Archive for May, 2018

Candyman

Posted: May 30, 2018 in Movies
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Candyman is one of the scariest films the 90’s gave to horror fans. I saw this movie when I was way too young and it scared the crap out of me. Anyone else remeber the trailers on TV with the hook hand shooting out of the mirror? I was traumed and could not wait to see the film. The plot centres on a urban legend. If you look into a mirror and say “Candyman” five times he will appear before you and he will slaughter you with his hook for a hand. How horrible is that?

The film is directed by Bernard Rose (he also made the freaky Paperhouse) and stars Tony Todd (Hatchet) as the Candyman and Virgina Madsen (Sideways) as his would be victim Helen. Candyman is based on the short story “The Forbidden” by my local author Clive Barker. That short story is based in Liverpool, a city in the UK with a large mixed race community and full of high rise social housing. The move to the USA for the movie is almost seamless because the themes of race, class and the language of urban myths is universal. Even the asthetics of the film would not look out of place in Liverpool. I know why the setting was changed to the U.S. (more box office appeal) and I still love it but I think it would have been just as cool to set the film in Liverpool.

Anyway, I’m rambling big time. Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen are excellent in their roles and the two actors have great chemistry and that is important because in some twisted way Candyman is a love story. A horrific love story, drenched in blood, terror and the stuff of nightmares. Don’t misunderstand me, Candyman, despite having a tragic origin, is an outright killer and wants Helen dead. Helen, a recent graduate, unwittingly summons Candyman while conducting research for her thesis. She’s a great character because she’s not clean cut. Helen will stop at nothing to “bury” her peers. Putting herself and others in danger in order to offer up THE paper on urban legends. The motto of the story is surely one must be careful what they seek least it seek them out in return.

Race plays a big part in the film and it is handled well. Highlighting the race and class injustice that is still, sadly, evident in America over two decades after the release of this movie. The score for the movie is boss. It has this haunting quality to it that is both beautiful and errie. Rose does a great job with the scares and the tension, every fright is done to perfection and nothing feels like a cheat. This is a mature horror film that knows exactly what it is and embraces its horror roots. To this day Candyman has one of the best build ups in horror. It’s not a slow starter but it’s in no rush to get to the gore and the true horror.

Most of you will have seen this excellent horror. I don’t think I am going over the top when I say this is one of the best horror films to come out of the 1990s. It is one of my favourite horror movies of all time and in my eyes a classic. See this or revisit it if it has been some time since you last saw it. Not only does it hold up it’s totally re-watchable. Never loosing it’s bite. The sequels? I can hardly remeber the second one and ain’t ever seen the third. Stick with this and prepare yourself…especially for that ending.

 

 

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I love Star Wars. Ain’t no surprise. But even I was sceptical about a Han Solo stand alone movie. An origin story! Sometimes it is what you do not know about a character which makes them so interesting. I felt his history was best left as just that. I knew I would see Solo: A Star Wars Story but it wasn’t a film I held an enthusiastic interest in. During the production of the movie word came out the original directors had been let go late into filming and Ron Howard had been brought in to right the ship. You know what? None of that is important. What matters, this should always be the case, is what you think of the film when you sit down to watch it. The behind the scenes drama should remain just that. I’m just as guilty as many fans in how I got caught up in the behind the scenes issues that hit this movie. Lesson learned. Solo: A Star Wars Story is not good, no, this is a great Star Wars movie.

This section won’t be long ’cause I’m discussing the plot. ‘K so basically it’s a Han Solo tale that shows where he came from and (some) of what shaped him into the guy we know and love from A New Hope. There’s gangsters, aliens, thieves, space ships, shoot outs, chase scenes, humor, action, new worlds, surprises, set ups and pay offs. I knew very little about Solo. Even the trailers do a fantastic job of showing a lot of the same stuff so when you see it you realise just how much stuff the marketing kept hidden and I love that. I wish more films would follow suit in the run up to release.

The film works because it is fun. Listen to this, right, this movie manages to EXPAND the universe in ways fans have always wanted to see. Yes it happens to feature a few legacy characters but on the whole this entry into the Star Wars universe shines a light on corners of the galaxy fans have yet to see on film. Don’t worry though. I will not be discussing any of those elements because each fan should get to go on this ride knowing as little as possible. I think I can say that for the big fans of the universe who have read the books, comics and played some of the video games those fans will be delighted with how deep Solo goes into the mythology of the saga. Some stuff went over my head but other nods to the bigger galaxy out there I got and I was just grinning ear to ear. Star Wars legend Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan did the script so the fact the story is as good as it is should not have been a surprise.

The direction is great. All of the action sequences (this film is action packed!) are directed real well. It’s all clear, some of it is brutal and the pacing is excellent. John Powell provides the soundtrack for the movie and it’s boss. The score plays a big role in helping to establish Solo as it’s own tale outside of what fans have become used to over the course of the saga. Again, with the direction, some of the shots and scenes the way in which they are directed gives this movie a very unique tone that I dug a lot. Effects are a mix of practical and CGI but the respect given to the work of good old make up and puppet work is so cool to see as it looks like there’s a healthy amount of that in the film. It’s very funny too. Not too much humour, there are some serious beats in the film, but overall it’s like a ride from start to finish and the whole while I was just sitting back and having fun.

Casting was key in order for how well Solo would work and in this aspect, again, the film is a success. There’s very little point comparing Ehrenreich to Ford. So I won’t. He’s great as Han Solo. Anyone worried about that can rest easy. The same goes for Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. If anything this film has made me much more comfortable with seeing more movies featuring characters we know and love but played by different actors. Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau are all great but the runaway breakout is, it has to be said, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as droid L3-37. She’s awesome and might be my new fave droid from the saga. I’m gonna have to think about that!

I can’t see how you could come out of Solo: A Star Wars Story not having had a great time. As either a casual or big fan of Star Wars. The film delivered way more than I thought it would and it did take me by surprise just how much I enjoyed the film. It’s biggest success is the way in which it shines a light of parts of the galaxy that hadn’t been explored before. This fan felt Solo would make the Star Wars saga seem smaller when the opposite ended up being true. Pause for irony. The lesson? Keep an open mind with these films because nine times out of ten you have no idea how they will turn out and where they will take you.

 

 

 

Army of Darkness

Posted: May 25, 2018 in Movies
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Army of Darkness (or Evil Dead 3) is the final big screen instalment of horror icon Ash and his battle against the forces of darkness. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi returned as star and director in what I have to say is a bit of a tonal departure from the first two films. Army of Darkness is a goofy comedy first and foremost. There’s a lot of love out there for the film, from this fan too, but I do wish the film had not pulled back so much on the gore and the horror. Recently I discovered Raimi was under some pressure during the filming of Evil Dead II to cut back on the gore and perhaps this instruction was doubled down on for part three in order to secure all the funding they needed? Who knows. The film is slap stick central with the pulse of the Evil Dead running through it but lacking its bite.

This movie actually sat on the shelf for near enough a year. It was eventually released in 1992 and had TWO different cuts released to cinemas. One of them was a studio issued cut that had a ‘happy’ ending. The other, and this was the one I first saw, had a more Ash appropriate ending that perfectly set up a potential Evil Dead 4. Apparently test audiences found Raimi’s ending downbeat so a new one was requested by the studio. To my knowledge the film was released in the U.K. as intended because the video I rented had Raimi’s preferred ending intact. If that wasn’t enough fifteen minutes – whole sequences – were cut from the film and are now thankfully available on most home editions along with the theatrical cut. That’s cool because you can watch ’em both and see which one you prefer.

When we last left Ash (Campbell) he had been transported to the Middle Ages. The people of the time saw him as a foretold prophecy that would destroy the darkness threatening their lives. That’s, more or less, where this movie picks up. I am convinced now more than ever there are multiple timelines at play in these films because once more we get a prologue which recton’s small plot beats from the previous film. I’m cool with that. Ash has NO interest in being a hero. He just wants to go home to his own time. Destiny has other ideas and gradually, mostly against his wishes, Ash raises to the occasion and steps up to face the Army of Darkness.

Army of Darkness sails by on its lead’s charm and the excellent special effects. The make up, puppet work and stop motion animation is fantastic. The film offers up a host of ghoulish delights and some serious body horror that is a total blast to see on screen. A lot of the film feels like a love letter to Ray Harryhausen, the acclaimed British visual effects creator who had a massive impact on a generation of filmmakers from Spielberg to Raimi. The troops of the evil army in Army of Darkness a clear homage to Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts. All of that stuff is great. The slapstick comedy though, for me anyway, goes too far in this one. It doesn’t impact the film too much but on a personel taste level I just felt the silly stuff goes over the top and pushes Army of Darkness into a more blatant comedy zone when I would have liked it to be more horror and then comedy. I think Evil Dead 2 and Ash vs. Evil Dead are the best example of that balance

Danny Elfman contributes to the film’s score with a rousing march for this demon army. The sets are the best out of the entire trilogy. See that’s the thing. A spooky windmill, a medieval castle and a truly horror movie graveyard if ever you saw one all give the film a brilliant horror look but those settings never feel truly chilling cause there’s just so much comedy underlining the whole thing. The rest of the cast do good but this movie is basically Campbell’s show as it should be. He’s the star and as Ash there is no way the series would have worked as great as it does. Raimi never disappoints when it comes to creative camera work and his work on Army of Darkness is no exception.

I’m uncomfortably aware of the fact this reads like I was massively dissapointed with Army of Darkness. That’s not the case at all and I’ll have you know this movie was my first introduction to Ash and his crazy world. Just as I’ve gotten older and grown to love the more horror focused first two Evil Dead movies I feel like this final feature installment should have shot for the stars and indulged in the horror, the gore and yeah even a bit of comedy. Army of Darkness is a great film and a fun film. Just you might find yourself laughing more than you expected to.

 

 

Freddy vs. Jason

Posted: May 21, 2018 in Movies

 

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Freddy vs. Jason had a long journey reaching audiences. The idea of the slasher showdown was first tossed around as the plot for the seventh Friday The 13th! That’s how long this movie took to get made. Various writers took aim at the concept – I have read a lot of those scripts – until Damian Shannon and Mark Swift impressed New Line Cinema with their idea and delivered a great script. Ronny Yu, who was best known in the West for the great Bride of Chucky, signed on to direct. Creatively, it seemed, the film was in safe hands. With Robert Englund a lock to play Freddy Krueger fans assumed Friday fave Kane Hodder would return as Jason Voorhees. Sadly that wasn’t what happened. Instead Ken Kirzinger landed the role (and does a good job all things considered!) as Yu felt, much to the fan’s horror, Hodder didn’t look intimidating enough! That was the first alarm and while this film is a lot of fun it seems like this casting swap was the tip of the iceberg for what was to come.

The special features included with the home release of Freddy vs Jason and the segments that touch on its making in the excellent Never Sleep Again documentary, highlight how the film was made and the issues it faced. Ronny Yu, let’s just say it as it is, was way more interested in directing a comic book like movie – the film has loads of awesome shots – than he was a genuine scary horror movie. This film is not scary. The actors, who I like across the board in this, are on record as saying Yu had very little interest in their performances and ‘character’. What I’m trying to say is the film is all over the place. The actors who play the teens in peril, you can tell they are trying to nail a tone for the pace of the film, one that’s more serious and fitting for the subject matter, while Yu is more focused on how the film looks than how it feels. Reading Shannon and Swift’s script you can tell those guys had a darker, while still fun, legit horror in mind.

Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Katharine Isabelle, Jason Ritter and Chris Marquette make up the central teens in the middle of the slasher carnage and the actors throw themselves into the mayhem. For this film the teens are not the reason the fans are rushing to see it yet I think the writers did a good job of giving them all a bit more depth and likeability than you would expect. While I wasn’t devastated when one of them met their demise I wasn’t rooting for their deaths either. Normally you don’t give a crap with these sort of films as the sequels pile up. Robert Englund looks to be having a great time. This vs. movie clearly meant a lot to him and it shows in his performance. This, it seems, being his last performance as Freddy, it is a fitting farewell allowing Englund to depart the role on a high note. While I wanted Kane Hodder to star as Jason I think Kirzinger did good with what he was given to work with. The Jason is this film is defo a different sort of Jason, more like Frankenstein’s monster, but still as lethal as Friday fans would expect.

The true star of Freddy vs. Jason is the script. Mark Swift and Damian Shannon are fans of both A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th and it shows in their screenplay. Carefully aware of the mythology of both franchises and taking place, seemingly, in continuity. That’s no easy task to accomplish. Some of the kills work as call backs to fan fave’s from both franchises and the new kills are brutal. People die hard in this movie. It’s so awesome, as a fan of both of these slasher series, to see how Swift and Shannon have managed to blend the two worlds and mythologies together in a way that comes across more effortless and natural than I’m sure it must have been. The one drawback I had with the story, as a Elm Street fan, was Freddy doesn’t get enough kills. Overall though the story is the star of the film and it’s obvious Swift and Shannon worked hard to make sure both Elm Street and Friday fans were satisfied. That being most clear in the finale which, again credit to the writers, is not a cop out and has a clear victor.

This movie isn’t ever boring. It’s full of energy (sadly not the scary kind), it looks great, has some brutal kills and it when it comes to the main event, the slasher showdown years in the making, it’s a success.

 

Deadpool 2 (No Spoilers)

Posted: May 18, 2018 in Movies
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Tim Miller’s Deadpool is a lean, mean and fun solo debut for the celebrated Marvel character. No one could have foresaw the hit it would prove to be when it debuted in 2016 to both critial and fan praise. Despite a limited budget Deadpool boasted great action, an outrageous lead (Ryan Reynolds) and buckets full of humour and gore. Put simply it was a template for how to do a comic character justice and a wake up call for big studios that R rated superhero movies had an audience and they wanted more. For the most part Deadpool 2 delivers just that. It’s bigger, longer, louder and introduces comic heavy hitters Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz) but is it better?

The plot for Deadpool 2 is simple. It’s a Terminator template starring Deadpool with a message about family at it’s twisted heart. Cable, the mutant time traveler, must avert a future tragedy. His plan is to eliminate said threat before it has a chance to mature and embrace it’s murderous nature. The problem is Deadpool has decided to step in and take on the role of Sarah Connor. Taking a pro-life stance on this being having the opportunity to choose it’s own fate. Along the way a BETA X-Force pops up to counter Cable and the rest of the plot is as crazy and laugh out loud as you would imagine! Mostly.

The X-Force stuff is fun and surprising. Comic fans will get a kick out of it. The time travel elements are handled really well and do not, thankfully, over complicate things. The big screen debuts of Cable and Domino are as successful as that of Wade in the first movie. Fans of Cable and Domino will be delighted. What I found lacking with this sequel surprised me because it was the element I was least worried about and that’s the action. It has loads but I found it, at times, hard to follow. By that I mean the way it’s shot and staged. More than not it’s done well but when a few bits are slightly choppy it sticks out more.

David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) took on directing duties for this sequel. This guy knows how to do action and do it good but, in my eyes anyway, something just felt a bit odd from time to time in the staging and editing. Tim Miller, who directed the first movie, I think had a better feel for the pace, flow and staging of the action. For the sequel (and I can understand why) the action is on a different level and why not? Bigger budget. It makes sense. Also, as I have said, most of the action is solid and shot well but it’s just those odd moments that aren’t stood out more in comparison.

Deadpool 2‘s pace is a bit up and down at times. The opening of the film, that acts as a prologue to what is to come, is great. After that though the film takes more time than I anticipated to kick off. The middle act is the strongest of the whole movie, with the most impressive action beats and visual treats and then, again, the third act sort of just shows up and wraps the whole thing up. It’s not done badly but it just, structure and pace wise, does not feel as confident nor accomplished as the excellent first film.

Josh Brolin, like Ryan Reynolds, appears to have been born to play Cable. Zazie Beetz, as Domino, is likeable, charismatic and the way the film displays her power set (luck) is awesome. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead make welcome returns. Colossus getting a lot more to do this time out.   Deadpool’s exchanges between the X-Men being highlights throughout the film. Julian Dennison is an awesome young actor (check out Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and he is great in this. As a young mutant named Russell he is pivotal to the plot. Oh and Karan Soni as Dopinder will make you laugh. A lot.

This fan had feared the creatives would go bigger for the sequel when all I wanted (and felt was best for this sort of franchise) was another mid budget action packed follow up. There’s tons of characters in this and most of them are welcome. As a result though some characters get less to do. Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the love of Wade’s life, is sort of pushed to the side. That was a shame ’cause the chemistry between Vanessa and Wade is off the charts. Normally in these kind of films the ‘romance’ element is the least interesting but Wade and Vanessa are so funny together I would have happily welcomed a plot device that would have allowed her to get more stuck into the Cable story and the action. The same goes for Negasonic Teenage Warhead. I would have loved it if she had of gotten more to do in the sequel after her great debut in the last movie. 

Deadpool 2 manages successfully to raise the stakes, up the laughs, introduce great new characters and overall be a good sequel. Going forward I can’t see this series going back to its more modest roots and if that is the case then hopefully the creatives manage to capture exactly what it is they set out to do in a as entertaining a way as possible. When Deadpool 2 works it is very good. Cable, I can’t stress it enough, is beyond bad arse. He’s boss. I had a good time with Deadpool 2.

 

Kickboxer: Retaliation

Posted: May 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

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1989’s Kickboxer is a decent watch. The Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle was a martial arts showcase for what the up and coming actor was capable of and it paid off. Van Damme would go on to carve out a action name for himself. In 2016 Kickboxer got a remake/reboot in the form of Kickboxer: Vengeance. The later was okay, what elevated it was the clear skill its star, Alain Moussi, was in possession of. The fact it also featured Van Damme (now in a mentor role to Moussi’s hero) was a bonus. Besides all that though the film was a fun, if not altogether great, martial arts movie. Well be prepared to get smashed in the face folks because the sequel, Kickboxer: Retaliation, is bloody great. You know how you catch some old 80’s martial arts flicks and the fighting ain’t as great as you remember? Okay well this movie is cut from that same cloth (the fun 80’s feel) but should you revisit this one in another twenty years you won’t have to worry about the action and the awesome martial arts on display not standing the test of time. The fights in this beast are brutal, fun, bloody and boast excellent choreography.

Kickboxer: Retaliation picks up some time after the last movie. Kurt Sloan (Moussi) is in Vegas and making a name for himself as a professional fighter. Sadly for Kurt (luckily for us) his past comes back to haunt him and he finds himself pulled back into the world of underground fighting. There are no rules and only the strongest get to walk way. Kurt must overcome various threats of both the directly lethal and emotional when those he cares about are used against him should he refuse to fight and put his life on the line once again. What I dug most about the plot to this one was how it revealed the threats and world of the last movie were simply the tip of the iceberg. Despite the story being simple it felt organic. That vibe flows through the rest of the movie from the fun soundtrack, the enthusiastic cast, the brisk pace and the confident and clear direction from Dimitri Logothetis and his stunt/fight team. There’s a outlandishly great big baddie in this one too and just wait until you find out why this guy is so formidable. The 80’s would be proud.

Alain Moussi is a legit talent. Watching the last movie it was obvious how skilled he was as a martial arts fighter but in the sequel his charisma shines through. Looking him up online it seems like he began his career on film as a stunt performer and has only recently made the leap to actor. It’s cool seeing how he comes across even more confident in Retaliation as an actor. Filling out the cast and lending to the overall charm of the film are returning co-stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sara Malakul Lane. We get characters we’ve already met and get to see them thrown into new and dangerous situations. Van Damme as Master Durand has his own issues to navigate and looks to be enjoying his return to the role. If that stuff wasn’t cool enough you get none other than Christopher Lambert. He plays Thomas Moore, the guy who appears to be behind all of the underground fights. Lambert is a great addition to the series and fans of his Highlander and Mortal Kombat days will be happy with his role here.

The set pieces are stronger in this sequel. The fights are shot better and the choreography is stronger. The plot is not afraid to embrace the downright strange but it only serves to make the film more fun. There are some bizarre cameos too which I’ll leave the viewers to discover. A clear love of martial arts is what most comes across most though and not just martial arts but fighting and the skill of it in general. It has smarts too, being careful never to over glamorise fighting by clearly showing how dangerous and devastating it can be. I’d heard Kickboxer: Retaliation was better than the last one but by how much took me by surprise. I had a great time with this sequel.

From it’s fun opening Kickboxer: Retaliation sets such a confident tone of what is to come. Even if you walked away from the last movie feeling disappointed I’d suggest you still give this sequel a shot because it’s a cracking martial arts action movie. If you dug the first flick as I did but wanted more bite then look no further. Apparently this is the second part of a planned trilogy. If the next movie matches this one I’d be delighted but should it prove even better then old school action fans could end up having one awesome martial arts trilogy on their hands.

Here we go guys. Shane Black (Predator, The Nice Guys) is back with The Predator ! (AKA Predator 4). This movie, along with Halloween, are THE films I can not wait to see this year. Check out this beast of a trailer. It oozes Shane Black and if you know this guy’s movies then I don’t need to tell you why you should be looking forward to this. I love the look of the film and the 80’s sensibilities the trailer looks to revel in. I hope the film wears it’s sci-fi/action/horror badge with pride and delivers one out of this world movie.

The Predator, directed by Shane Black, hits cinemas this September.

Jurassic Park 3

Posted: May 9, 2018 in Movies
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Jurassic Park III came out summer of 2001. This was a gamble and here is why. Audiences were not done with Jurassic Park as the box office from the original movie and it’s sequel showed. Speilberg was. At least in terms of directing. What was a given in the late 1990’s was a third movie in the series would be coming but who would be it’s captain? And what the hell would it be about? Surely they couldn’t go back to one of the islands again could they? Well as it turned out Joe Johnston (Captain America) would step up and take on directing duties and you bet your bucks they would once more return to the safe island settings.

There were a few different competing plots for Jurassic Park 3 before it started filming. At one stage a ‘fresh start’ was tossed about which would have no returning characters . It would focus instead on a plane load of highshool teens who had to come together in order to escape the island after their plane crashes!! As much as I still would have watched the hell out of THAT movie this one does bring back series vet Dr Alan Grant. Once more played by the excllent Sam Neill. Dr Grant is tricked into escorting a married couple on a tour of Isla Sorna, along with members of their ‘church group’ yet all is not as it seems and when their plane goes down they must – this sounds familair – come together in order to escape the island! Essentially this one is a search and rescue movie with no competing plot points (AKA The Lost World) so it feels more focused as a result.

I was worried as the film entered pre-production. I wanted Stevie Speilberg to come back. I felt he had to. I knew who Johnston was. He’d directed Rocketeer and the aces October Sky but I’m ashamed to say (if I’m being honest) as a dumb teen I didn’t think he was good enough. I was wrong. Because what Joe Johnston pulled off is a fun monster movie. It’s over way too soon, it’s got a great look and feel (istelf an acomplishemt as audiences once more would be visiting the same setting as the last movie) and I’d make a case for it being a more acomplished sequel overall than The Lost World. The film soars when it’s focusing on new threats such as the Spinosarus or finally giving audiences Pteranodon in full on threat mode in one of the film’s – and series – best set pieces. The practial work, once more due to Stan Winston and his crew, is another of the film’s highlights. The velociraptors have a fantastic intro in this movie and that following set piece is one of my favourite sequences. It’s so simple in how it plays out yet the build up and pay-off seems effortless when I doubt it was anything but to pull off.

Besides Neill the film is full of talented character actors, many of whom where, up to this stage in their careers, more known for their indipendent movies. William H. Macy, Tea Leoni and Alessandro Nivola were not traditional ‘blockbuster’ stars (whatever the heck that means) so their casting went against the expected and it paid off. Each actor not only brings weight to their characters but a quirky charm too, more so in the case of Leoni and Macy. Nivola is boss. I figured he was being set up in this movie to take on a more central role in the series moving forwards but as we now know that wasn’t meant to be. Series fans will be pleased to see the film features a great cameo from Dr Ellie Sattler (the amaze Laura Dern). Sadly Ellie doesn’t get to join in on the dino mayhem this time out but she does end up being quite pivotal to the plot regardless. I hope one day Ellie is back in the midst of the madness because out of all of the legacy characters I feel she’s been short changed the most.

There are Jurassic Park fans out there who have very little love for this entry and I think that’s a pitty. I’m not delusional so I know this ain’t a patch on the original movie. I will always make a case for Jurassic Park III, looking at it from start to finish, as a more streamlined and (sorry Steve) fun sequel than The Lost World. I do think it’s looked down on by some fans of the franchise. Clearly it’s budget wasn’t as flexible as the previous films and it does feel smaller in scale and scope (maybe move off the island at this point?) but on the flipside I’d say it shows what can be done with a bit more focus and creativity instead of trying to fit so much into one movie just ’cause you can.

 

 

Evil Dead II

Posted: May 7, 2018 in Movies
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Evil Dead II. What is this? A seq-make? See the thing about Evil Dead II is that when it starts it begins as a mini remake of the first film. It actually changes the plot somewhat, if slightly. Instead of going to the cabin in the middle of the woods with his buddies Ash, our hero, is seen with just Linda his girlfriend. There’s a very quick retelling of the first flick’s gruesome events, some stuff plays out slightly differently and then within ten to fifteen minutes we pick right up from where the first film left off and what follows is all sequel. I wonder why director Sam Raimi decided to do that? It doesn’t bother me or offend me but it’s just weird. Maybe there’s all sorts of paralell time lines going on? That would actually make sense in this crazy and fun world of Evil Dead.

The hit sequel arrived in the summer of 1987 in UK cinemas and followes Ash (Bruce Campbell), the hero of the first movie, as he once more faces off against legions of demons who mount an attack on the iconic cabin. Their intent is to not allow Ash to esacape with his life nor his soul. Ash is joined by a host of new characters – country folk Jake & Bobby Joe and Annie and her friend, Annie being the daughter of the guy who owns the cabin and whose research uncovered the book of the dead. This book is the reason why all these demons have been let loose and started causing all sorts of crazy and gruesome mayhem. Raimi and his co-writer Scott Spiegel add more mythology to the plot this time out and it’s really cool. Not only that but you can notice the very clear intention of the makers to build a larger world beyond even this sequel, which now looking back decades later, is exactly what Sam Raimi managed to acomplish.

Brcue Campbell is a legend. Not just ’cause of his role as Ash in these Evil Dead movies. Although that alone would be enough to certify his legacy, but the guy is seriously underrated. Raimi and co. like to play up his funny side and that’s really evident in this one. Ash, who was more your average college guy in the first flick, is a total bad arse/lady killer this time out and on the wrong end of some heavy slap stick torture. He goes through a lot in Evil Dead 2. Dan Hicks and Kassie Wesley are fun additions as Jake and Bobby Joe. Those roles could easily have been throw away but the actors really have fun with them. Then there’s Sarah Berry’s Annie. She’s probably the first female lead of the Evil Dead universe and I like her character a lot in this movie. She takes no shit and gets things done when the crazy goes into overdrive. Annie, being more serious, makes for a cool counterpart to Ash and his more comic vibe. It’s a shame her character never made another appearance in the movies (or series for that matter).

Sam Raimi had a bigger budget for this sequel and it shows. The film feels bigger. Where as in the first movie all of the action is confined to (in and around) the cabin in this one there are multiple plots racing towards one another. It gives the world a bigger feel. One great example is a scene that’s seemingly throw away where Ash has to drive his car to escape a threat. It’s shot way more movie-like than similar scenes in the first film. The special effects are much better. The ‘witch’ is like a nightmare come to life. She’s horrible! Haha. Every time I see her scenes, despite them being funny in places , it just freaks me out. The creature effects and gore are great. There is ace puppet work on display and more examples of practical effects used excellently throughout. A sequence in which Ash is loosing his mind is one of the films big standouts and features really creative use of practical effects. The creativity on display in this flick is really somthing to take note of.

Evil Dead II is the fave entry in this franchise for a legion of it’s fans and rightly so. I wouldn’t dispute that at all because the proof is right there on the screen. Yet, I don’t know why, I seem to always go back to the first movie. Somthing about it just puts it ever so slightly ahead of this sequel. Evil Dead II is a more than worthy follow up to it’s predosessor and one which is listed, even now, as one of the best sequels (and horror movies) of all time. The ending is used brilliantly to show how fearless all involved are in moving forward with this universe in unexpected and insane ways. It’s just another reason why Evil Dead II is so much fun. It’s creative, gross, scary, funny, nuts and more than ready to go against what the audience expects. I bet anyone going into Evil Dead II for the first time had no idea what they would be in store for in the following movie.

 

This new music video is taken from the Deadpool 2 soundtrack. It made my week. I can not stop watching it. Don’t expect much footage from the movie, which will be with us in less than two weeks, just get ready to dig the tune (I like it!) and laugh a lot. Seriously just wait till Wade makes his way onto the stage with Celine.

Deadpool 2 hits screens May 15th in the U.K.