but I remember a friend enthusiastically exclaiming his excitement, anticipating the stylistic violence that this flick is so well known for today. I could not wait.

And of course, the movie did not disappoint. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Such intense and crisp fight scenes. Such creativity between all the different styles. This is the movie that introduced me to Quentin Tarantino and sparked an obsession. Although I do hafta admit that I had a misconception of what his films were. At the time, I loved him for the blood and the action and the ruthlessness and the blood. Had I better understood that its the dark pulp that is his signature, not the flashy sequences, I don’t know that I would have been so quick to put this man on such a high pedestal. Don’t get me wrong, now that I know his work so intimately, I do think this man is deserving of those idolatrous tendancies. It’s just for reasons other than what I initially thought.

Kill Bill Vol 2
I will admit to having some slight disappointment when first seeing this. I expected it to be bigger, badder, and more explosive than the first. Without the proper Tarantino context, what you get could be a bit of a let down. However, knowing his ouvre the way I do now, Vol 2 is a return to form. The flash of the first flick is a fantastic branching out. The second is more of that gritty pulpy goodness that he does best.

What I also couldn’t have picked up on at the time is that it is a tribute to a certain brand of samurai films. Every homage felt strange to a movie n00b, and while I may not understand the specifics behind each reference, I absolutely respect Tarantino’s film knowledge.

We picked up on a lot of secrets and questions in the first film, and all of them were addressed here. But those couple months waiting for those answers were brutal. What was The Bride’s name? What happened to her baby? Who really is Bill? What will the fight scenes with the other Dead Vipers look like? Is there enough corn syrup and red food coloring in the world to make this movie?”

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

“Back freshman year at MIT, I noticed a bunch of my hallmates (mostly the guys) rounding up people to catch a movie. I had nothing else to do, so I figured I’d tag along. I hadn’t been to the movies yet in Boston, so I wanted to check it out (this was before I began obsesively attending as many flicks as possible). It was my first trip to the Loews Boston Common, which would become my home theater until I discovered the Regal Fenway. The movie was Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and I knew nothing about it except that it was maybe an action movie and it might involve Johnny Depp. I freakin’ loved it! Oh and the Mexi-CAN line was heard directed at me throughout the hall for a few weeks following.

No surprise. We know I love action movies, and Rodriguez really has a handle on the genre. I’d elaborate, but I’d really just be repeating myself on what I’ve previously said about him. But its just such campy, over the top goodness.

We’ve got plenty of Rodiguez Regulars in this one: Antonio, Danny, Cheech, Salma, plus a few new faces: Johnny Depp, Eva Mendez, Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, and even Enrique Iglesias. Sure, its a lot of the same that we saw in Desperado, but it’s a fan-\m/-tastic same. I love how as the legend of el Mariachi gets bigger, the movies get bigger. The opening dreamish/flashback sequence of the last movie pretty much set the pace for this one, and the opening sequence here is ten times bigger than its predecessor. And with some bigger, heftier names behind the bad guy roles, they’re a lot more developed and central to the story, than just being out there as antagonists. Once again, El has two buddies to round out his trio, but these guys also do a bit more than just take a few shots and die.”

Spy Kids 3D – Game Over

“Oh the curse of the threequel. Very very few threepeats are capable of standing up to their original. Sadly, the Spy Kids franchise is not one of those precious few.

The idea behind this one is kinda cool. In an attempt to try and take the Spy Kids somewhere new, they get stuck inside a video game. And this was in 3D before the hype of 3D (which unfortunatley means red/blue 3D but hey it’s a novelty). Something about the execution is just bad.

The band is all back together, and Rodriguez is adding even more friends to the mix. George Clooney comes back for a bit. Sylvester Stallone is a new addition. Salma Hayek and Elijah Wood find their way in. And of course, all of our Spy Kid family.

This movie feels like Tron (original, not Legacy), the way they manuever thru the game. Of course, it’s a more modern game. But you’ve still got the rough child acting, and the scenery chewing adults. While Rodriguez is a genius with the visual aspects of a screenplay, lets just say he could still learn some dialogue techniques from his buddy Tarantino.

Of course, I am losing focus. This is supposta be a kids movie, and the kids eat this stuff up. For example, Sly took the role after consulting with his kids who turned out to be Spy Kid fans.

Holy Kevin Flynn, Batman, this really is Tron Jr! Not sure if that means this gains homage points or loses rip off points.”