Critics have been unkind to Robert Rodriguez over the years and it doesn’t always make sense. He consistently delivers fun, excitement, edgy content, and just to change it up, has also offered over the years some great family entertainment with the help of his own kids. So, we decided to employ our top-secret Giant Freakin Algorithm to Rodriguez’s career and take a look at his movies, from best to worst.
If we could publish this in 3-D, we would. These are Robert Rodriguez’s best movies and also his worst.
EL MARIACHI (1992)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.1/10
Number one on the list is Robert Rodriguez’s number one out of the chute. El Mariachi was the first movie in his Mexican trilogy and holds the distinction in the Guinness Book of World Records as the lowest-budgeted film (it cost $7,225 to make) to ever gross $1 million at the box office.
In his directorial debut, Rodriguez’s tale tells of a ruthless criminal named Azul who has broken out of prison to go after a drug lord who put him there. With him, Azul carries a guitar case filled with weapons. Enter the Mariachi, who is in town with his signature guitar in its case. He is looking for work when he is mistaken for Azul. As the four attackers go after him, the Mariachi is forced to kill them. Seeking refuge in a local bar, he then meets Domino, the owner, and falls immediately in love with her. More battles ensue, loads of gunplay, and death.
For the budget, Robert Rodriguez truly outdid himself.
SIN CITY (2005)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.85/10
The stories were great, the look of the movie even better. Robert Rodriguez co-directed this pulpy crime noir along with Frank Miller, who created the comic book series. Sin City combined four different Miller stories into one comic-book looking movie. It had an all-star cast which included Mickey Rourke in his signature comeback role, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, and featured Elijah Wood as Kevin, a cannibalistic serial killer who preys on prostitutes.
To Rodriguez’s credit, he wanted to stay as faithful to Miller’s vision as much as possible. For the most part, did. He loved what Miller had put together with the graphic novels and wished to translate that to film. Success.
SPY KIDS (2001)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.4/10
Spy Kids was Robert Rodriguez’s first venture into the family film market and it was one he took total control of by being the writer, director, producer, and also the editor on what turned out to be a great family film.
It told the story of spies Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez who have two children, both unaware that their parents are spies. The parents are non-active spies until they are called back into action to help find missing agents. When the parents also get captured, the kids realize it is up to them to save their parents. The movie is fun but is also notable for the stars in the movie.
Robert Rodriguez constantly brings along actors he’s used in previous movies or those he’d like to use in future films. In this one, he has Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, as well as Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, and even George Clooney. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
PLANET TERROR (2007)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 7.3/10
This Robert Rodriguez movie was part of the Grindhouse double feature Robert Rodriguez created with director Quentin Tarantino. Rodriguez’s portion was called Planet Terror and it starred Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolin, and Bruce Willis.
The plot is simple, following a group of people trying to survive an attack of zombie-like creatures while also trying to calm their feud with a military unit. Rodriguez gives constant nods to actors or characters from his other movies. Look for Michael Parks to show up as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, a character Parks played in one of Rodriguez’s earlier movies, the amazing From Dusk Til Dawn. Planet Terror is definitely classic Robert Rodriguez with a ton of gore, sex, and humor. Grindhouse movies rock.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 6.95/10
Danny Trejo returns as Machete in another Robert Rodriguez exploitation action movie. Trejo first appeared as Machete in Spy Kids and then in fake movie advertisements during Grindhouse his character was shown to be starring in his own movie. Well, now it can be said Machete does have one.
Machete is a former Federales, who is betrayed by his corrupt Chief and eventually set up for the assassination attempt of a Texas State Senator who is responsible for sending hundreds of illegal immigrants out of the country. What comes next is a good old-fashioned shoot ‘em up, Machete-style.
The Robert Rodriguez movie is Trejo’s first lead in his career and it also brought back Steven Seagal (as the movie’s bad guy) in his first theatrically released film since 2002. Rodriguez brought back Jeff Fahey, Jessica Alba, and Cheech Marin while also convincing Robert DeNiro to come play with the Grindhouse gang.
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 6.8/10
Desperado is the sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi and brings in Antonio Banderas to be his new Mariachi. This is the movie that solidified Banderas as a lead actor. Banderas arrives in town with his guitar case in tow, looking for the drug lord who killed his lover.
It’s a solid Robert Rodriguez shoot out movie steeped in revenge. Desperado brings along Salma Hayek as Banderas’s new lover. Of course, Cheech Marin has a role, as does Quentin Tarantino, who delivers one of the longest and cheesiest jokes in the movie. Even for a Robert Rodriguez movie this one is testosterone-filled. It leads to a third entry in the series.
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 6.7/10
“Algorithm be damned, this is the best of the bunch,” says author. How can it not be? Robert Rodriguez’s vampire movie has George Clooney as a bad guy, Quentin Tarantino as his psychotic brother, and Harvey Keitel as a pastor having a crisis of faith.
Clooney and Tarantino are the Gecko brothers, two bank robbers on the run. They come across Keitel’s Jacob Fuller and his family, daughter Katherine (played by Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu) on their way to a family vacation in a motorhome. The Geckos need safe transportation over the border into Mexico and the Fullers are their ticket. Once they cross the border, the Geckos want to stop at the El Rey to celebrate. Of course, the Fullers are hesitant but nevertheless, go inside. Big mistake.
What happens next is a vampire feast that includes Cheech Marin (again), Danny Trejo, Fred “the Hammer” Williamson, horror make-up legend Tom Savini, John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, Black Christmas), Michael Parks as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, and yes, Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium. It’s campy, it’s gory, it’s fun, it’s a great movie. Check it out.
ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (2019)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 6.7/10
James Cameron brought on Robert Rodriguez to direct Alita, his story set in a post-apocalyptic world that finds Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz) discovering a female cyborg with an intact human brain. With the body destroyed, Ido attaches a new cyborg body to the brain, calling her Alita.
Alita has no memory when she awakens. She befriends a young man named Hugo, who dreams of moving away to the wealthy sky city of Zolem. One night, Ido and Alita are attacked, and Alita defends them with a lost combat art called Panzer-Kunst. From there, battles ensue with Alita entering a Motorball race in attempt to win money that will help Hugo get to Zolem.
The Robert Rodriguez movie was based on Battle Angel Alita, a cyberpunk manga series created by Yukito Kishiro.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (2003)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 6.5/10
The third movie in Robert Rodriguez’s Mexican trilogy saw the return of Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi. It also brought back Salma Hayek in a minor role and introduced Johnny Depp as CIA officer Sheldon Jeffrey Sands.
Sands is on board recruiting El Mariachi to kill corrupt Mexican Army officer General Emiliano Marquez. El Mariachi has a lot of skin in the game as years earlier he and Carolina (Hayek) confronted Marquez and in the shootout, the General was wounded. As payback, the General ambushed Carolina and their daughter, killing both of them.
Once Upon A Time in Mexico follows the same revenge formula and Rodriguez brings back many of his favorite actors including Mickey Rourke, Cheech Marin, and Danny Trejo while also bringing in some newcomers such as Willem Dafoe and Rubén Blades. If you had an appetite for the original El Mariachi and Desperado, this movie will not disappoint.
OTHER ROBERT RODRIGUEZ MOVIES
There are other Robert Rodriguez movies, but the list above is the cream of his crop. His best work. Aside from the top nine we listed he’s known for movies like The Faculty, Spy Kids 2:Island of Lost Dreams, the third and fourth Spy Kids movies, the sequel Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Four Rooms, and even a sequel to Machete in Machete Kills. But of all his movies, there’s one clear entry that’s the absolute worst.
THE WORST ROBERT RODRIGUEZ MOVIE: THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVAGIRL 3-D (2005)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 2.75/10
Yes, Sharkboy and Lavagirl is by far Robert Rodriguez’s worst movie. It earns one of the worst scores ever recorded by the GFM meter.
This Robert Rodriguez movie was based on an idea from one of his kids and it shows. The movie was a total critical failure. To be fair, some fans saw it a bit different, liking the movie which starred Taylor Lautner and Taylor Dooley as the title characters.
Critics hit on the weak story and poor 3-D as main reasons this particular Robert Rodriguez movie was a failure. The family friendly film was made for $50 million but cleared only $39 million in the United States. Which makes this next bit of news confusing. You see, he’s making another one.
THE NEXT ROBERT RODRIGUEZ MOVIE: WE CAN BE HEROES
We Can Be Heroes is Robert Rodriguez’s next project and it will release on Christmas Day on the Netflix streaming service. It’s a direct sequel to The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lavagirl, his lowest rated movie. Taylor Dooley will return as Lavagirl but strangely enough, Taylor Lautner will not be involved with the movie at all. Netflix is taking a pretty big gamble on this one.
The GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE is calculated using rating averages from Rotten Tomatoes and the Internet Movie Database.