‘Evil Dead’ Review

evil_dead

Dir: Fede Alvarez (short film Panic Attack)

Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore

Synopsis: Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival

Before I get into the review I want to get this out. Please try to see this with a neutral mindset. Yes, it is a remake/reboot of Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead film. I know the “hardcore fans” have been down talking the movie, which is fair since most remakes/reboots don’t tend to be all that good, but if you try to at least put aside what made Raimi’s Evil Dead great and know this is not trying to be that but it’s own thing then you will enjoy it, trust me. Last bit, if you seen the trailers then you know what you’re walking into somewhat so please don’t complain like A LOT of people are doing AND the movie is produced by Sami Raimi and Bruce Campbell so it’s not like they did to cash on the name and make more money. Alright onward to the review.

The beginning of the movie really kicks things off and pretty much lays out how the rest of the movie will go tone and horror wise with characters that we won’t see for the rest of the movie. From there we are introduced to our characters that are there to help one of their friends, Mia (Levy) who has a drug problem. Among the friends are Eric (Pucci), Olivia (Lucas), Natalie (Blackmore) and her estranged brother David (Fernandez).

While Mia is confronting her own horrors of withdrawal, her friends find the cellar filled with some very unpleasant things but also find a mysterious book which is in a trash bag wrapped in barbed wire (which really should be a sign). While the group deals with Mia’s withdrawal symptoms, Eric is fascinated by the idea of the book and of course reads from it despite the warnings. Once he reads it we see the familiar “demon POV speeding through the woods” shot and from this point is when start to see the Evil Dead we know, or at least some of it.

The evil, if that’s what you want to call, does all that it can make sure that no one leaves the cabin and of course starts to posses and kill the people in the cabin. The movie does have a similar structure to Raimi’s and embraces them with sounds, imagery and even some dialogue. If you are said hardcore fan I’m sure you can even find some “Easter eggs/homage” in the background. It even plays with the audience a bit knowing that they are looking for things or even specific scenes from the original to be in there.

Obviously I don’t want to give too much away but needless to say this movie is almost different and similar to the original. The movie does focus a bit more on the characters like Mia, Lou Taylor Pucci’s Eric and David. But let’s face it, the read star of the movie is the horror and boy there is a good chuck of it. The movie hardly gives you a break from the horror and the tremendous amount of blood (apparently there was over 50,000 gallons used in the movie!). The gore might throw some people off and it is definitely cringe worthy most of time, although you can also thank the movie for using practical effects over CG for the majority of the movie. 

The movie does lose some momentum at times especially nearing the movies last act but that last act really reels you back in and dare I almost makes the movie. Director Fede Alvarez does a great job of creating his own story and themes but also while keeping the essence of what made Raimi’s movie a favorite almost fans.

All in all, Evil Dead is a cringe-worthy bloody good time that I think hardcore fans can enjoy if they accept the fact that this is not trying to replace Raimi’s version but its trying to be a part of it. The movie does turn the creepy factor on high and if you like gallons of blood this is the movie for you. Also, if you like, stay after the credits for something small.

Evil Dead

4.5 out of 5

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“Oz the Great and Powerful” Review

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Dir: Sam Raimi

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

Synopsis: A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.

 

*Reviewer Note: This review, like all my other reviews, will be spoiler free and will NOT compare this movie to The Wizard of Oz (only a bit but huge like some other review out there). Also, I did not see this in 3D but I hear the 3D is great*

 

“I don’t want to be a good man… I want to be a great one” – Oz

 

This is essentially the journey we take with our main character Oscar “Oz” Diggs (Franco) as he lands in “The Land of Oz.” The movie itself acts a as a prequel to L. Frank Baum’s original story of The Wizard of Oz and follows Oz who is a pretty much selfish, womanizing and ego driven small town magician in a traveling circus who dreams of being that great man. Oz eventually lands in The Land of Oz after getting caught in a tornado and meets Theodora (Kunis).

Once there he finds out that there is a legend of a great wizard that will get rid of the wicked witch that is causing chaos and destruction all over the land. Oz goes along with it when he finds out that it comes with a nice reward of a room full of gold and being named king. Even though Theodora believes in him her sister, Evanora (Weisz), isn’t so impressed and to prove that he is the great wizard they have been waiting for she sends him to the Dark Forrest to get rid of the Wicked Witch.

On his journey he has companions in Finley the Flying Monkey (voiced by Braff), who is pretty much the comic relief on the group and also delivers his line with some charm. Then there is little China Girl (voice by King), made of porcelain, and is found by Finley and Oz in a destroyed city and looks to be the last of her kind. She’s probably going to be some people’s favorite characters with her witty-ness, charming, and tough attitude.

Then they encounter Glinda the good (Williams) and from there the movie changes in some tone and performances. I know that sounds vague but I don’t want to give too much away, especially if you’re not familiar with The Wizard of Oz (which really? The movie came out in 1939 COME ON) or Baum’s story.

Now let’s get performances shall we. Franco as the lead is good to a point. You can tell he’s having fun with the role and plays the character in a way like he’s always performing on a stage. As the movie progress he does change a bit but never in the way that hurts the film. Williams as Glinda is very calm and never really changes her attitude from the moment that we see her. Kunis is the interesting choice all of them, her performance may come off as “off putting” at times but other times it seems like some she could fit in the 30’s or 40’s era films. Then there’s the always reliable Rachel Weisz who like Franco looks to be having fun with her role and you’re almost kind of drawn to her when he’s on screen.

Now, I know people are going to try to find things that allude to The Wizard of Oz and it’s not a bad thing. There is quiet a lot of references and allusion to the Wizard of Oz,  then again it is a prequel, that aren’t always in your face. You kind have to look for them in the background or listen to the characters (or watch for similarities of some). For example the movie starts in a black and white frame like the original and then the frame expands with color once we get to Oz and even the famous “Yellow Brick Road.”

However, the biggest thing in this movie is “the land of Oz” itself. The effects in the movie are really beautiful to look at and stunning that make the landscape just a part of the movie as much as the characters. Sometimes the landscape saves the movie or at least improves the scenes.

Oz the Great and Powerful is pretty much a family film in the classic sense of the word. It is filled with big, colorful effects, lovable characters (what’s more lovable about a flying monkey that can talk and cracks jokes right?) and humor. But, it doesn’t mean adults or older audience won’t like the movie either. There are some “horror” moments that could be a little freighting for young viewers but will be nice for Raimi fans.

All in all, Sam Raimi does a pretty good job of bringing us back to the Land of Oz but the movie does slow down at times which kills the momentum just a bit. Will all fans be happy with the final product? Who knows but it’s still a pretty fun movie with action, thrills and humor.

Oz the Great and Powerful

3.5 out of 5