Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a shoot ’em up, kill ’em dead kind of a film. Following in the long tradition of spaghetti westerns such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars, director Robert Rodriguez sends his El Mariachi trilogy out with a bang.
Included in the Mariachi series are made for Mexican TV versions of El Mariachi, Desperado and finally Mexico. But Mexico is definitely the most explosive. Filled with Latin stars such as Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Eva Mendes, Danny Trejo and Enrique Iglesias, and complemented with such American big-wigs as Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke and Willem Dafoe, the star-studded cast delivers great performances, fast action and lots of bullets flying out of guitar cases.
What we said then:
Rodriguez doesn’t make his audience wait for action. After frequently working with such directors as Quentin Tarantino, Rodriguez has learned that to capture an audience, one must provide excitement from the first minute.
In his latest release, that’s exactly the philosophy to which Rodriguez adheres.
Rodriguez knows exactly what he is doing when he picks the shots — every one is necessary to convey the full feeling of the scene. Vibrant colors saturate the screen and accentuate the mood of the film. The score, written by Rodriguez, gives authenticity to what he proclaims in the credits to be a flick, but is far more than that.
Mexico, like many other Rodriguez movies, is almost a one-man production. In a time when movie studios spend hundreds of millions of production dollars, Rodriguez keeps his films on the lower end of the monetary spectrum. But the small budget gets a better end result than some movies that spend twice as much on production and marketing. (Sept. 11, 2003).
As with all Rodriguez DVDs, this one is nothing short of spectacular. The disc delivers six seperate featurettes, each as educating and interesting as the other.
The featurettes range in subject and length. The Rodriguez DVD staple, “10 Minute Flick School,” teaches the viewer the tricks of the trade and how to save money on what can be done in post-production rather than on set. The other featurettes, such as “Film is Dead: An Evening with Robert Rodriguez,” talk more about the technical aspects of the film and The Good, the Bad and the Bloody discusses special effects.
The film is accompanied by two commentaries, a more typical director commentary with Rodriguez and a commentary discussing the musical and sound score that highlights the music and sound effects used in the film. It’s an original look at the film that many directors and producers don’t focus on. For Rodriguez, however, the score is a crucial part of the film-viewing experience and this commentary helps the viewer see that.
Olga Robak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org