***Official ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Scott Weinberg, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Once Upon a Time in Mexico [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of 5

    Whenever a big bloated movie comes along, one common observation is that "there's probably a damn good 95-minute film buried in that pretentious 3-hour mess". Just the opposite is true of Robert Rodriguez's latest flick, a muddled, confusing and intermittently dazzling action film that would be a whole lot more satisfying were it more 'epic' and less 'hurried'.

    What we've got here is a movie that was clearly a whole lot longer at some point prior to the editing booth. Serpentine subplots, copious collections of eclectic background characters, an irritating habit of harried exposition and a laborious devotion to flashback sequences all combine to tell one annoying tale: this flick was chopped to bits at some point, probably in an effort to make it as commercial as possible.

    As it stands, Once Upon a Time in Mexico features a few arcane (and therefore enjoyable) performances, a handful of very exciting action bits...and scene after scene of non-stop lip service. After less than a half hour, you'll have given up trying to figure out who's a good guy, who's a bad guy, what each character's motivation is, and why you should care when such sketchily realized caricatures repeatedly betray one another...when you can't even tell who's on the same side in the first place!

    This big sweaty ball of South of the Border mayhem centers around "El Mariachi" (Antonio Banderas) and the fact that he's been enlisted by a dangerously unstable CIA operative (Johnny Depp, approaching Crispin Glover territory here) to assassinate one fella who's set to assassinate a different fella. Only he's supposed to wait until the second assassin's contract is fulfilled...or maybe he's not supposed to wait. See, the plot shifts around like Tetris pieces, interrupted periodically for a flashback sequence or an action scene or an action sequence told in flashback.

    Though it's in many ways an ungainly mess of a flick, Once Upon a Time in Mexico bears more than enough fruit to offer at least a half-hearted recommendation. Banderas is suitably macho and ass-kicktastic; Depp offers the world yet another endearingly bizarre performance; Salma Hayek (though only onscreen for about 12 minutes) proves a curvaceous distraction as well as one hell of a knife-thrower; slimy guys like Willem Defoe and Danny Trejo and Mickey Rourke sleaze their way around the movie to an entertaining degree; the action centerpieces are colorfully realized and aptly invigorating... This is certainly not an awful movie.

    But just the same I'm hoping for some sort of "Director's Cut" come DVD time. This current flick is edited so bizarrely and shows up so dramatically misshapen that one can almost feel the editor's scissors at work. Restore this one to its less "cineplex-friendly" form and I guarantee you end up with a better film. At the very least it would probably make sense.

    The movie feels like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that have been wedged together with a rubber mallet. Still, large sections of the puzzle mesh quite well and deliver some solid escapist fun. Worth seeing for the good bits; get popcorn during the talky spots.
     
  2. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    This is now the official review thread for "Once Upon A Time In Mexico". Please post all full-length reviews here.

    For discussion of this film, please visit the official discussion thread which is located HERE.

    Thanks,

    Jason
    Home Theater Forum
     
  3. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] 1/2 out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Way too many characters, too many plots, and Danny Trejo is so much cooler when he doesn't talk. Action gets very repetitive and it's very hard to follow.
     
  4. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Once Upon A Time In Mexico

    When a film starts off in it credits with the following words, “a Robert Rodriguez Flick” and with the editor and cinematographer credited somewhere along the lines with “Shot, Cut and Chopped by Robert Rodriguez”, it sets its tone right away and its principal filmmaker knows that his latest work is not to be taken ever so seriously.

    It is at this level that Rodriguez’s Once Upon A Time In Mexico works primarily. The comedy is well placed and the action sequences are so over the top. The decibel level at my screening was above their normal levels to give more emphasis to the shootings and explosions. It also works because its plot, while fairly straightforward, is populated with characters and certain storylines that require one’s attention to fully understand its place in the bigger scheme of things. But its entire story is neither confusing nor convoluted. What I also like about this installment is that it is a stand-alone film despite supposedly being the third in a series.

    Where Mexico somewhat strays is in the violence factor that, at times, contradicts its freewheeling image. And because of this, it is more likely to appeal to its targeted male audience. One other aspect I did not care for is the excessive use of CGI explosions that were so bad and noticeable.

    While Antonio Banderas is the star of the first two installments, it is Johnny Depp that is clearly in the forefront this time around and stands out above the rest of the cast. Salma Hayek plays a very minor supporting role.

    Overall, Once Upon A Time In Mexico manages to squeak out [​IMG] (out of four) keeping fully in mind of its fun and escapist intentions with show master Robert Rodriguez in full control of its narrative and visual flare.

    ~Edwin
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I might have to see this film again because I was very unimpressed by it. I was so looking forward to this film. I guess part of my letdown was finding out that Hayek was hardly in the film. Thankfully, Depp stepped up to the plate, otherwise, I would never even entertain the possibility of giving this film another chance.




    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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  7. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Oh, my rating of this film is [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] .
     
  8. Clint

    Clint Stunt Coordinator

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    You guys have been too generous for this pile of crap. A bigger budget does not always equate to a better script. [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    This film is short on character development, and plot development. Things happen, but how you get from point A to B to C are not quite explained, which leads to a lot of stuff happening, but not cohesively so. While the macro-story is far too big and unwieldy for the short run-time of the film, the character bits are lacking (though Depp does gets to chew the scenery in an understated style).

    There are many loud explosive scenes, and slow-motion shots of bodies being sent into the air after being riddled by gun shoots. The problem is that there is not much of an emotional connection when someone gets shoot or killed in the film. The musical score is bombastic (in an overdone fashion) in many scenes, much to the fault of the director who also scored the film.

    I give it 2 stars, or a grade of C.
     
  10. Angel Pagan

    Angel Pagan Second Unit

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    I also give it [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And that one is for Johnny Depp. Too bad Willem Dafoe didn't have more to work with. I felt like I was watching an MTV video.
     
  11. Felipe S

    Felipe S Stunt Coordinator

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    I also give it [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    why? totally pointless. story, characters, events, plot 'twists'... just pointless. One never really cared for what was happening or why it was happening. Most gunfights were also completely pointless. Highly dissapointing.
     
  12. Eric Emma

    Eric Emma Supporting Actor

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    Something we can all learn from this film...

    Just because the plot is complex, it doesn't make it good

    Let me first say I WAS HYPED for this film since I loved desperado! Now let me say how utterly disappointed I was after seeing it. Everything was utter crap in this movie Characters, action, plot, EVERYTHING!

    First thing that needs to be addressed is the amount of characters in this film. I think the main problem was that they didn't establish a main character, everyone pretty much got equal screen time. Now that could work I suppose, if the movie wasn't ABOUT FRICKIN ANTONIO BANDERAZ!!!!! Also all the characters sucked except for Johnny Depp! Now back on to the point about it being about antonio banderaz. If Robert Rodiguez was trying to set it up as the El Mariachi was a legend, a myth and you didn't see him that much that be fine but you saw him too much for it to be established that way. I could go more in dept with this but I'm not going to...

    Next the action... Anyone who saw desperado, will tell you it ROCKED! The saying that comes to mind here is, Too Little, Too Late Also the other el mariachi's sucked and so did there guitars.

    I'm going stop here and just give my rating...

    [​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  13. Hector X. Cruz

    Hector X. Cruz Stunt Coordinator

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    I SOOOO wanted to love this movie. I was so excited to see it finally be released. I am a HUGE Desperado fan and was hoping for Rodriguez to build on the mythology and feel established by the first 2 films.

    I walked out of the theater on Friday sorely disappointed and moreso than I'd been in a very long time. I HATED OUATIM. The opening shot of Johnny Depp in the restaurant was great and even through to the establishing story told by Cheech Marin, everything seemed to be falling into place. I liked that Carolina (Hayek's character) now figured into the Mariachi legend and played on her lethal sensuality.

    After that, it all went downhill. I wanted to leave at the half-way point. The action scenes were cut so poorly and nothing like those in Desperado. Granted, I loved the style over substance approach in Desperado, but here the editing got in the way. Particularly scenes where people are re-loading their guns, the use of literally dozens of 1 or 2-frame shots was so hard to watch and follow.

    Too many characters, convoluted plot, and unnecessarily chop-stop editing worked against this film. I will not be buying this film on DVD and I so longed for a wonderful box set sitting on my shelf.

    I give it:

    1/2 [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    -Hector
     
  14. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    Maybe you guys missed something, or don't remember much about Desperado and El Mariachi (of which I've only seen parts), but I LOVED this film!

    The action was really good, the acting was amazing on all ends, the story wasn't really that complex (I paid relatively close attention and caught everything), the cinematography and editing and music were superb, and I found nothing to really be at fault with this film.

    The El Mariachi character is developed through 2 other movies, so there's no point in developing him further. His brothers (or partners, whatever they're supposed to be) didn't really need development, they're developed a little bit throughout the movie and don't seem too complex. The Marques (sp?) guy seemed pretty straightforward as well, and only Johnny Depp's character really needed a relatively good amount of screentime in order to develop himself.

    The girl could have used more screentime, simply because she's a rather important plot character, but I think the amount given was fine.

    In the end, all you need to know to get the story is that Johnny Depp tried to "play" everyone, but someone got him, and he got them back, losing out overall.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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