Once Upon A Time In Mexico
R2 - United Kingdom - Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Movie Mad (17th April 2004).
The Film

Filmed in 2001, the third and last film in the El Mariachi series doesn't disappoint and in typical style, fills walls and people with bullet holes in spectacular fashion.
The plot, if anyone cares (this is an action flick, after all) revolves around El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) taking an assignment from a C.I.A. agent called Sands (Johnny Depp) to protect the President of Mexico from a drug lord called Barillo (Willem Dafoe) and a corrupt Mexican general. Of course, El Mariachi has a grudge with this general, and he and assistants (Enrique Iglesias and Marco Lenoardi) want to make sure that the general suffers the worst fate possible.
The film is, not to put a point on it, silly. The film has a suspension of disbelief that makes even Kill Bill look like a movie that has a degree in physics. We have people climbing walls, Depp wearing a vast array of costume changes (which includes at one point the words C.I.A. are in huge letters on his shirt) and a remote controlled guitar case bomb. I'm not lying.
If you can get past that (you will), you have some great performances. Banderas does his usual Mariachi performance showing that he is a man haunted by his past, Hayek does what she can in a role that lasts for an estimated screentime of 5 minutes, Dafoe does what he can but is lost alongside a bunch of "blink and you'll miss 'em" cameos from Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes and Cheech Marin, and Depp steals the show from everyone while they're not looking. Depp is the funniest and best thing in this movie. A C.I.A. agent who is never a real good guy or bad guy, he killls the chefs who prepare his favourite meal (look out Delia Smith!) and tries to save Mexico. All in all, worth and rent, and good post-pub viewing.

Video

Shot on digital video and screened in cinemas at 2.35:1, the aspect ratio here is 1.78:1 (16:9). Before you shot cropped, this is an open matte presentation and thank god, too. I can't imagine what this would of looked like at the original ratio. Anyway, a solid visual presentation catching the heat soaked Mexican landscape and the action in all of its glory. The film has a mild orange tinge, so don't adjust your TV. Subtitles are available in English, English HOH, Hindu and Russian. The scenes where characters speak Mexican are given player generated subtitles.

Audio

We are presented with 2 Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and Russian that will shake the house, especially the more chaotic gunfights towards the end of the feature. Not much else to say apart from the fact that the dialogue is a little too quiet in the mix.

Extras

We have a commentary from Robert Rodriguez and he is very chatty and informative and obviously has respect for budding filmakers.

Next is 6 featurettes. The first is the "10 Minute Flick School" where Rodriguez goes through how he used special effects to keep costs down. Would be more apt if it was called "10 Minute SFX School". We then go "Inside 'Troublemaker Studios'", which is Rodriguez's production company. You have to be slightly envious of a guy who has managed to transform his garage into a complete professional editing suite. "10 Minute Cooking School" again features Rodriguez, who tells you how to make the dish Depp's character loves so much. I'd take him over any TV chef anyday. Rodriguez then talks about the film in front of some avid film students in "Film Is Dead: An Evening With Robert Rodriguez", who shows that he likes movies. Hell, he LOVES making them. "The Anti-Hero's Journey" is a featurette focusing on Mariachi's evolution across the three films. For avid fans only as this is nothing new if you've already seen the three films. Finally, we have "The Good, The Bad and The Bloody: Inside KNB FX", which follows the special effects team doing various FX shots. It's a shame most of this has been covered in "10 Minute Flick School" as it could of been really interesting. Instead, it's telling you facts you've already heard.

We have 8 Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from Robert Rodriguez. All were obviously cut for length as some of these are gems to behold (many featuring Johnny Depp improvising).

We have DVD-ROM for whoever cares, and trailers for the main feature, Desperado, El Mariachi and The Mask Of Zorro, round of good extras package.

Overall

The Film: B Video: A+ Audio: A- Extras: A- Overall:

 


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