Monday, May 05, 2014

From Dusk till Dawn: The 7 Hour shift

I love From Dusk Till Dawn. The original Tarantino/Rodriguez team-up movie. Tarantino wrote it. Rodriguez directed it. For me it's a classic. The shift that for half the film you think you're watching a typical Tarantino crime drama only for vampires to appear out of nowhere and it turn into a monster flick. Genius left turn.

But I was kinda surprised to see it had rebooted it as a TV series. Didn't it really work in that form? Did it even need it? What if it was some shoddy remake by people who got hold of the franchise? After all, the sequels weren't meant to be much cop. Turns out that wasn't that much of a worry, because it was Robert Rodriguez that was in charge here and he's made it much more of his thing that the original.

For starters there's far more Mezo-American influence. Hell, even the vampires have gone. Well, changed into something that fits Central America far more than the traditionally European bat people. I don't want to say more to give the game away. But it takes what was an clever sting that was tacked onto the end of the original film and re-imagines the story to revolve around it.

But a seven episode series? The original was just over 100 minutes, can the story handle tripling that? Once again, very much so. In trying to explain this I refer you to the original film which opens with the robbing of a liquor store and the murder of a Texas Ranger. It probably took ten minutes. That is the entirety of the first episode. The whole of the first season plays like that, with minor events explored much more closely. In the wrong hands that could end up disastrous, with far too much navel gazing to hold anyone's interest. But Rodriguez long ago proved he knows what he's doing. Even everything kicking off at the Titty Twister has an extra layer that set up the future of the show.

That mindset applies to the characters too. Carlos, a name thrown around in the movie but only turning up at the end, becomes a central character, and in a very different position to the original. Coupled with Ranger McGraw's new partner, we get a good few extra layers to the series. The pastor – Harvey Keitel being replaced by another From Dusk till Dawn veteran Robert Patrick – and his family are also given much more than just he's struggling with God, as we properly explore just how he's come to lose his faith. It makes the series a fantastic watch for the whole seven hours.

Overall From Dusk till Dawn is an fantastic series. It takes what was an incredibly fun film and makes far more of the character development so the eventual shoot out and fight for survival means a lot more to the viewer. Rodriguez has taken what was a very Tarantino script and made it his own. The original writer is still very much evident, and every now and again there are lines that still sound like they came from his pen. Then again, some of them are directly from the fim.

Yet I'm not sure how it stands on its own, as its playtime is very much an extended version of the film, it's impossible not to project the 1997 original on to it. Do I rate it so highly because of my love of the original film? Some scenes you can practically hear the new actors imitating the old. Which might be the biggest problem the show has. DJ Cortana is no George Clooney, but those shoes were always going to be hard to fill. On the plus side Zane Holtz is much better than Tarantino, and comes across properly creepy and weird, oh and a lot more is made of his insanity here too.
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