SDCC 2012 – Movie Review: Dust Up

San Diego Comic-Con isn’t just about comic books, really the majority doesn’t seem to be about comics anymore. Along with that, you’ll find folks promoting television, movies and more. Case in point, Dust Up, which I knew nothing about going into seeing the movie. I received an invite to the movie, so I said “why not, I could use a break from walking” and decided to attend the screening. Seriously, this was my logic.

In a small room about the size of my living room, I sat with about a dozen people including the director and some of the actors including former Buffy actress Amber Benson. It was a very odd experience. Walking in I was greeted by a man who turned out to be Ward Roberts, the writer and director and offered refreshments. So far, pretty interesting….

We walked to a small screening room after sitting around for about 15 minutes where we were told we were the first audience, not involved in the movie, to see the film. That’s a first for me. Finally, one of the cool kids!

Ok, so about the movie and that review…

The movie is a grindhouse western. Post viewing, Roberts admitted this was a labor of love of friends and had little budget. Even with the low-fi feel and at times laughable dialogue and action, there was something so much fun about the film.

The movie follows Jack (Aaron Gaffey), a war vet and his protecting Ella (Amber Benson) whose drug addict husband owes a lot of money to Buzz (Jeremiah Birkett) a local drug dealer and psychopath. Did I mention Jack’s best friend is a man dressed as an Indian? Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it’s over the top. Yes, it’s hilarious.

The story is straight forward, but you can tell people are having fun and just going crazy with the characters playing them so out there that it’s hard not to laugh and enjoy. That’s a good thing, because there’s absolute issues. The first 2/3’s of the movie is a grindhouse/western/b-movie that feels like something Tarantino might recommend. The last third derails a bit with some scenes so over the top, and some plot points that don’t make too much sense. But the blood splattering fights and killings make you forget all of that and just enjoy what’s in front of you.

If this movie hits your town and you’re a fan of this type of movie, absolutely take the opportunity to see it.

Direction: Ward Roberts at times has a great eye. The angles and how he frames some of the scenes and dialogue remind me something I might see Tarantino do, but at the same time it might be a mumblecore movie with the conversations. There’s a quick wit at times in the writing and the back and forth between Jack and Herman is awesome. Absolutely some solid moments and exactly what I’d hope for in this type of movie. Rating: 7

Acting: I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t have fun and go over the top with their characters or the acting. How can you not enjoy it? Mike C. nelson’s Keith stands out in the delivery and movements. There’s no Oscar performance here, but are you expecting it? Rating: 7

Plot: Generally a good guy gets caught into a bad situation and tries to do good. It’s basic, it’s been there, but there’s small details that just stand out, mostly surrounding the characters. A guy wants to be an Indian! Trust me, it’s funny. The first 2/3’s is great and then there’s some issues in the last 1/3. I wish I could give specifics, but that’d ruin the moments. Rating: 6

Overall: I liked the movie. The feel of the film is a B-movie and grindhouse flick. We’re not talking Shakespeare, but I wasn’t expecting it. I wanted over the top acting, violence, crazy scenes and it’s all there. When this movie hits the theaters in the Fall, grab some popcorn and enjoy being able to turn your brain off for an over the top experience. Overall Rating: 7

Graphic Policy was provided with FREE screening of the movie.