Elizabeth Avellan

Elizabeth Avellan

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Spy Kids: All The Time In The World Review


Weak
Rodriguez attempts to reboot his children's adventure series with this raucously colourful fourth film, which uses the 4D gimmick of Aroma-scope. But it feels more like a cheap kids' TV series than an actual movie.

Rebecca and Cecil (Blanchard and Cook) are young teens living with their TV-host dad Wilbur (McHale) and his sexy new wife Marissa (Alba). No one knows that Marissa is actually a super-spy who has retired to give birth to a daughter. But now the world is being threatened by the sinister Timekeeper, and her boss (Piven) asks her to come back to work. When Rebecca and Cecil end up in the middle of things, they discover that they're rather adept at being spy kids, mentored by now-grown siblings Carmen and Juni (Vega and Sabara).

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Machete Review


Very Good
Essentially part three of the Grindhouse series, this old-style thriller sprang from Rodriguez's fake trailer. In some ways it should have stayed that short, because while it's riotously entertaining, there's nothing much to it.

Machete (Trejo) is a disgraced Mexican Federale who's hiding amongst the illegal immigrants on the Texas-Mexico border. Here he stumbles into a conspiracy involving a trigger-happy senator (DeNiro) and a wild-eyed vigilante (Johnson) who are cleaning up the border one bullet at a time. But he also runs up against a sexy immigration officer (Alba), a ruthless businessman (Fahey) and a trail of criminality leading to his nemesis Torrez (Seagal). As things get nasty, he gets help from his priest brother (Marin) and a feisty taco-truck lady (Rodriguez).

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Predators Review


OK
Stylish direction and an above-average cast help lift this noisy action sequel above the fray. But nothing can disguise the fact that it's also contrived, chaotic and ultimately pointless.

Eight people wake up in freefall as they drop into a mysterious jungle. It's clear that they've been carefully selected: the mercenary tough guy (Brody), brainy scientist (Grace), military hero (Braga), death-row maniac (Goggins), Russian fighter (Taktarov), Mexican brawler (Trejo), Yakuza killer (Changchien) and African warrior (Ali). And they soon realise that they're on some alien planet, acting as both prey and predators in some sick hunting game. Then they encounter a jittery nutcase (Fishburne) who has somehow eluded attack for several years.

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Shorts Review


OK
This hyperactive adventure may keep children giggling at the sheer chaos on screen, but it'll wear out older viewers looking for something that actually holds the attention.

Toe Thompson (Bennett) is a lonely kid in school, picked on relentlessly by the school bully Helvetica (Vanier) and her big brother Cole (Gearhart). They're the children of Mr Black (Spader), owner of the monolithic company that employs everyone in town, including Toe's parents (Cryer and Mann). Then Toe finds a mysterious rainbow-coloured rock that has the ability to grant wishes. After passing through the hands of his schoolmates Loogie and Nose (Gagnon and Short), the town is awash in walking crocodiles and giant boogers. And Helvetica is about to get her hands on it.

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Grindhouse Review


Excellent
Longtime buddies Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have worked together before (Four Rooms, Sin City), but this takes it to the next level. Grindhouse is their shared B-movie fantasy: a three-hour, bare-knuckled double feature epic, an unapologetic celebration of '70s-era hardcore schlock that's authentic, witty beyond expectation, and unerringly crowd-pleasing.

In a recent TV interview, Tarantino said he and Rodriguez had always wished those low-budget flicks were as good as their posters -- and they set out to achieve that, decades after the movies' heyday. With an obvious passion for the genre, the pair has recreated the experience of being at some cheap Texas drive-in with two features, fake coming attractions, missing reels, local ads, and announcements from theater management. Even if you don't catch on to everything, just watching the package is a complete thrill.

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Secuestro Express Review


Bad
Someday filmmakers will tire of the sound of hammers clicking into the chambers of handguns and the sight of amped-up thugs terrorizing their victims. Until that day, though, we're stuck with films like Secuestro Express. A routine kidnap thriller from Venezuela gussied up in some socially relevant finery, it manages to take a setting of volcanic unrest and reduce it to the most banal of stories. If one were to find something good to say about it, then that thing would be: It's nice for variety's sake to at least see the same old effluvia coming from a different country than usual.The title of Secuestro Express ("Express Kidnapping") comes from the trend of quickie kidnappings in Latin America, and the film's look aims to capture the rapid-fire nature of these endeavors. Shot with DV cameras on the streets of Caracas, the film - written and directed by first-timer Jonathan Jacubowicz, who was himself briefly kidnapped a few years back - starts in the early morning hours and is over in time for the surviving principals to grab lunch. A quick montage of news footage establishes Caracas as a roiling cauldron of discontent where anything can happen. Given its ostensible interest in the plight of the city's poor, however, the same point would have been gotten across if they'd just played "Welcome to the Jungle" over the credits. Then there's the camera-in-overdrive visual style familiar from TV crime procedurals.In true post-noir style, Jacubowicz bangs out the film's principal characters, giving them each their own identifying stylized freeze-frame (example: "BUDU-Painter. Rapist. Sentimental Father"). The kidnapping crew, a hopped-up trio of gunslingers, takes their targets at 5:30am and then drive around for a while, trying to get a quick pile of cash out of their (hopefully) rich parents. Carla and Martin, stylish engaged yuppies who like clubbing and cocaine, seem to be good targets, and it looks like their fathers will cough up the ransom before more than a few hours have passed.In between, the kidnap crew rolls around Caracas, smoking up, having Martin get money out of the ATM, and shoving their guns into the abductees' heads (they do that a lot). Like the filmmakers, they seem somewhat at a loss for what to do. Before long, things will have come to a conclusion of sorts, but only after more guns have been shoved in more faces (that happens a lot). As a kidnap thriller, Secuestro Express is a complete bore, but what's worse is that it occasionally seems to imagine it's making a point.Class warfare underpins the story, with the kidnapped being harangued endlessly about flaunting their privilege in a city where "half the population is starving." "You rich are just asking to get killed," they're told at one point. But Jacubowicz seems to just be trying to find an easy reason to give audience sympathy to his kidnappers and to deprive the kidnapped of any. It's hard to explain away the film's sadistic delight in the torture and debasement of the kidnapped when none of the kidnappers seem that badly off, and one (Trece) is even identified as middle-class. The film even undercuts its own class warrior status by assigning all the traits of the thoughtful and reluctant criminal - there's always one in a film like this - to the middle-class character, showing the other two lower-class ones as little better than animals.Supposedly, Secuestro Express (the first Venezuelan film to be distributed by a Hollywood studio) was to open our eyes to the reality of the situation in Caracas. Point taken, crime there is out of control. But it's hard not to think - especially after the film's crass, cheap, and manipulative conclusion - that a film which actually showed the horrid conditions of the city would have been more effective than one which simply wallowed in bloody gangster posing.

Spy Kids Review


Excellent
There are few respectable filmmakers in the world that would take on the difficult challenge of creating a children's movie. I don't mean those hack directors who just sit behind the camera and yell "action" and "print," but those few who take on the challenge of writing, directing, producing, and even editing a successful film for the underage masses. Creating a fantasy world with non-abrasive violence, imaginative sets and props, and engaging characters to follow is a tough process. With Spy Kids, Robert Rodriguez proves that his handling of adult fare extends to kids' stuff, too.

My favorite films are from my childhood -- Flash Gordon, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Mary Poppins, the Muppets movies, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and The Never-Ending Story -- and they all presented an impossible world made real only by the power of imagination. Spy Kids ranks up there with the best children's films by creating implausible scenarios made from martial arts stunts, gee-whiz spy gadgets, robots built entirely of huge thumbs, a holodeck-like room filled with rolling clouds and stretches of golden sands, and providing total escapism for both kids and adults.

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Sin City Review


Excellent
You typically have to maintain low expectations for a comic book movie. For every Spider-Man, you get a bunch of Elektras and Daredevils. So really, what can you expect from one with a huge, B-list cast and three directors?

Surprise! Sin City is a mega-violent, highly potent vial of noir crack. And judging from the riotous burst of applause at the end of our screening, one that's destined to be a Matrix-style mass-cult classic.

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Once Upon A Time In Mexico Review


Good
Once Upon a Time in Mexico has everything it needs to rise to the grand occasion the film's title suggests. And written on the theater marquee, the title resonates nicely with two classic Sergio Leone epics, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America. Director Robert Rodriguez has his El Mariachi / Desperado trilogy in the right place to deliver on such a grandiose promise: the lead character comes to the film with a tragic history and a cult following. The cast qualifies as "all-star," featuring matinee pretty boys, sultry Latin ladies and some of Hollywood's most recognizable baddies. The characters run a larger-than-life gamut of legends, presidents, corrupt government agents, and cartel leaders, each with enough grudges, ferocity, and posse to start a professional wrestling federation.

But Leone developed similar elements into films that ran more than three hours. Rodriguez packs it all into 97 minutes and can't help but give only suggestions of a plot and impressions of the forces that drive it. Nevertheless, once the bullets start flying and the one-liners start ricocheting, it doesn't matter much that Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a confusing mess of a film. When it works, you don't care about all the times it doesn't.

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The Faculty Review


Very Good
Finally. We always knew Robert Rodriguez had talent as a filmmaker. We were just waiting for someone to put a good script in his hands, and Kevin Williamson has done that here. Do not be fooled by the woefully bad trailers, or by the fact that critics have roundly panned this horror film. The Faculty is easily the best of the genre to come along since Williamson's breakout hit, Scream. It is also the first watchable film Rodriguez has put up since storming onto the scene with El Mariachi.

Easily the biggest problem with this movie is in the marketing. I can only imagine how pissed off Williamson, Rodriguez, and everyone else involved in the movie must have been to see the film marketed as just another schlocky entry into the horror genre, which generally takes the words aliens; teenagers; battle; suspicious; killer; small town; etc. and jumble them up to come up with a concept (to wit, this time: suspicious small town teenagers battle killer aliens). Now if you are already a big 80s horror fan, just skip this review, because you already saw the movie, but this review is for people who are highly suspicious of shelling out eight bucks to see a horror flick. The only reason I actually saw The Faculty was because my little sister begged me to. But now I'm trying to convince you to.

Continue reading: The Faculty Review

Elizabeth Avellan

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Elizabeth Avellan Movies

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World Movie Review

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World Movie Review

Rodriguez attempts to reboot his children's adventure series with this raucously colourful fourth film, which...

Machete Movie Review

Machete Movie Review

Essentially part three of the Grindhouse series, this old-style thriller sprang from Rodriguez's fake trailer....

Predators Movie Review

Predators Movie Review

Stylish direction and an above-average cast help lift this noisy action sequel above the fray....

Shorts Movie Review

Shorts Movie Review

This hyperactive adventure may keep children giggling at the sheer chaos on screen, but it'll...

Grindhouse Movie Review

Grindhouse Movie Review

Longtime buddies Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have worked together before (Four Rooms, Sin City),...

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Spy Kids Movie Review

Spy Kids Movie Review

There are few respectable filmmakers in the world that would take on the difficult challenge...

Sin City Movie Review

Sin City Movie Review

You typically have to maintain low expectations for a comic book movie. For every Spider-Man,...

Once Upon a Time in Mexico Movie Review

Once Upon a Time in Mexico Movie Review

Once Upon a Time in Mexico has everything it needs to rise to the grand...

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Movie Review

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Movie Review

Companies have created a number of brain-numbing devices to milk the susceptible wallets of adolescents...

The Faculty Movie Review

The Faculty Movie Review

Finally. We always knew Robert Rodriguez had talent as a filmmaker. We were...

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D Movie Review

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D Movie Review

It seems entirely possible that Robert Rodriguez made Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over in 3-D...

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