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Non-Review Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead does has a bit of a quirky charm to it, serving as perhaps the best-made horror throwback I’ve seen in quite some time, much more effective than most of the recent splurge of exorcism movies. As far as competent execution of classic horror movie tropes go, complete with the sense of “something gruesome’s gonna happen” dread and a healthy amount of gore, Evil Dead succeeds admirably. There are some issues in the final act, but Evil Dead checks all the necessary boxes, and does so with a minimum amount of fuss or pretension, which makes it a surprising enjoyable watch for those looking to enjoy a good old-fashioned video nasty.

That said, it can’t help but feel a little awkward, through no fault of its own. Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead was a genre classic which worked in a large part because it eschewed all but the most basic tropes of horror storytelling, refusing to dress a video nasty in anything too fancy. The movie came to embody a particular subgenre of horror, and it wore its grotesqueness on its sleeve. Last year, Cabin in the Woods offered a fitting follow-up, a capstone to that approach to horror. As such, through no fault of its own, this version of Evil Dead feels like it arrived a little late.

Down the rabbit hole...

Down the rabbit hole…

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Non-Review Review: Oz – The Great & Powerful

Oz: The Great & Powerful is a fabulous production. A few minor misgivings aside, it looks and sounds fantastic. Sam Raimi has done the best job bringing Oz to the screen since the original version of The Wizard of Oz all those decades ago. In its best moments, there’s an enthusiasm and a lightness of touch that fits the material perfectly and captures the wonder that we associate with Oz. It’s very clear that a lot of love and care was put into the production design of the film, and that Sam Raimi’s hand moved with the utmost consideration and affection for the original film. It makes it a little disappointing, then, that the script to Oz: The Great & Powerful should feel so undercooked, more like an early draft than a finished screenplay.

Up in the air or down to earth?

Up in the air or down to earth?

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Non-Review Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man is a jumble of clever ingredients thrown into a pot, stirred for two hours and yet never managing to produce that ideal flavour. There are moments in Marc Webb’s adaptation that are fantastic, as good as anything Raimi brought to the best of his films in the series, Spider-Man II. However, there’s also simply too much going on here for its own good. Running for two-hours-and-a-quarter, the film feels like one-part origin to two-part stand-alone adventure, unsure whether it should it is trying to rush through the motions of one of the most iconic origin stories ever told or if it’s trying to bring something a bit deeper to the table. When it gets going, it’s a solidly entertaining piece of film that does try to do something just a little new with the superhero formula, but it suffers from the same identity crisis as its lead and struggles to really find its own voice.

Peter’s not quite on top on the world…

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Non-Review Review: Darkman

This is a post as part of “Raimi-fest”, the event being organised by the always wonderful Bryce over at Things That Don’t Suck.

Spider-Man wasn’t Sam Raimi’s first foray into the world of superheroes. Darkman stands as one of the very few earnest superheroes created originally in the medium of film (as opposed to being adapted from comic books or other pulp fiction), and it’s certainly an interesting and entertaining feature. Going on to produce two direct-to-video sequels, some books, some comic books and even a computer game, the character is the very definition of “cult.”

The real Dark Knight?

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Non-Review Review: Spider-Man II

This is a post as part of “Raimi-fest”, the event being organised by the always wonderful Bryce over at Things That Don’t Suck.

Aside from Nolan’s two superb Batman movies, Spider-Man II was the only other comic book superhero movie to make my top fifty films of the last decade. There’s a reason for that. Part of it is the fact that the movie helped define what the second film in a superhero franchise should really look like, but a larger part of it is that this film represents the moment at which Sam Raimi seemed most at home with his beloved central character – and I think that genuine enthusiasm on the part of the director really shines through over the course of the film.

I reckon Spider-Man polls highly among superhero fans...

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