Script review (on video): MACHETE

I don’t do script reviews very often, partly because I don’t usually want to read the scripts before they’re movies. But somebody sent me Robert Rodriguez’s script for MACHETE and at the time I wasn’t sure I believed it would actually be made, so I couldn’t resist taking a look.

And then it gets messy. You know I tried out Twitter, and I don’t think it’s really for me. Here I’m testing out another technology the kids use today, the video. They got it on all the websights, etc. Anyway that’s why I haven’t had many reviews lately, I was working on this thing. So please watch and let me know what you think.

UPDATE: For those who complained that they can’t understand what the hell the robot is talking about you can click through for the text version. This is what I wrote down, I ended up cutting some of it out for the video, and the beginning part was purposely boring so I could fast forward through it. Also some if it might be spelled phonetically.

MACHETE script review

Welcome to Vern’s review of the script for Machete, brought to you by the all new outlawvern dot com. This is a video because who the fuck wants to read. that’s bullshit. This is 2009.

When Danny Trejo first worked for Robert Rodriguez in 1995, it could’ve been just like any of his other bit parts in movies like Marked For Death or Penitentiary 3. He was memorable in Desperado as a knife-throwing assassin, but that’s sort of what he does, that could’ve been the end of it. Fortunately Rodriguez must have an appreciation for grizzled mugs because he turned Trejo into one of his regulars, putting him in From Dusk Till Dawn and its DTV sequels, in Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2, Spy Kids 3, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

But legend has it that Rodriguez didn’t just want to give Trejo cameos and bit parts. From day 1 he wanted to make Trejo a badass cinema leading man like his Death Wish 4: The Crackdown co-star Charles Bronson. Navajas, the Desperado knife thrower, evolved into the idea of the ex-feduhralley asskicker Machete, but between all those kiddie movies the idea never really got off the ground. So when Rodriguez and Tarantino got together to make Grindhouse, and they needed some fake trailers, Rodriguez called up Trejo and MACHETE was born. As a fake movie that lives only in our dreams.

Ever since then Trejo and Rodriguez have teased the possibility of a real MACHETE movie. On one hand, it should be easy. They claim to already have half an hour shot from when they did the trailer, and Rodriguez made his name shooting no-budget, short schedule movies. We know for a fact this guy could take a week off from pretending he’s making SIN CITY 2 and make a good MACHETE movie. On the other hand, he keeps getting attached to other project after other project. Since Grindhouse he’s been supposedly gonna do Sin City 2, Sin City 3, The Jetsons, Barbarella, Conan, Red Sonja, probly Spy Kids 4 and a Sharkboy and Lava Girl prequel trilogy. He did one called Shorts, and announced some sci-fi movie. The guy is busy.

Add to that the fact that Grindhouse itself was a huge box office disappointment, and that the Weinsteins are amoral, incompetent asswipes who have failed at everything they’ve done since leaving Miramax other than getting a shitty movie about an illiterate nazi fucking a kid nominated for best picture. Machete seems promising, so if the Weinsteins ever greenlight it we should assume they’ll put it on the shelf for ten years, then release it dubbed and re-edited under the title “KNIFE WARRIORS” with a new soundtrack by Warren G.

That is the reality we, as people who want to see Machete, must face every day. So I had given up on there ever being a real Machete movie, and so had you. But then some guy sent me the script and claimed it’s about to be made. I got no idea if he’s right or not but this sure seems like the script so why the fuck not review it. ON VIDEO. because that’s how you review scripts now, it is a video, that is the technology they use.

The script I read is dated February 2009, so it looks like they’re really still trying to do this. On page 1 there’s already a character named Torrez yelling over a radio, “Machete, you son of a bitch! I told you to wait! Set up a perimeter and wait for further orders. You hear me, Pendejo!?”

So I knew this was the type of movie I’m into.

The plot is the same as the trailer. Machete is an ex-federale undocumented worker hired by a sleazy white dude (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate a right wing senator. But it’s a set up, another sniper tries to kill Machete so he has to get away and kill everybody. Usually in a story like this you also gotta prove your innocence, but Machete is NOT innocent. So he doesn’t have to bother with that.

Machete’s psychological profile describes him as having “Old Testament-style concepts of vengeance,” and he spends the movie demonstrating those concepts. And he can take it as well as he can dish it out. He has an old bullet in his skull. When he gets new wounds he has a new spin on the old home-surgery scene where he uses an Ancient Aztec technique involving onions. He says he was “born in the fire.” But he’s not just going around chopping people up like Jason, the script finds many absurd types of action. There’s a machete vs. sword duel, some souped up “road warrior cars,” a gun that fires machetes, a dog that stabs people.

The script is lookin good. This is a good recipe, now they gotta cook it well. I’ve been told it has a ten million dollar budget, which might be too much. But if Rodriguez goes out there and shoots it Mariachi style it could turn out great. Let’s keep the digital shit to a minimum and the real stunts to a maximum. If it’s executed properly it’s got pleny of things you want in a movie like this: knifings, explosions, decapitation, dismemberment, crucifixion, dog fights. There’s also a bunch of sex scenes. Women love Machete like he’s Shaft or James Bond. It is definitely not an enlightened view of women, although Rodriguez puts some Jack Hill style feminism in there by having not one but two asskicking women. But they are the type of asskickers who sometimes wear what the script calls “hot cop lingerie.”

I’m a little concerned that the female lead, Homeland Security officer Elektra Rivers, has a twin sister who she always calls “bitch” and “slut.” That might mean Rodriguez wants to cast The Crazy Babysitter Twins, which would mean shooting his own niece in bed with Danny Trejo. Kinda creepy. Oh well, Dario Argento has done worse.

This is a weird thing because it’s a movie based on a non-existent movie. So it’s in quotation marks, or it’s meta or postmodern ironical or some shit. But I don’t think it should be a joke or a parody, it should be Rodriguez really trying to make an awesome Danny Trejo action vehicle. I hope he makes it with a straight face, a little more Desperado than Planet Terror, but the script does get jokey a few times. There’s an admittedly hilarious childhood flashback scene where young Machete, wearing Zorro pajamas, has his treehouse surrounded by a SWAT team. It  will get a big laugh but I wish Rodriguez was disciplined enough to leave those type of jokes out. I don’t need no SPY KIDS shit in my Charles Bronson movie. But oh well, it’s what he wants to do and I think people will like it.

By the way, Machete is portrayed as a mythical protector of illegal immigrants. I hope somebody on Fox News gets riled up about that. This whole thing where we laugh every time they say “teabagging” can’t last forever, they’re gonna need some new material. If Machete’s immigration policy offends you I encourage you to still enjoy the movie the same way we liberals did RED DAWN in the ’80s. We knew it was some crazy shit but it was still a funny movie.

I believe Rodriguez said MACHETE would be a “mexploitation movie,” and that’s the perfect description of this thing. It’s loaded with all the stereotypes and cliches associated with Latinos in the United States, but sort of reclaims them. There’s an arms dealer who works out of a taco truck. The villains are the advisor to a right wing anti-immigration senator and the Minnitmen who follow him. Machete can disguise himself as a janitor, he leads an army of other undocumented workers, who hide weapons in their mops and garden tools. So it’s got a good class theme going too. Of course they gotta get some Catholicism in there too so they have a church and a Padre, I’m guessing still played by Cheech Marin as in the trailer. He gets to blow some motherfuckers away and in my opinion is not one of the more ethical padres.

Anyway, I hope they really are making this thing, because the world needs Danny Trejo vehicles and, more broadly, it needs this type of ’80s Craig Baxley approach to action. Not everything needs to be Jason Bourne. Sometimes you need one where the hero chops off body parts from inside a moving vehicle. Sometimes you need Machete.

you know what, this probly woulda been easier if I just wrote it all down, not sure what’s up with this video review deal

[ratings]

This entry was posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 12:11 pm and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

54 Responses to “Script review (on video): MACHETE”

  1. Sheesh, now I know why I usually don’t watch video reviews. (This is seriously the first time I ever did.)
    Let’s just say that a transcript of this would be nice. And while I seem to be the only one of your fans (or at least in the group of fans who comment on your websight) who is 100% behind your Twitter experiment, I think that this video just crossed a line that you should never cross again. (But it was still more entertaining than anything that Script Girl ever did.)

    Have a nice day!

  2. It’s your words, your “voice” that keep me coming back to the site to read your reviews. My problem with this video is that your words are overwhelmed by the music and visuals. More often than not, I couldnt even hear the review beneath all the gobbelty-gook. I don’t disagree with the idea of you doing a video review, as CJ Holden does, but I think that at this point, the style is too hyperkinetic and the sound too incomprehensible to really be effective. Also, why the aversion to including your own voice? I think such a thing would only heighten the impact of the video overall. All that stuff aside, though, I was stoked to hear that Machete is still on track, and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to chime in with the 1st script review.

  3. Lots of potential, I just had trouble hearing what the voice was saying.

  4. Hey! I liked it! Good style, the whole “throwback” thing works pretty well and the you did put some cool videoclips in there.
    The only bad thing was the voice, it was hard to understand at times, but I liked the 70′s style “trailer voice” narration.
    Please, do some more videos, I am sure you can work the audio problem out.
    May the OLEG be with ya!

  5. Um, am I the only one who got that this was intended to be hard to listen to? Because it was, you know, one of them satirical-type joke dealies?

    You’re a motherfucker of rare words, Vern. Let’s hope you stick to them.

  6. No doubt Vern is having us on. He’s made it utterly incomprehensible on purpose, probably to satirize video bloggers, or ScriptGirl, or something entirely different. Well done, I guess!

  7. yeah that sucked, I’m sorry I couldn’t finish it. I was surprised you’d use your own voice, but that robot is no good man

  8. If you just used your voice this would be perfect, the images and especially the music rock

  9. Well Vern, I appreciate the effort and I thought it was hilarious, in an intentionally awful way, but maybe you should reserve video reviews for special occasions. I couldn’t understand half the shit OK Computer was saying underneath the music, and as the other guy said, about a minute in I was thinking “man, I wish I had a transcript of this”. Your written prose is too good to be lost in the muddle!

  10. It was pretty cool, Vern. The Argento part was funny.I hope this means better movies are coming from Rodriguez.

  11. Don’t worry guys, I haven’t lost my mind. I’m just fuckin around. The points I’m trying to make aren’t really coming across, but oh well. I will be back to normal soon.

    Sorry if the sound mix is bad, I am an amateur. I think I can add subtitles on youtube but I gotta go to work now.

    thanks fellas

  12. That was pretty hilarious Vern. It was a fantastic rip on those stupid video reviews. My favorite parts, the added-in “buffering” notices (they happen all the time on these things and it makes them unwatchable) and “thanks a lot technology, you really fucked me over on this one.” Excellent work as always.

  13. Vern, I think it’s exciting that you’ve taken this set back from geocities and run with it and turned into an opportunity to embrace a lot of new stuff.
    In the future if you do more videos (and I think you should) just use your real voice. Sure we all love the Vern mystique. And at this point nothing less than the gruff voice of Lee Marvin could live up to our expectations. We’ll all be disappointed.
    At first, and then we’ll grow the fuck up. We’ll all realize that you got to be great by being who you are, not by trying to impress everyone with mystery. Good video.

  14. I was a little disappointed when you didn’t do a big April Fools thing this year like you did last year. Now I realize you were saving up material for your Twitter post, and now this. Good shit, Vern. It’s about time someone satirized this kind of horseshit.

  15. I thought the concept was pretty hysterical, and the robotic voice is fucking awesome. The audio mix does leave a lot to be desired, but hey, this was far more ambitious than I thought it would be when I clicked on it.

  16. I couldn’t be against this after the intro.

  17. caruso_stalker217

    April 27th, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Fucking hilarious.

  18. @Great Unwashed –
    I second that! The intro was brilliant.
    Near perfect satire. Classic Vern.
    Keep up the good work!

  19. Vern, good video. Amateurish, but with attitude and kickass love, I like it. But the music was so fucking loud, I couldn’t hear what your “voice” was saying.

    I guess you still want to stay in witness protection, right?

  20. Personally I thought this was hilarious. As intentionally (and unintentionally) crude as it was, there was still more craftsmanship and insight in this prototype than most of the video film review/movie news blogs that I currently know of on the internet. The sound mix was a little off but I watched it with headphones so I heard most of the Stephen Hawking voice-over. I feel bad that you clowns are discouraging Vern from this type of behavior, he put some work into this thing and joined Twitter for crying out loud. What more do you want from him?

  21. Very funny review and brilliant spoof of movie vloggers like Latino Review and ScriptGirl, but I’d have to agree with others have been saying; subtitles or a posted transcript would be much appreciated.

    I’d have to respectfully disagree with Rusty James and say that I enjoy the mystery of not knowing your real voice. It’s cool that we all have our own ideas of what you look or sound like, and the only way these video reviews could get better is if you hired one of those voice actors they use to dub in half of Seagal’s dialogue in his DTV work.

    P.S. Loved the use of that Argento picture — it says damn near everything about the filmmaker in one shot!

  22. Saw the Switchblade Sisters poster. Vern, I’d recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet.

  23. I’m glad you didn’t use your real voice, because to me, Vern is an enigma, and an enigma has no voice, no face.

    It’s just a pity that I couldn’t listen to the voice even while it wasn’t overwhelmed by some sound effect, so I stopped watching at 1:28. I might watch the rest just to see if it was intentional or not, but there it is.

    The intro was awesome, though.

    Also, I am not the Patrick who posted above.

  24. Man, i like to read your Twitter. Don´t give up!

  25. I thought he was satirising script reviews, not video reviews. A script is meant to be watched on screen, not read.. just as a review is meant to read, not watched. I might be missing the point though, haven’t bothered with video reviews before.

  26. ChopperSullivan

    April 28th, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Wow, I thought this was one of the best things Vern’s ever done. Guess I’m in the minority.

  27. Sounds like you’ve got one of them there cancer kazoo’s. Sorry ’bout your luck.

  28. No more Vern twitter? Me sad.

  29. Quality! I fucking hate this move to video reviews on websites. If I wanted to see movies reviewed I’d watch TV. You nailed what’s wrong with the whole phenomena. I’m not sure how anyone could have taken this seriously though did they think that was legit youtube buffering at the beginning. You appear to have been too succesful at apeing this shit.

  30. I cannot stress enough how completely accurate and hilarious that was. BRAVO.

    Additionally…I must now find and buy that “Coffy” poster.

  31. Jacks Lack of Motivation

    April 28th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Well, until they can fire concepts directly into my brain with a mind cannon and eliminate all words, I guess this will have to do.

    Okay I cheated and read it first, but I did then have to watch it for ‘Thanks technology, you really fucked me on this one.’ The robo-voice reminds me of Radiohead’s Fitter Happier; that song should totally have ended the same way.

    It would be great if Rodriguez played the movie straight (well, it would be great anyway, but even better…). Of all the Grindhouse trailers though I was surprised to find I thought Eli Roth’s was the most convincing: “Son of a BITCH!”

  32. didn’t watch the video. good review through. thanks for not giving too much away.
    i’m sure this will be another one of my favourite box office failures. can’t wait.

  33. That was a fantastic satire Vern. I’m shocked more people weren’t picking up on the fact that this was all one big joke. God, that opening was genius. I almost fell off my chair laughing at Ghost Dog: Resurrection.

  34. GHOST DOG: RESURRECTION is my dream DTV sequel. It would be a return to the Ghost Dog characters but now as a ridiculous action movie. If you can’t tell the picture shows RZA (reprising his “camouflage samurai” character) and the original ice cream man and the little girl, now grown up. All of the original cast who do not have Oscars return, in other words. But now the ice cream man has a Blade sword and rocket launchers on the front of his truck. Director: Isaac Florentine.

  35. Classic shit Vern. Thanks for kicking ass with the satire and still somehow actually reviewing the script.

    loudabagel!!!

  36. Crap, now I want to see that version of GHOST DOG: RESURRECTION happen, but I’ll settle for E.T. fighting Gremlins and Predators.

  37. The Limits of Control is as close of a sequel as were gonna get to Ghost Dog. I’m looking forward to that one.

  38. Excellent,your style .Your robotic voice makes you an official space outlaw http://tinyurl.com/d7f6h4.

  39. Vern makes the internet worthwhile.

  40. JudiciousHooker

    April 30th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I think it’s cool that you’re trying out YouTube videos, but if they’re going to have talking, you need somebody who talks quickly and clearly. The robot can do neither.

    Also, it was kind of funny how you made a joke out of taking two minutes to start the review, but this is the internet–after two minutes the video should already be over.

    The main purpose of these videos is to get talking really fast and then have pictures and text popping up at the same time, so the viewer is processing information faster than either reading or listening alone. Then if you slip some joke image in there for a fraction of a second it seems really clever even if it isn’t. Scriptgirl’s actually a pretty good role model for how to do it right.

  41. i thought it was great vern!! the videos might be ironic but for me they would still be a welcome addition to your sight =)

  42. Great stuff Vern, I also disliked LR’s switch to the video reviews, maybe if they made me giggle like yours, I would give them another shot.

  43. video was fucking amazing.
    call it a late april fools. haha.

  44. I am all for the Twitter posts and the video review (need a better voice because the Vern writing style doesn’t come through) Keep them coming.

  45. You should have recorded your own voice, and then disguised it with sound altering technology. AVS is a program that allows you to alter sound recordings, and it’s not just speeding up or slowing down, but you can change the pitch, tone, etc., so you won’t really have to worry about people trying to tweek it to get to your voice….well, I can’t say that for sure….but it would definitely improve the video.

  46. I was in a video store today and I heard a familiar sound… the funky electric piano version of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Deodato, as heard throughout this video review. I looked up and it was BEING THERE with Peter Sellers playing on the monitor. I’ve never seen that movie, somehow, and had no idea that song was in there.

    I bought that record a few years ago, I had no idea who Deodato was, but the album was called “2001″ and had a weird cover, so I bought it, and because of that song I didn’t regret it. I transferred it from vinyl to use in the video. I thought it was really obscure. Turns out they play the whole damn thing in BEING THERE!

    So if anybody was wondering, no, that was not supposed to be a reference to BEING THERE. That wouldn’t make any sense. It was supposed to be a reference to 2001, which also doesn’t make any sense.

  47. as for the voice everybody hates, sorry, it makes me laugh so I used it. You should hear that voice read my reviews of GARFIELD or THE ARISTOCRATS. You’ll change your mind and that voice will be your hero. I should release a book on tape.

  48. No no, the voice is great. It’s just that the music is a little loud and it makes it hard to understand. I think its a good compromise to write it out too, but by all means, never feel shame for the voice. the voice is genius.

  49. For reference, via Slate:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11161493

    I found this interesting, especially in the midst of the current Christopher Hitchens ordeal.

  50. Thank you, spambot, for bringing this post back into the limelight so people know where to write about MACHETE until I get my review up.

  51. I’ve just returned from the theatre. Simply put, Machete is the best film of 2010 so far.

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