Sunday, October 21, 2007

Planet Terror

Year: 2007
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Marley Shelton, Josh Brolin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, Naveen Andrews, Michael Parks

Planet Terror is one half of the Grindhouse double feature, a collaboration of sorts between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, where each director will present one film and combine them in one screening. This is what they used to do back in the 70s, as opposed to the high budget blockbusters which were more popular. So you can say that Rodriguez and Tarantino are trying to pay homage to the past.

This film is Rodriguez's contribution, a zombie type film with enough gore and violence that would make The Hills Have Eyes look like a walk in the park. But then again, Rodriguez throws in so much over-the-topness into his flick, that it ends up looking like a spoof half the time, and in that half it can get quite ridiculous, and even funny in certain moments.

The story begins with Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), a go-go dancer who wants out of the business of dancing on tables for men. She runs into her old boyfriend El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez), a guy who's pretty good with guns. She probably couldn't ask for a better day to run into him, because it's this day that zombies start to walk the earth. It all starts with a deal gone bad between scientist Abby (Naveen Andrews) and military Lt Muldoon (Bruce Willis in a minor role) over a gas that causes people to turn into flesh eating creatures. Soon, a majority of the population becomes infected and turns into zombies, and it's up to Cherry, El Wray, a female doctor (Marley Shelton), the local Sheriff (Michael Biehn), his BBQ cook brother (Jeff Fahey) and a small ragtag group of survivors who are apparently immune to the gas, to stop the infected and survive.

This isn't Spy Kids. There, I said it. Planet Terror is much closer to Rodriguez's campy yet fun vampire flick From Dusk Till Dawn. I had a real blast with that film, especially because George Clooney can still play a badass even when he looks like ER's Doug Ross. And Quentin Tarantino was a riot in that film. But there's no Clooney in Planet Terror. What we do have however, are a bunch of non Grade A actors making a gory spoof. You'll see people like Josh Brolin and Michael Biehn, who aren't A-list by today's Hollywood standards, making a comeback. And they do it pretty well too. McGowan and Freddy Rodriguez are splendid as the leads, and make themselves quite memorable. Check out the cameos from pop star Fergie and Quentin Tarantino too.

But then, the over the top style of Rodriguez is quite numbing after a while. I mean, how much gore and violence and disgusting images can you withstand? Maybe some of you can stomach it, but for me, it got a little too carried away at times. When that happens, it kinda distracts me from the essence of the film. But I'll give credit to Rodriguez for making this film very retro, as if he had filmed it back in the day. He even has a fake movie trailer at the beginning, starring his favourite choices Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin. It's a nice touch indeed.

Verdict: Watch it if you want something different, but not if you hate gore and violence. Even if it is cartoonish. Excuse me while I go find Tarantino's half, Death Proof. (3.5/5)

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