Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Once Upon a Time in Mexico
The final film in Robert Rodriguez’s Mariachi trilogy is the biggest and most explosion-filled of all of them. By this point, Rodriguez has fully embraced his grindhouse sensibilities, and unlike El Mariachi and Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico goes straight for the over-the-top action right from the start. The plot is quite similar to Rodriguez’s later film Machete, as the desperado gunslinger El Mariachi is tapped by the CIA to kill a Mexican crime lord (played by Willem Dafoe). The bullets are plentiful, there are the classic guitar cases full of weaponry, and the cast is rounded out with great actors like Johnny Depp, Danny Trejo and Mickey Rourke. This movie reminds me of the kinds of mock action movies that I used to make when I was a kid, where I’d get a bunch of my friends together with some toy guns and just make a movie without any forethought for plot or any attention paid to logic. It’s just pure, unadulterated fun, and you can tell watching Once Upon a Time in Mexico that everyone involved had a great time making it.
3.5 out of 5

The Expendables 2
The Expendables 2 is so much fun that it makes the lackluster first Expendables movie worth it. The Expendables ends up looking like a pitch reel for its sequel, as The Expendables 2 gets everything right that its predecessor did wrong. The action is well staged and the shakey camerawork that plagued the first movie is largely absent here. There are one-liners aplenty and some great standout action sequences. The first fifteen minutes of this movie is so full of gunfire and explosions that the film is worth watching for the opening alone. The expansion of Bruce Willis’ and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s roles make for some great moments that will definitely please fans of 80s action movies, and the inclusions of Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme are inspired. Chuck Norris manages to steal the entire movie while only appearing in two scenes, and for the first time that I can remember, I actually wanted MORE Chuck Norris in a film! It’s not a think piece by any stretch of the imagination, and serves only to give fans of 80s action flicks their dream movie, but it succeeds in what it does, and I had a terrific time watching The Expendables 2.
3.5 out of 5

From Beyond
It’s unfortunate that the works of H.P. Lovecraft seem to rarely be adapted into feature films, but thankfully the handful that have been made into movies have been overseen by Stuart Gordon, who clearly understands what makes Lovecraft’s stories compelling. In From Beyond, Jeffrey Combs plays a scientist who has created a resonator machine that blurs the boundaries of our reality and another…from beyond! When the machine is turned on, all kinds of otherworldly horrors begin to seep through into our dimension, and, along with a psychologist played by Barbara Crampton and a badass cop played by Ken Foree, Combs’ scientist must find a way to stop the monsters…before he mutates into one of them. This is rubber monster horror at its finest, with cool practical effects, a contained and claustrophobic setting, and a healthy dose of Cronenberg-like body horror. Gordon’s Re-Animator is often cited as his best movie and one of the best adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft, but for my money, From Beyond is better on both counts.
3.75 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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