Can you Survive the Evil Dead?

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Evil Dead (2013) is the remake/sequel to the popular The Evil Dead (1981).  The Evil Dead spawned two sequels already, and they are thought to have created the genre of horror comedy, but this new movie goes back to the first film and is straight up horror.  This is the first movie in the franchise not to be written and directed by Sam Raimi, but by new comer Fred Alvarez who was hand picked by Raimi.  This movie was OK, but never lives up to the classic series that Raimi created.

The story is that five friends go up to a cabin in the woods to help a drug addict, Mia played by Jane Levy, kick he habit.  The friends agree that they will not let her leave until the worst of the withdrawals have subsided.  When they get in the cabin they soon find that it has been used for something weird.  There are a bunch of dead cats hanging in the basement, and a book wrapped in barbed wire.  Of course one of them reads the book out loud, even though the writing in the book says not too, and releases evil.

I like using the drug addiction as the reason they are up in the woods, because it makes it believable when the first person to see the random evil things happening is the drug addict, and the friends think she is either hallucinating or just trying to get them to let her leave, and Fred Alvarez knows how to shoot a horror scene.  Never flinching is showing the audience something awful, but the problem is that you only should do a remake if there is something add, or something that they couldn’t do before, but that is not the case here.  In The Evil Dead the violence was already ramped up to 11, so ramping it up to 12 wasn’t all that necessary.  The charm of the first movie (if horror movies have charm that is) was the movie was so low budget that it added a campiness to the whole thing.  In Evil Dead the only camp left is that cast makes every dumb choice possible, and they do make dumb choices.

Here are some guidelines for you if you are in a cabin in the woods.  If there are dead cats hanging in the cellar: leave.  If there is a book wrapped in barbed wire and bound in human flesh: do not read it, especially out loud, and if it tells you not to because something will eat your soul.  If something is chasing you, use the open door to the outside not the crack in the wall.

These is some good news though, and that is Sam Raimi has decided to make Army of Darkness II (The Evil Dead IV), and that means more Bruce Campbell Camping it up while killing the undead.  There is also a plan to have Mia and Bruce team up at a future point when they merge the two universes and that sounds like fun too, so if we have to have one OK horror movie for all that to happen, then so be it.

Is Oz Great and Powerful?

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Oz: The Great and Powerful is the prequel to The Wizard Oz, and is directed by Sam Raimi.  It never lives up to the original film, but he still made a pretty decent movie, and if you have seen Raimi’s earlier work then you might notice that this seems a lot like Army of Darkness for kids.

Army of Darkness features a jerk that comes from the future and he saves a kingdom with his knowledge of basic science. Oz: The Great and Powerful features a conman/magician, Oz (James Franco), that goes over the rainbow in a balloon and saves a kingdom with his knowledge of science and theatricality.  He even has some scenes at the end of the film to confirm that he knows they similar too, but unlike his previous movie, Oz learns his lessons and becomes a better man.

You can tell Raimi is having fun with the visuals in this movie.  Since it is a fantasy land he goes over the top with color and the detail, and it looks fantastic.  He also gets to use his horror chops because the flying baboons are quit scary, and he has a few startling scares too.  He also peppers things from the original Oz all over the place so you know it is the same land.

The actors, especially the witches, Mila Kunis (Theodora), Rachel Wiesz (Evanora), and Michelle Williams (Glinda), do a great job, and they are really the stars of this movie, but if you are not a fan of James Franco, then this movie will not change your mind because he is pretty much James Franco.  Oz’s computer animated compatriots, played by Joey King (China Girl) and Zach Braff (Flying Monkey), do a great job of playing the characters sweet and keeping Oz on the straight and narrow.

Raimi did what he could to make a worthy prequel to the classic film, but he falls a little short.  It is still an entertaining film, and since he kept it PG, you can take your whole family, which is a rarity these days.  It does make me want to watch Army of Darkness again though.

Top 10 Movies for 2013

pacific-rim-backgroundAs we move towards movie season 2013, I thought it might be fun to list my top 10 movies that I want to see this year.  Here they are in descending order.

10: World War Z

A movie about a war with Zombies? Count me in, though it has fallen down my list due to a number of script rewrites and people saying that they completely changed the story from the book, but it is still a movie about a war with the undead so it sneaks in at number 10.

9: Ender’s Game

Orson Scott Card’s book finally makes it to the big screen.  If falls to number 9 since I think this is a hard book to convert to a movie with all the internal monolog of Ender, plus they need to find a ton of good child actors.

8: R.I.P.D.

This is a movie about the Rest In Peace Department, a group of dead cops that move people and monsters to the other side.  I am hoping that Jeff Bridges can make Ryan Reynolds tolerable.

7: Thor: The Dark Worlds

A sequel to Thor with the Dark Elves? Yes Please, and Disney/Marvel hasn’t let us down so far.

6: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I loved the books and was caught off guard when the first movie was as good as it was.  I won’t be again, and I hope they keep the quality up.

5: Man of Steel

Zack Snyder (Watchmen and The 300) and Christopher Nolan (Latest Batman Trilogy) reboot Superman.  Warner Bros has a lot ridding on this, and the buzz has been very good.

 4: Iron Man 3

Marvel/Disney continues to make movies I want to watch, and adding Sir Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin sounds amazing.

3: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Here is hoping we get to see Smaug in this movie!  The Hobbit Trilogy rolls on.

2: Star Trek Into Darkness

The first J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie was better then anyone expected, and now the hype is out of control for this second one. Please, Please be good, and oh yeah it has Benedict cumberbatch in it!

1: Pacific Rim

Guillermo Del Toro, Giant Monsters vs. Giant Robots, and Idris Elba!  Plus they beat the crap out of San Francisco.  I can’t wait,  I really need to build that time machine.  I ordered all the parts I just have put it together yet.

So that is my list tell me what you think or even add your own!

Django Unchained: the ‘D’ is Silent!

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Django Unchained is the latest movie from Quentin Tarantino.  It is a blacksploitation/spaghetti western hybrid of sorts, and it has stirred up its share of controversy thanks to its use of the ‘N’ word.  But, is it any good? Yes.

The movie is setup as a group of slaves are being lead through various country landscapes until they are stopped by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who asks to buy Django (Jamie Foxx).  When the slave owners refuse, Schultz pretty much just kills them and takes Django anyway. Sorta but good enough.  Then Schultz who we find out is a bounty hunter then helps Django save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) and exact his revenge on Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his evil Uncle Tom: Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson). Again, sorta, but if you want a detailed plot go to Wikipedia, and now on to the reviewing.

Out of all the Quentin Tarantino movies I have seen, this is probably the most straight forward one.  Unlike most his movies that jump around in time, this one pretty much follows a linear path.  He also seems to have balanced his dialog that he loves so much with enough action to keep you engaged.  However what is the same, is the level of violence and gore in this picture.   There is raspberry flavored corn syrup everywhere in this movie, and I think it is fantastic.

As always Quentin found a good cast for this movie: Leonardo is great as the evil slave owner, and Samuel L. Jackson makes your skin crawl as the head slave.  Christoph Waltz is outstanding again, and it seems like he was born to quip through Tarantino’s famous dialog. Foxx plays the cool Django just right, with all the crazy people around him it is nice to have a cool and calm character as the lead.

This film stirred up quite a controversy thanks to using the ‘N’ word a lot, and it is jarring to hear it so often, and from so many white people, but I think it fits the time and theme of this movie.

I am not sure this is my favorite movie of Tarantino’s, but it is probably the most accessible.  Which is probably why more people liked it, and it is receiving all the accolades.  Django Unchained is a good movie, and I think it is important to throw slavery in all of our faces once and awhile, so that we don’t gloss over the horror of it.  This movie defiantly gets my recommendation.

Cry with Les Miserables

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Les Miserables is the tear jerking update to the classic musical based off the novel with the same name by Victor Hugo.  It is also Tom Hooper’s follow up to his best picture winning King’s Speech, so it is safe to say that this film had some high expectations, and it mostly lives up to them.

Most people know the story by now, but as a refresher:  The movie is about Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) trying to redeem himself for past sins, while taking care of Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) child because he accidently put Fantine on the street, and dodging the unforgiving and obsessed law, Javert (Russell Crowe), and as a spoiler: They are all sad.

Tom Hooper does a great job directing this film.  Every frame is steady and in place, and allowing the actors to record the songs while acting on set gives the film more life, and bridges the gap from to the stage to the screen.  This film is quite a change from the King’s Speech, but he nails it.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are tremendous in this film.  Their previous work in musicals really pays off, and the emotion they carry through song is amazing.  The rest of the cast for the most part are very good as well, with one notable exception.  Russell Crowe almost ruins this film.  He can’t sing, and I am not sure that he is obsessed. He mostly just seems annoyed whenever he sees Jean Valjean like “oh yeah I hate that guy”.  Since everyone else is great it is a shame that they didn’t cast someone better.  I love Russell Crowe and applaud his willingness to try new things, but they should have found someone else.

This is a good movie and one that should be seen, but with a simple casting change it would have been a classic.  Tom Hooper is really proving himself to be one of the great directors and I can’t wait to see what he does next, and I am calling it for Anne Hathaway, she deserves that shiny bald dude.