watch Machete Kills online It feels like an odd tradition to have. Just about every other year, Fantastic Fest — the beloved pilgrimage of genre film fans to Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse — the opening night film is a complete dud. The first and most notable example of this came in 2009 when Gentlemen Broncos opened the festival, much to the confusion and displeasure of the always keen Fantastic Fest crowd. Following opening night, that year’s festival went on to produce memorable screenings of Antichrist, Fish Story, Zombieland, Gareth Evans’ debut Merantau and many others. It was a great year. The same came two years later when the festival opened with the overwhelmingly unlikable Human Centipede 2, only to yield the debuts of great flicks like You’re Next, Extraterrestrial, A Boy and His Samurai and the Oscar nominee Bullhead. It could be deduced, based on recent history, that the quality of the opening night film is inversely proportional to the quality of the rest of the Fantastic Fest line-up.

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Of course, there is plenty of sense in the choice to make the Danny Trejo led sequel to the fake trailer turned movie Machete the opener of 2013′s Fantastic Fest. Rodriguez is easily the most prominent filmmaker Austin has to offer and the Alamo Drafthouse is an Austin institution first and foremost. Their rises to fame and glory have been paralleled in recent years. On top of that, Machete Kills is, on concept, the exact kind of movie that Fantastic Fest deals in. It’s violent, silly, made with a great deal of love for cult cinema (complete with many usual and unusual Star Wars references) and brought to life by a friend of the festival. The logic behind the choice is strong, the movie is not.

Where Machete Kills gets a lot wrong is where a lot of other movies that will show at Fantastic Fest this week get a lot right. Despite the ongoing proliferation of digital effects, many a great Fantastic Fest film has been praised for its love of the practical. Blood bags and hand-crafted severed limbs. It’s a festival that has long celebrated craftsmanship. With his latest, Rodriguez shows us that he’s less-and-less the craftsman who gave us quality action (a la Desperado) and blood-soaked latex appliances (Planet Terror). Now he’s spraying digital blood at an alarming rate, doing less interesting character work and for some inexplicable reason, he’s lost whatever abilities he had previously to frame an action sequence.

The end result is a movie that fails to be as fun as its concept is on paper. A movie that is far less fun than the trailer upon which it’s based. A movie that is even less fun than the fake trailer for Machete Kills Again… in Space, which runs ahead of the movie. A movie so lumbering and unnecessarily stupid that it has rid this reviewer of the desire to see Rodriguez continue the Machete saga. He could use a trip back to his roots, back to the kid who cut awesome fake trailers. Before he had the arrogance to think that he could turn said trailers into multi-film franchises. Speaking of franchises, perhaps he should just go back and make another Spy Kids movie.

changed September 30, 2013