Movie Review: Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Going a bit more old school with today’s Month of Spooks entry. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Evil Dead 2”.

After being the only survivor of an attack by a demonic force, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) runs into some strangers. And he has to team up with them to try to survive an absolute fucking onslaught of demons. So now we have our sequel/soft reboot. And fuck me, it’s good. Sure, the plot doesn’t do anything too major in terms of advancing storytelling techniques, but it instead presents some basic ideas and executes them in a way that is both scary and overall really entertaining. It manages to both be suspenseful horror and campy, fun popcorn entertainment.

The characters in this are colorful and entertaining. Bruce Campbell plays Ash Williams, sole survivor and overall main protagonist. He goes through a bit of a surprising arc here, which involves his psyche kinda getting broken by all the batshit insane/horrific things happening to him, and I really found myself caring for him. And Campbell is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, and Ted Raimi, and they all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Joseph LoDuca, and it was good. Like the story, it kind of mixes more suspenseful pieces with more fun, slightly campy tracks, and this blend makes for an enjoyable score that fits the overall mood of the movie. Yeah. Not much else to say there.

“Evil Dead 2” was written by Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel, with Raimi handling direction. And Raimi has such a good grasp of how to create a compelling atmosphere, right from scene one I was invested in what was going on, thanks to Raimi’s direction, which manages to create slowly seeping chills while still being highly energetic and fun. I mean, his direction is largely why the first 25-ish minutes genuinely scared me. I also have to give a lot of cred to the team that created the various effects throughout the movie, because they were fucking spectacular. Puppets, makeup, prosthetics, stop motion, liquids… it all looks great, and adds so much to the experience. What is also interesting is that there’s a decent amount of comedy throughout this movie, and that all of it is quite funny, and luckily never clashes with the more horrific elements of the movie.

This movie has been generally well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Evil Dead 2” is an absolute blast. It has a really solid plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great writing/directing, fantastic practical effects, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Evil Dead 2” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Evil Dead 2” is now completed.

Groovy.

Movie Review: Candyman (1992)

Time for some more spookums for the Month of Spooks. So let’s stop standing around and get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Candyman”.

Grad student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is working on a thesis about a local spooky legend known as the Candyman (Tony Todd). And as she investigates this legend, she soon comes face-to-face with the titular myth. So now we have a psychological thriller/procedural. And I’m gonna be frank with you guys, I really liked the story told here. For something that can be technically considered a slasher, there’s a surprising amount of nuance to the story, putting doubt in your mind about certain story elements, making the viewer feel uneasy about the things going on. Despite a relatively short runtime, it took its time to tell this chilling and surprisingly nuanced narrative. That’s not to say that there aren’t thrills, ’cause there are. But the story here isn’t just some thinly veiled excuse for gory slicing and dicing a la Jason Voorhees. The story here has an actual purpose, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The characters in this are, like the story, surprisingly nuanced and engaging. Virginia Madsen plays Helen, the grad student investigating the local legend. She’s a bit of a skeptic, so when she starts coming face-to-face with some of the strange things she doesn’t fully believe in, she starts going through a bit of a fascinating arc. And Madsen is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tony Todd as the titular legend. I won’t go into too much detail in case you haven’t seen it but want to. But let’s just say that he’s one of the more intriguing horror antagonists out there. And Todd is great in the role (and what a cool voice he has!). We also get supporting work from people like Xavier Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons, DeJuan Guy, Vanessa Williams, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for “Candyman” was composed by Philip Glass, and I think it’s pretty spectacular. Sure, the opening track has some minor things that I’m not a huge fan of. But other than that, this score is wonderful. It’s eerie, yet mournful. Haunting, yet sad. Like with the things we talked about earlier, there’s a surprising amount of nuance to it, and especially with the main theme, which is one of the most stunning that I’ve ever heard.

Loosely based on a short story by Clive Barker, the movie was written and directed by Bernard Rose. And I think he did a great job with it. Yes, there are jump scares, and yes there is gore. But he still has a direction that generally relies more on a subtle creep-factor rather than constant thrills, which adds to the overall experience. There’s even a lot of fun camerawork throughout, which helps add a bit of extra energy to proceedings, and not just have it be a slightly boring, static shot of something happening.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 74% positive rating. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

I was pleasantly surprised by “Candyman”, it’s a surprisingly nuanced little horror movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Candyman” is a 9,78/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Candyman” is now completed.

Wait, how many times did I say his name in this review? 1, 2, 3, 4, fuck.

Movie Review: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

And so we come to the end of this review series on the Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies. It’s been fun revisiting this franchise. So let’s talk about the final part!

Ladies and gents… “Spider-Man 3”.

Peter (Tobey Maguire) seems to finally have his life under control. But that soon takes a dark turn when a mysterious space goop enters his life and changes his for the worse. All the while a super-powered petty criminal (Thomas Haden Church) roams the city after having escaped from prison. ALL THE WHILE Peter finds himself in some love triangle drama with Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). ALL THE WHILE his- fuck this. Just… fuck it. There are elements in the plot that are good. But overall, it’s a god damn mess. It has more threads than a spider web, and they are all (for the most part) paper thin. Like I said, there are some nice parts here too, some finely handled dramatic/emotionally charged bits. But they all find themselves tangled up in this scatterbrained web.

The characters here are mixed. Some are nuanced and interesting, and some are Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. The returning core cast of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco are all great in their roles, and do wonders with the material they’re given (which sometimes isn’t great). Rosemary Harris as Aunt May is still the warm, comforting presence she’s always been. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is still an absolute blast to watch. As for new blood, there’s Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman. He’s given a surprising amount of development, and gives a really solid performance. And then we have the aforementioned Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. Look, Grace is not a bad actor, and he actually does a good job playing an absolute slimeball here… but he feels miscast for the character of Eddie Brock. And the stuff they do with the character here… just, no. Overall, decent cast.

Unlike the first two movies, the score in this one wasn’t composed by Danny Elfman. Instead, musical duties were handed over to Christopher Young, who I think did a great job. He incorporates Elfman’s iconic theme wonderfully, while still bringing his own flair to a lot of the other tracks. There are some emotionally charged pieces here that really work well within the movie.

As we’ve pointed out already, “Spider-Man 3” was, like its predecessors directed by Sam Raimi, who I think mostly did a great job here. I say mostly, because compared to the other two, there’s a lot more leaning on CGI for various things in this one. Which also makes some bits look a bit wonky, especially a chase scene early on in the movie. There is cool stuff to it, but overall the green screen effect looks kinda unfinished. And there are a few CGI humans in this movie, and they were a bit distracting. But with all that said, whenever it doesn’t use shit effects, it looks good. The action scenes in this are generally great, with one fight scene some ways into the movie being one of my favorite parts of it.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 59/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,2/10.

So while “Spider-Man 3” is a bit of a let-down compared to the first two, it’s still an enjoyable superhero movie. It has a messy plot with good moments, mostly good characters, really good performances, great music, and good directing/action with only a few wonky effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Spider-Man 3” is a 6,95/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Spider-Man 3” is now completed.

Bit a downer to end this series on. C’est la vie, je suppose.

Movie Review: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

And so my series of reviews of Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” movies continues!

Ladies and gents… “Spider-Man 2”.

As Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) tries to balance college, work, and being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, he runs into even more trouble when scientist Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) becomes the villainous Doc Ock. So now we have our sequel. It’s bigger, but does that make it better? Yes, very much so. It has a lot of themes to balance, and it manages to do that beautifully. At times it’s fun, at times it breaks the viewer’s heart, at times it’s uplifting. It takes all its various themes and creates a web (HA!) that is a perfect representation of Spider-Man and his adventures.

The characters are colorful, flawed, layered, fun, and overall just really interesting. Tobey Maguire reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Seeing his development throughout here is fascinating. Yes, you do get a lot of the charming awkwardness seen in the first movie, but you also get to see a lot of new sides to him that came forward after the events of the first movie, and from things that happen here. And Maguire is great in the role. Alfred Molina plays Otto Octavius, the brilliant scientist who becomes the villain of the story. He’s under constant conflict with himself throughout, making him quite a compelling character. And Molina is great in the role. Kirsten Dunst returns as Mary-Jane Watson, and she gets some decent development throughout. And Dunst is good in the role. James Franco returns as Harry Osborne, who also has some interesting character drama going on, with Franco giving a great performance. We also get supporting work from people like Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons (still the best), Bill Nunn, Dylan Baker, Daniel Gillies, Donna Murphy, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first movie, the score was composed by Danny Elfman, and he somehow managed to one-up himself. The score here of course brings back a lot of the sweeping heroics of the first, while also adding in a lot of nice little touches that makes it stand out. Really, it’s amazing, one of the best scores of the time. And there’s the odd licensed track used throughout that works quite well too.

As with the first movie (and as mentioned in the opening of this review), this movie was directed by Sam Raimi, who (like Elfman) upped his game. His camptastic sense of energy makes a triumphant return, which makes it electrifying to watch, even in the “slower” scenes. It also adds a lot to the action scenes, which are a blast to watch, thanks to the energetic, visceral feel that Raimi gives to them. There’s one scene in particular that really encapsulates that, and if you’ve seen this movie, then you probably know which one I’m talking about. And to bring up something I mentioned in my previous “Spider-Man” review, the effects in this still hold up. The last one had a lot of rough stuff, but the ones in this one… still so good.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Visual Effects. It also got an additional 2 nominations in the categories of Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

“Spider-Man 2” is a sequel that takes everything that was good about the first one, and improves on it significantly. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action/effects. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Spider-Man 2” is a 9,89/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Spider-Man 2” is now completed.

Here’s a fun anecdote: As I was (re)watching this, I realized that I actually hadn’t seen this one before. My mind had tricked me into thinking that I had seen it before, when I hadn’t. It’s quite interesting.