Halloween Marathon: Army of Darkness (1992)

Time sure flies by! Not to mention that this post is super behind. We are at the second last movie of the main features. To be fair, I didn’t really review a ton of movie like I used to and stuck to the main ones, mostly because I had some TV stuff and books and all that fun variety that you know you can get if you drop by here. Army of Darkness is the third film in the Evil Dead franchise. So far, its getting better just between the first and second one. I know some of you disagree with me and have a lot of love for the original. That is okay. I can understand nostalgia and all that lovely stuff. A few of you also told me that Army of Darkness is going to be a fun trip. And I believe you all because Evil Dead 2 was quite a nice balance and you all assured me of that as well.

Let’s check it out!

Army of Darkness (1992)

Army of Darkness

Director and co-writer: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Grove

A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home. – IMDB

 Army of Darkness is a turn in the franchise to something a lot more comedic than the previous two. Evil Dead 2 already started a little in the later bits of building up Bruce Campbell’s character, Ash and in this one, we see it much larger than life. Ash is thrown back into time. Funny enough that Evil Dead 2 ends with them cheering that they saved him but in this one, they chain him up and tow him off on a death sentence (pretty much) in suspicion of being part of the enemies. As clueless as always, Ash actually is pretty much fed up with all this nonsense with the Necronomicon and all these monsters it has unleashed and really just wants to get home. Army of Darkness sets up a great stage in mixing his future self into the 1300 A.D. I have to admit that I’m a sucker for movies that pull this trick of someone in the future falling into the past and all the adaptation of just the expressions and confusion of the modern stuff like his gun (aka his boomstick, for example) make it really entertaining.

Army of Darkness

My main issue with the first and half of the second is the character of Ash. However, he does shine in the third. He becomes rather different from how he was and that is great character development that needed to happen. In Army of Darkness, he becomes somewhat of a new hope eventually, after an obstacle or two. He becomes a tad caught up in this luxury he has gotten before having to jump back and man, those expressions and one liners just give his character a ton of fun charisma. Some things don’t always make sense in the scenario because if it was someone in 1300 AD, they may have taken whatever literally and not  understood but still, those moments are also funny. There is somewhat of a fun twist here rather than making it very scary and that is great.

Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness has a much  better pacing. Its fun and more lighthearted take makes a big difference here. There are still demonic monsters and some cute skeletons but in the end, it all adds up to an entertaining experience. Not only that, there are a few familiar faces. The one that I recognized right away was Embeth Davidtz who plays the lady here. Army of Darkness is a ton of fun. It is definitely the one that I would most probably go back and watch out of the trilogy. What has built to this one has been a rather grueling experience. It was different from what I had expected, both the good and the bad.

Have you seen Army of Darkness? Did you like it?

We are not quite done yet. There is still the 2013 remake of Evil Dead to visit.
That will be the finale of this month’s marathon on Halloween (aka Monday). 

Halloween Marathon: Evil Dead 2 (1987)

We are back to continue the Halloween Marathon’s second featured franchise. It is time to give Evil Dead 2 a go. After the less than enthusiastic feeling I had about the first one, I can’t say I am too excited but I need to be objective and let’s just say, it cannot be any worse in the character development for Ash, right? Plus, my incredible Game Warp Podcast cohost (also MBDS podcast host) assures me that the second one is better. I trust him and his movie preferences so let us move on and get this started!

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Evil dead 2

Director and co-writer: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Ted Raimi

The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.-IMDB

Evil Dead 2 is no doubt better than the first one. One of the main pros of this movie is that it embraces its campiness and takes us for a more comedic ride which yields more laughs while still having some good creepy horror. It does start a little slow and the beginning seems to want to connect the previous movie by somewhat rehashing it a tad and getting us caught up if we didn’t see it before. That is a good move. Bruce Campbell’s character also takes a while to build. For a a little bit of the movie in the beginning, he still drove me a little crazy with his indecisiveness and sentimentality however, the development of his character is embraced much better to resemble a rather memorable character with some extra fun moments. Evil Dead 2 is very similar to the first movie however, it improves on the bits I didn’t quite like about the first one so that is a plus.

Evil Dead 2

Evil Dead 2 is definitely going in the right direction. I had some doubt as the movie started and I was trying to figure out whether it was really a continuation or whatnot. By the time, we knew that Evil Dead 2 was heading into an odd and quirky route especially as we watched Ash go a little nuts with the evil spirits. As we watch him slowly spiral downwards, we also see a development in his character whether it is his more frequent one-liners and his silly and over-exaggerated expressions and then transforming into a bad ass. This is where we know that it is going to start being a fun ride. Plus, the characters in this one get a little more screen time so they have a little more time to have some meaning to them although none of them really mean anything to particularly Ash when two are here in relation to the man who essentially released the evil spirits or at least initiated it and two others was just there for the ride and earning some extra money but ended up getting stuck. However, even the cast in this one carries a much better tone in the way they are than the original.

Evil Dead 2

Evil Dead 2 has one thing that a lot of movies has and you know, a similar flaw was apparent in the first movie and that is lack of logic in some parts. It is much better in terms of having characters that are smarter but in contrast there are also ones that are incredibly stupid as well. Just saying that if one of the characters freak out about needing to find someone in the woods, in the place of Ash, I would have recounted everything that happened to his friends and then his hand and so on so forth. One of these facts has got to be convincing enough. But, I stand behind Ash in this one because he also demonstrates a lot of common sense and logic near the end especially when trying to end this once and for all.

Evil Dead 2

Overall, Evil Dead 2 improves on the original a lot. There is a very good balance of odd, creepy and funny. In many ways, it embraces its campiness much better. I have my questions on certain parts. Most importantly, I’m starting to see Ash in a much better light. Perhaps he is not the iconic character yet but his character has developed a lot in this one and has turned into one that I can get behind.

With that said, I do look forward to seeing how things unfold in Army of Darkness and I am hoping  (after many people have told me) that it will be an absolute blast.

Have you seen Evil Dead 2?
Come back next week for the review of Army of Darkness! 🙂

Halloween Marathon: Evil Dead (1981)

Its a new week and we are right on schedule with the second featured franchise, Evil Dead. I only know of this franchise and not much else so Evil Dead is completely new to me from start to finish. The only thing I might know a little bit of is the main dude is an iconic character. See, vague as heck in my mind but its okay, that is why these featured franchises end up here, right? I need to discover what all the hype is about!

Lets check it out!

Evil Dead (1981)

Evil Dead

Director and writer: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly

Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.-IMDB

I’m going to be downright honest right here and not even bother to sugarcoat it. A lot of you might disagree with me or just think I’m crazy but I did not like Evil Dead. I’ll explain it and I’ll even tell you what I think works, particularly referring to the premise and designing the set with a seemingly low budget (because 80s movies tend to be in that situation). Evil Dead is kind of like the model of cabin in the woods movies and the characters themselves seem to be exactly what it is about. Maybe it is what started the whole trend. The atmosphere and the design, despite its low budget and campy and dated effects, all work well enough. I know what I’m in for when I start up a 80s movie so I don’t criticize it on that. I even took a few days to settle my thoughts a little on this one before doing the write-up.

Evil Dead

Evil Dead has some pretty poor characters and it is paired up with the really slow pace movie that took forever to take off just didn’t work for me. Let us put the slow pace aspect aside because when it does pick up, there are some incredibly effective getting under your skin creeps, particularly when the possession starts and things start getting serious. After thinking about it a little more, the main issue of Evil Dead is that for what it accomplishes in reality, it takes itself a little too seriously. Its a shame because it sets up quite the mood right from the beginning as they build up the tension of getting into the house and the camera making it always look like someone is observing them. Those parts are pretty impressive to watch even if the swinging chair is hitting the house and stops suddenly and we already know it would or sounds come out of the woods and we know that something is out there, for example.

Evil Dead

What Evil Dead does most poorly is the characters. The first girl, Shelley heads outside with a sound she hears outside. Logically, who would do that? Just walk out into the woods which is in the middle of nowhere and not tell one other person in the house? Fast forward even to after the first possession happens and there is somewhat an idea that a danger has happened and they have heard the tapes and realize that body dismemberment is the only way to stop these attacks at least for a moment. The other characters aren’t quite the focus and we already know that because a lot of camera time is placed the so-called iconic character, Ash, played by Bruce Campbell. Ash is a frustrating character to no ends because he is somewhat of a sentimental fool who would be that perfect man you’d want to see in a romantic comedy but not in a life-threatening situation. He has a heart and that is fine. But after all that has happened, he can’t put his heart to stop the madness that has possessed his friends and that is pure ridiculousness. Perhaps, it gives his character some reality but it was hard to get behind his decisions that would inevitably stretch out the movie with yet another  horror sequence.

Evil Dead

Talking about horror sequences, nothing quite beats the laughing lady which is incredibly annoying and creepy all at the same time. There is one scene that creates a lot of uneasiness and it also created a lot of frustration because Ash could not do what he should to stop it all and falls for the tricks of the demons, in a way, or just his sentimentality takes over him too much. Whatever it is, it was at that moment that I just had enough of the character and wanted him to stop. It also is the moment when I started to wonder what made him so iconic.

Overall, Evil Dead is effective in its own slow pace horror despite its campy and outdated effects. There are some good horror sequences that cause a great deal of uneasiness however, the characters here leaves much to be desired, especially that of Ash who makes me wonder what gave him enough to be the iconic character of this franchise. Hopefully, the sequel will answer that question and give him a much braver and more courageous character.

Have you seen Evil Dead?

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)

I’m super happy that I got to watch this opening weekend.  I rarely ever do that because my boyfriend and I aren’t crazy about crowds.  However, we both wanted a little date night at the theatres since the last movie we saw was Les Miserables on New Year’s Eve.

oz posterDirector: Sam Raimi

Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King

In 1905, an ambitious yet unsuccessful magician, Oz (James Franco) finds himself carried into a tornado and landing into the enchanted land of Oz.  There he meets Theodora (Mila Kunis) who is convinced that he’s the wizard mentioned in the King’s prophecy to save Oz from the powers of the wicked witch.  She then takes him to meet her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who is taking care of the kingdom while there is no one on the throne.  Evanora shows Oz the benefits he would reap if he were to become the King after he’s proved himself as the wizard.  The one thing he would have to do is to destroy the wand of the wicked witch residing in the Dark Forest, Glinda (Michelle Williams).  On his adventures, he takes on a flying monkey Finley (voice by Zach Braff) and saves a little China doll in China Town (Joey King), who ends up joining him in the quests to prove his greatness, they get whirled into the problems of the land of Oz and he needs to not only figure out who to believe, who is good and evil but also how he chooses to become: good or great

I’ve been anticipating this movie a lot and I haven’t actually seen any of the trailers.  Its just I’m into the Wizard of Oz story and the cast seemed fantastic.  The CGI fantasy world looks so beautiful in the poster.  I watched this in 3D because the normal version had ridiculous hours where my boyfriend was still at work.  It was worth it even with a stupid ticket issue before the movie at the theatres.

oz black and white

One of the best part of the movie was its visuals.  It started in the 1905 real normal world in black and white. Everything was black and white till he got spun around literally and whisked into the enchanted world. Let me say that the landing sequence in 3D was super awesome and fun.  If you saw it, you know what I mean. It was a pretty rough landing but it was just beautiful to look at as well.  It gave the audience (and Oz) a general view of everything around him and when he got out, he got to see the enchanted world around him.  The vibrant colors they used and it had this slight cartoon-ish touch to it that reassured us of the magical world around us.  I really  loved it a lot!

oz scenery

Next, I loved the cast.  James Franco was amazing and he really shone as the lead.  I haven’t seen a great amount of him doing comedies.  I’ve seen him in drama (127 Hours) and action (Spiderman).  However, I felt he fit right into the role and brought out all the charisma that he needed.  Man, did he kiss a lot of girls in this movie! And he had a lot of funny moments as well!

ozAs much as Oz was a great part of this, the conflict between the three witches were a huge chunk as well.  Lets start with the order they appeared.  Mila Kunis as Theodora was gorgeous.  Its probably one of the best roles I’ve seen her in and she looked really pretty.  She took on an innocent believer, just the type that Oz would prey on to help him and her love ended up changing her into the total opposite of the spectrum.  She did it really good. Rachel Weisz played Theodora’s sister Evanora, a manipulative witch that holds a lot of hidden secrets.  Prior to this, I’ve only seen Weisz in The Lovely Bones and I don’t really remember much of it.  She is a very charming woman as well.  She portrayed really well the elegant yet manipulative and slightly evil role she was given.  Her expressions and tone of voice was spot on.

oz witches

Last we have Glinda played by Michelle Wiliams. I haven’t known this actress before however she played the sweet and soft but had strong will and inner strength.  She was convincing not only with how she represented that character but she had a very wonderful smile to match it. I think for all the 3 witches, they did cast the right women.  Charming, pretty and elegant embodied each of them. Many times where the witches were involved, it was the most intense and dramatic moments in the movie.

oz witch

The comic relief in this movie other than Oz himself had to be the addition of his flying monkey, Finley.  I don’t watch Scrubs personally and I’m not really familiar with Zach Braff but his dialogue and facial expressions that they gave for this animated character was just hilarious.  He was my boyfriend’s favorite part of the movie, I think.  Aside from that, another character worth mentioning was the Chinadoll that was rescued from China Town.  I love the name, a twist on what we know as Chinatown 😉 That little girl was super awesome. The detail in the character and the voice was done by Joey King.  It showed perfectly at times, how she was fragile but courageous at the same time. Very well depicted characters!

oz china doll

 

I could go on and on about this.  I love this movie and its a great choice for seeing in theatres.  The CGI, the characters, and the whole animation was gorgeous and well-portrayed.  The story itself had a twist from the Wizard of Oz story that we know.  It wasn’t too dramatic or tense and had a balance of fun and comedic moments, which makes it highly enjoyable!