April 25th, 2007 12:50 EST
Grindhouse, Despite its Sales, Is a Winner
Despite lackluster box-office sales, Grindhouse remains one of the best pictures released in recent months. What does it say about our society when Are We Done Yet? is topping the box-office charts?
While some critics have panned the movie for not having enough character development, or for being too cheesy and not scary enough, they are forgetting the principle of the movie: to entertain the audience while paying homage to the B horror movies of the 70's that Quentin Tartantino and Robert Rodriguez grew up watching in dingy old theaters.
The films do not have a message other than what to do if zombies attack your town, or how to get back at a psycho stunt driver trying to run you off the road. These films were made to embrace the faults of the B movies that seem almost extinct in today's world of glamour and beauty, where imperfection is a sin unto itself.
Instead of directing an hour and a half's worth of characterization and dramatic plot, the directors took the route of violence and blowing crap up to create a three hour spectacle that embraces the film noir, all the while still staying true to their own genre form. Tarantino's film, entitled "Death Proof", has the kind of dialogue that one has come to expect.
The three hour extravaganza begins with Rodriguez's film called "Planet Terror", where a small town must battle hordes of zombies. The group of survivors are led by a man with a past (Freddy Rodriguez) and his old flame, a go-go dancer named Cherry (McGowan), with aspirations of becoming a stand-up comic. The movie also features a woman trying to escape her abusive husband (Shelton) and, my personal favorite, Michael Biehn of Terminator and Aliens fame as the sheriff of the small town.
The film never lets up on the action. Before the first five minutes are over, we see a shootout and a scantily clad Rose McGowan shaking her groove thang in a trashy strip joint. The rest of the film plays out like a bad movie, almost making fun of itself without losing itself too much in the plot. The movie is sheer entertainment that doesn't attempt to make the audience delve too deeply into their own psychosis in order to understand it. Plus, you see a one-legged woman with a machine gun and rocket launcher attached to her stump. How many movies can claim that?
In comparison to the non-stop, fast paced action of "Planet Terror", Tarantino's "Death Proof" takes the more scenic road before the death and gore. In fact, the main character played by Rosario Dawson isn't introduced until halfway through the movie. However, once the action starts, it never stops and the film has the trademark Tarantino conversations that have become a staple of his movies, such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. It is also refreshing to see Kurt Russell as a bad ass once more, as he plays stunt man Mike... a man on a mission who gets more than he bargains for after confronting Dawson and her friends.
The film trades in some of the action from "Planet Terror" for slight character development and more background on the characters before delving into the action of the story. Conversations between characters are often driven by sex and drugs, and both films exude the image of strong, female characters that neither need help nor ask for it.
And while both films could be stand alone films worthy of attending, together, they create a powerhouse that should be received better than it has been. Critics say that perhaps the 3-plus hours running time on the movie contributes to the disappointing sales, but that didn't seem to hamper Titanic's record-breaking receipts. Whatever the reason, audiences are missing out on an action-packed adrenaline rush that will leave anyone with a pulse on the edge of their seats. If you want a movie that is thought provoking, semi-entertaining and only half the time of this, then go see something else. But for all you action junkies out there, Grindhouse is a win.