Choices, choices

Machete
 
Starring Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Cheech Marin
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis

 
Centurion
 
Starring Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Dominic West
Directed by Neil Marshall

 


It’s only September, but “registered” moviegoers have a tough choice of which film to see as their cinematic diversion for their hard-earned and dwindling entertainment dollars.  

For example, if a moviegoer identifies with the “action-adventure-slasher” ticket, he might have to choose between Centurion, a blood-soaked epic of Roman soldiers fighting and fleeing indigenous tribes in northern Britain, or Machete, a blood-soaked B-movie of immigrant intrigue, violence and politics along our southern border. What makes this all the more difficult is that, when comparing the “visual platforms” of the two selections, they are nearly identical. To wit:

Danny Trejo in Machete.
Olga Kurylenko in Centurion.

?They both have one word titles that evoke macho bravado
?They are both a story about illegal immigrants invading a northern country and how the northern residents fight — sometimes with brutal and graphic violence — to repel the invaders
?They open with a brutal, graphic and bloody massacre
?There are graphic, blood-spurting depictions of numerous beheadings
?There is a gruesome, yet humorous scene involving a victim’s entrails
?One victim has her eye poked out
?Women are seen as strong and determined “warriors” to the causes they are fighting for (both to repel invaders and help the downtrodden)
?There are plenty uses of the “f-word”
?The dialogue is cheesy and strained
?The protagonist — a strong and stoic man — is an “illegal” immigrant being chased and hounded in the northern land
?The protagonist’s weapon of choice is a large, sharp knife
?The protagonist gets cut, beaten, scarred, unclothed, dirty, and sweaty
?There are plenty of betrayals against the protagonist and others
?There is a scene where the protagonist has to escape from a tight situation on his own using his wits and strength
?The protagonist is injured and is nursed back to health
?There is a character that provides comic relief for the protagonist
?The protagonist knows too much and is thus hunted by those who know that he knows too much
?The protagonist is seemingly aligned with those of his kind, but is ultimately only interested in one cause — himself
?There are female characters who are out for personal vengeance against other male characters
?There are plenty of narrow escapes by characters fleeing those who would brutally and violently behead and eviscerate them
?The prodigious and graphic violence is depicted with quick edits, over-the-top humor, and strobe-like energy
?There are subtitles due to some foreign language utterances from some of the characters
?A relative of the main antagonist is killed, but not by the protagonist
?The protagonist is able to keep on fighting even after he is beaten and relentlessly pursued 
?There are crowd battle scenes where people are slashing each other with all sorts of sharp weapons, but amidst it all is the main battle between the protagonist and the main warrior antagonist (which all the combatants stop and witness)
?One character ends up getting killed inadvertently by one of his own kind
?The protagonist is seen heading off into the sunset with an attractive woman
 
And yet despite all of these similarities, one is purported to be a serious exercise in gritty realism (Centurion), while the other is touted as an over-the-top depiction of campiness (Machete).

Gosh, I really feel for the moviegoer who has to make such a tough choice — especially in this economy where one does not typically have the funds to select both. 

Oh well, how about we flip a coin? Or, there’s always choice “C” — a familiar, “seen it all before” current box office record holder 3D extravaganza. Or, we could go with that ole standby — “none of the above.”

Doug Young is The Statesman’s extraordinary film critic!