There's a major hostage crisis going down, a small team of Arabian… MoreThere's a major hostage crisis going down, a small team of Arabian terrorists have taken control of a US airliner packed with innocent civilians. They wanna hurt the US of A, they will stop at nothing...what are you gonna do??. There's only one thing you can do, only one man you can call, Bruce...no not him, Sly...no try again, Arn...no! god damn it! Chuck! Chuck Norris! remember him? the bloke who never swears, the one with the stubble thing going on.
'sleep tight, sucker'
Now you'd think this was a stupid one man army type flick with hordes of bad guys getting mown down by the all American hero...and you'd be right. No seriously its actually a lot deeper than that believe it or not. There are many aspects of this film which have been based around real events which does give the film a serious biopic vibe, even though it is just an action flick.
The start of the film is set at the end of US Operation Eagle Claw as the Americans are evacuating Iran. But the main crux of the films plot is clearly based on the hostage crisis in 1985 of TWA flight 847. In fact the plot here is virtually an exact recreation of what happened, so it could almost be seen as a proper historical account, almost.
As for the actual rescue by Norris and his team, that is of course all make believe and where the film does enter the action man genre. To be honest everything up to that area is pretty intense really, the hijacking by a young tanned and impressive Robert Forster is really good and pretty authentic looking (can Forster really speak Lebanese?). You do actually feel uncomfortable watching the terrorists at work, you feel for the passengers and it does make you think about what you'd do in a similar situation. The scene where the bad guys start to single out all the Jews is admittedly an emotional moment, things get nasty and all you can think is where the hell is Chuck Norris.
Once you get past the airliner sections the film does loose that intensity, all the male/Jewish passengers have been locked away in a Beirut dungeon and its up to Delta Force to kick ass. This is where we get into Rambo territory as I'm sure you can guess. Its been slow coming but eventually you do get what you paid for if you paid for it that is, America's finest going head to head with errr...Robert Forster and his henchmen.
Sounds good right? well...meh. Yeah its OK but its not as awesome as I kinda expected, there are quite a lot of Delta Force soldiers so you don't really feel like you're watching an elite ops team, more like a platoon. The danger aspect is kinda lessened because there are so many of them. They are all driving through the town en route to the evil terrorists lair, no one sees or hears them apparently, despite them being a small armada. Then once the action does kick off we don't really see much of them, it all focuses on Norris running amok and taking everyone out just by growling at them (but not swearing! no swearing ever!!).
Can't deny its fun to watch the hairy one do his thing with that mullet whipping in the Middle Eastern wind but it does get hokey. The whole thing with him on the motorbike felt way too much like a kids superhero flick, plus do Delta Force use motorbikes with rocket launchers fixed on them?. The stunts are as you would expect from an 80's action flick...obvious. Obvious in the sense that you can seen the ramps vehicles go over, they explode for no reason, chases are clearly going at a snails pace and frequently hit stalls loaded with fruit and veg. Then there's my favourite, when about three or four bad guys appear and the good guy merely waves his gun randomly in the air at them and they all go down flailing like mad, classic stuff.
I love the films dated stereotypical approach to the Arabian bad guys though. All sweaty dirty looking with thick facial hair, wearing camouflaged army fatigues and head bands. Especially at the start of the film in the airport where one of the terrorists is trying to board, boy he doesn't look too suspicious with his mop of hair, scruffy beard and dripping in sweat!. Oh and the soundtrack is classic too, plays all the time, usually completely out of place and its entirely the wrong tone for film.
Its a bit of a Norris classic no doubt but the films vibe changes dramatically throughout. At first its quite a serious and strong drama based on reality, then things slowly change and we get the obligatory action man stuff but with silly 'A-Team-esque' vehicle jiggery pokery. Overall it did feel a bit like a TV movie at times to me, the lack of blood and hard violence lets it down if you ask me. Not that violence, blood and swearing makes a film better but there are times in films like this when you just need it to get you going, up the anti.
Not the best special ops action flick I've seen mainly because you only get special ops action at the end and even then you only get to know about three of this large squad, and one of them is Norris. I guess it doesn't feel like a special ops film to me, just a rescue film.
The Mike Tyson story this could be, Mr Chambers (Rhames) goes to jail… MoreThe Mike Tyson story this could be, Mr Chambers (Rhames) goes to jail for an accusation of rape and becomes an even bigger media typhoon than he was before. At first I didn't think much of the film to be honest, it was cliched and kinda boring really plus Rhames as 'Chambers' was an annoying character who you wanted to see beaten.
I soon discovered that my feelings towards Chambers actually fuelled my enjoyment as the film continues and Snipes character 'Monroe' comes into play. The tense build up between the two up to the obvious finale does get you going. Lets not get over excited here this is your typical 'Rocky-ish' story with all the usual characters, dialog and scenes, not original but a good beat em up when the fists fly.
The final fight is well done and you do feel the blows as Snipes and Rhames match up and sweat over each other, I'm pretty sure Rhames would win in a real fight though as he looks pretty darn solid.
Much better film title this time around, loving the sound of it, alas… MoreMuch better film title this time around, loving the sound of it, alas if only the film was actually as good. The franchise moves on, the next chapter adapted from the novel of the same name, basically Greek mythology set within our present day and updated.
This time our young hero 'Percy' must find the Golden Fleece to heal a magical tree that protects his home of Camp Half-Blood. The fleece can be found in the lair of the Cyclops 'Polyphemus' which itself lies within the Sea of Monsters (Bermuda Triangle). So off our little intrepid adventurers go to find it and save the world as we know it...kinda. Oh and did I forget to mention there are some bad guys also trying to get the fleece to raise 'Kronos'? well there you go.
In all honesty I can't really recall much about the first film, it got so easily lost in a whirlwind of Potter-mania and some other nondescript replicas, but I did seem to slightly enjoy it according to my review (yep I read em). This of course is still the main problem with this franchise and any other really...they will always be compared to the superior Harry Potter. The kid with specs set the bar high and was the first big budget fantasy of its kind to do really well. After that every else has seemed weak in comparison, merely average imitations.
This film does itself no favours simply because it looks average in the special effects department, a major flaw for a fantasy. Right from the start everything just looks lame, Camp Half-Blood just looks like some kind of summer holiday Cub Scout camp where you'd eat sausage n baked beans for dinner. The big creatures are obviously CGI and boy do they look it, most of them just stand out big time, that large mechanical bull that attacks the camp is laughable. There are various other big creatures throughout that are all CGI and none look any good frankly, accept for the odd closeup perhaps. The finale with Kronos is the same, if these were videogame in-game sequences I'd be impressed, but they aren't.
Some sequences really do look truly awful in fact, I'm amazed they got through into the finished film!. When the young trio ride a big Seahorse thingy across the sea to reach the bad guys yacht, that is a bad one (oh and the yacht? that doesn't feel very fantasy-like does it, kinda out of place). They are riding a wet slippery sea creature at speed, yet they aren't holding on to anything, how do they stay on its back people?! plus they didn't seem all that wet afterwards. Then a bit later on in the same scene we see Percy and Luke ride/surf a big wave...don't ask it looks terrible, all the water effects look terrible.
The only bit of originality to rear its head appeared to be the concept of making the three Stygian witches cab drivers in a yellow New York cab. A unique approach for sure and one that sort of works I guess...but then I realised I'd seen a similar idea before in 'Scrooged'.
A common problem is the fact everything also seems so bland and derivative. All the characters are your bog standard types and offer nothing new, the hero, his sidekick, the female sidekick and the best friend who you know will get killed (and you also know will come back at the last minute). Next to that are the bog standard baddies led by the good looking charmer with blonde hair. I mean come on...at least lets try and make the characters look different from the Potter clan jesus!. You don't care about any of them because they are all so cliched, we've seen this all before and you know none of them will come to harm anyway so what's the point?.
I guess what bothered me the most was the film was clearly trying to be epic, every scene is accompanied by a strong musical score as if that will make it so. Its not meant to be a dark emotional journey with teen angst that's for sure, its a light-hearted fantasy that doesn't show much or any death, but everything is built up to enormous proportions only to let you down. You simply can't connect with any of the characters or what's going on because the whole thing is such a basic videogame with step by step action sequences. Complete one task against a CGI foe, move on to the next, complete that task against a CGI puzzle, move on to the next...and so forth.
You can tell the whole franchise isn't really going as planned seeing as this is only the second film and already the cast continuity has been compromised, two major characters recast. Still I gotta give some kudos for the attempt at bringing Greek mythology into the present day even though it doesn't really work, or should that be kudos for the novel?.
Plenty of good morals throughout the adventure, lots of heroic actions and bouts of friendship that will make you gag, but the entire production is predictable, anti climatic and dull. A shoddy looking sequel which fails to better the first entry.
Coming along some five years after the similar themed 'Toy Soldiers',… MoreComing along some five years after the similar themed 'Toy Soldiers', two films about schools under fire from criminals. I guess that's about as far as the similarities go though as this is an undercover mission for some mercs/Nam vets where as the other film was terrorists taking over the school.
So a nasty messed up city high school is plagued by drugs, weapons and bad eggs, what is the Principle to do??. Hire a badass killer merc of course, but the thing is he doesn't know the sub is a badass killer merc. So both the yobbish kids and the staff have no clue this guy is an ex-Nam hardass. As things progress for the Berenger the merc he finds out all is not what it seems.
A perfect role for the stoic butch looking Berenger who can play military types till the cows come home. Not much is required of him really, beating the kids down, killing drug dealers, being a smartass...all in a days work. His little tight nit group of mercs are a cool bunch, a young Luis Guzman, the insane William Forsythe, military action flick regular Ray Cruz and Richard Brooks. A really good team of character actors that are great fun to watch, its just a shame we don't more of them in action together.
Most of the film is a huge stereotypical montage of standard scenarios you can see coming a mile away. Its all very predictable and you know Berenger will never get hurt. Its undeniably fun to watch these sequences where the youths are acting up with their gangland dialect, waving their hands around making gang signs, virtually behaving like cartoon characters whilst being dressed like bums. At the same time all the girls looks greasy, sweaty and thoroughly unwashed haha need I say almost all the youths are black, Latino or Hispanic. Yep this film doesn't beat around the bush with racial attitudes towards suburban inner city schools in the US.
So yes you could say its racist and a bad image on certain groups of young people but dare I say could it also be the truth?. That aside its still a rush to see Berenger humiliate the posers and stamp his authority on the class. I must also say Marc Anthony is really well cast as the slimy skinny gangland leader within the class, a simmering undertone ready to pop. You really do dislike this guy as the plot builds, you know Berenger could kick his ass but he still has that ominous presence, plus the fact he's only suppose to be a teen makes him even more annoying when he gets all mouthy.
The whole thing is pretty hokey and like I said before it is very predictable. The finale shoot out within the school is cool though no doubt about that, although I would have preferred if the bad guys had brought lots of gang thugs to the battle instead of their special ops guys. That kinda dismisses the fact the good guys are a special ops team, its suppose to be mercs vs drug dealing thugs.
Still its very cool to see all of Berenger's mercs kick ass in their own unique way. A final kudos to Ernie Hudson as the shifty principle of the school, his performance isn't much better than his hammy role in 'Congo' but that's why its so good. Definitely a bit of an adrenaline rush at times with this one, I think everyone has had fantasies about kicking the crap out of their old school bullies at some point. This would probably be a step too far but I'm sure being a badass merc teaching out of control youths a lesson would still be right up there.
So I think its safe to say we all know what this film is about and… MoreSo I think its safe to say we all know what this film is about and what its based on right?. Should I also be surprised that the entire thing is a bit of a cliched rehash of every animated film ever made?...sort of. Its quite clear this film is a direct spin off from the 'Cars' movies, its no secret obviously just by looking at the poster. Problem is its not been created by Pixar but by DisneyToon Studios, its all still under the same roof, written/produced by Lasseter, but its clear to see the quality just isn't here.
The film was meant for a straight to DVD release and boy can you tell. First thing that does hit you is the fact the visuals just aren't the high quality you'd expect. They look nice sure but blatantly low in standards compared to other Pixar work, it just looks like a cheap DVD release all the way. Those spin off adventures that big mainstream characters have but no one ever hears about them because they disappear straight into the shops, made purely to capitalise on the original cinematic hit.
So the visuals look basic and too simple, although they are planes, only so much you can do with them I guess. The actual animation is fine but overall it all looks dated, about ten years old. Next up is the plot...oh my the plot, you know those overused underdog tales where the plucky young hero braves his fears and eventually, after some wise tutoring from a mentor, overcomes the odds and wins something, usually a tournament or whatever. Yep well that is the plot right here all over again, predictable, hokey and corny to the max.
Character wise its the same story I'm afraid, you can guess right now exactly what the characters might be...and you'd be right, yes it is that predictable. One plucky young hero...check, one gruff wise old mentor...check, one soft female love interest...check, one goofy amusing sidekick...check, one dastardly plotting baddie...check, two clueless amusing baddie sidekicks...check and plenty of stereotypical multiracial characters that could border on being offensive to certain folk...big fat check.
Next to that is the fact all the characters just look boring, real boring!. There is nothing exciting going on with any of them, all the background characters look the same, lots of little cookiecutter forklift characters whizzing around. The planes are a standard mix of light aircraft, old war planes, racing planes etc...all propeller planes I might add. The only neat little touch was using Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer as two Super Hornet jet fighters in a cool little 'Top Gun' homage. That was literately the best thing the film had to offer.
I'm still amazed they didn't include any of the 'Cars' characters or have any tie in's anywhere (unless I missed it). Surely that would be a must?! screaming out for that I would of thought, strange.
The other thing that bothered me about this was the fact it just doesn't work. There are no humans in this world, this universe seems to be a fully living mechanical one with no mammals whatsoever. Now I know its a kids film and I shouldn't delve too deep but I kept asking myself things like...why on earth would they need buildings, tables, glasses and various other regular items humans use. Why would the airport need an actual airport building? why would their be airliners if there are no people to carry?. Thing is if that airliner is suppose to carry other plane 'people' or cars etc...surely it would have to be HUGE! surely all buildings would have to be huge to fit all these vehicles within them.
I know its picky but the more I thought about it the more it just makes no sense at all. Why would the main character, who is a cropduster, need to dust crops?? do these mechanical things eat crops? human food, surely not?. And why would the crops need that kind of protection anyway seeing as there aren't any organic creatures in this world to eat them, or so it seems. Every vehicle in the film is a living mechanical object, even the big aircraft carrier is alive! but how would that work? my god his existence must be deathly dull haha. The whole film felt more like one of those tacky old kids cartoons/animated shows where all the vehicles were living 'Thomas the Tank Engine' or 'Jimbo and the Jet Set'.
The main problem is the lack of humans, without them it makes this world completely unworkable, you need humans to give these vehicles a real purpose and believability. The 'Cars' films weren't too bad because cars aren't as big as planes obviously plus I don't think everything was alive in those films, could be wrong. Like what the hell do these vehicles do all day besides race? and who or what creates them? the characters even chat about birth at one point, how would that come to be exactly?. I know its not important but it just seems so stupid to me when I was watching it, as if nothing has really been thought through, its a kids flick so it doesn't matter.
That aside the film is reasonably enjoyable in places but it really is lacking in imagination badly. It literately feels like they just took the foundations of the 'Cars' movie, stripped it of cars and slapped a planes shell over the top and churned it out with a few minor alterations. Is there a better word I can use other than predictable? this word doesn't feel grand enough to describe just how much of a rehash this film is, fast food flick making of epic proportions folks.
A reboot of the very original Evil Dead film which was rebooted once… MoreA reboot of the very original Evil Dead film which was rebooted once already with 'Evil Dead II', so this is the second reboot. Major changes are afoot this time round as the comedy is out, kicked to the curb, Bruce Campbell's 'Ash' is also out, Raimi is replaced and of course the plot has been tinkered with slightly.
Apart from a few changes here and there the plot is basically the same. Group of young adults stay in a broken down old cabin in the depth of some creepy woods. One accidentally unleashes the evil demons that dwell within the woods and they are drawn into a bloody game of staying alive. Question is which character will be the new hero? or will there be one at all?.
So the big change here is of course the direction for the film as a whole, no more daft effects, no more goofy moments of schlock, no more slapstick...its all very serious. Does this change please a fan like me? well yes and no. I adored the comedy aspect of the original errr...sequels, horror comedy is a fantastic genre that seems to work so well. When I found out this aspect would be taken away I was disappointed and worried, Evil Dead is horror comedy much like 'An American Werewolf in London'. I won't beat around the bush, this film does work in a serious manner, and I was surprised truth be told. That said I'm not sure I liked it outright.
Thing is why do this? the original films are classic and I'm sure another sequel would have been terrific and much anticipated. Now we know they are doing 'Army of Darkness 2' (aka Evil Dead 4) so again I must ask, why do this?. The serious switch does work but it does come across as unoriginal in terms of visuals...and yes I know you must expect that with a remake. What I mean is the glossy, slick, shiny, sharp visuals just don't fit this franchise in my view. The gore effects are excellent and do enhance the film no doubt but it just looked like many other previous big name reboots (you know the ones). That is what set the franchise apart, the shoddy tacky visuals, without them it loses its appeal somewhat and just falls in line with every other gore/torture porn horror flick.
A good example would be at the start when the group enters the cabin and discovers the basement full of hanging dead animals. This whole intro sequence just felt like a complete rip off from various films like 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', the sequence just made me think I've seen this before, I've been here before, why is this in here?.
I know this debate is kinda old now but it is an important issue as a fan and I just can't ignore it. So yes the serious real horror approach is solid, but its not Evil Dead for me, it didn't feel right. On the whole the film does look good and it is recognisable, as said the gore effects are very good, but why lose that classic Raimi demonic look?. The new CGI (?) eyes on the possessed characters looked awful, like something outta 'Lord of the Rings', it wasn't anywhere near as eerie as the all white eyes previously.
I also thought there were a bit too many self mutilations going on, I don't think the possessed really needed to do that, it felt cheap, easy shock tactics. I much preferred the full mask type look in the previous films where characters tended to look more like mutant witches. There were some really nice moments of looming dread though, some moments where you really did wonder how on earth the living characters would get outta this pickle. Some of the undead attacks were nasty, the syringe attack was a particularly wincing little sequence as was the nail gun sequence. I gotta admit I was never really sure which of the characters (if any) would make it to the end and be our new Ash...or equivalent of sorts (although I did suspect a gender change naturally).
Some things didn't add up to me either. It is said you can free someone from possession by killing them, this tends to indicate that a dead body can't be possessed or simply isn't for whatever reason. Yet one dead character is possessed which felt like a contradiction. This leads me to the fact they bury one character 'alive' (or while possessed) to 'kill' her so the demon leaves her body. But these possessed bodies seem pretty invincible when a demon inhabits them, bullets, knives, boiling water etc...doesn't stop them, so why would simply burying them do it?. Lastly, the small sequence where the last male character has his little A-Team moment and builds a defibrillator from odd bits and bobs hanging around to revive a dead character. Yeah its possible I'm sure and he could have the medical knowledge but it just seemed a bit too far at the time. Of all the madness and gore splattering going on that was one moment that just felt too silly to me.
I can't leave it at that though, the ending was an anti climax in my opinion. I read about the chainsaw ending and how it was suppose to be an awesome rock show of body chopping and blood. So as we loomed up to it I was thinking lots of demons popping up for a good chainsaw battle, a huge alpha demon?, maybe going down the crazy ass classic route a bit just for the crossover possibilities...no. The finale was average at best, the big 'Abomination' was a damp squib and was easily dispatched with the whirring chainsaw of death.
So its very 50/50 for me, I liked the new approach, it is a good film, but it just didn't really feel like Evil Dead to me. I knew what to expect and I knew there would be modern day cliches and idea ripping (as usual) and I got exactly that. A good horror film in its own right, one of the better remakes for sure, but its not The Evil Dead even though I knew it wasn't meant to be exactly the same, its still hard to accept it with the same title.
They don't half go overboard with the hand chopping though. I know its obviously a homage to the sequels but sheesh! take it easy guys, no need to cram the fact down our throats, we get it.
Stay to the very end of the credits for a kick ass surprise.
You know this idea had to come along at some point. Take the basic… MoreYou know this idea had to come along at some point. Take the basic action premise of various spy flicks like Bond 'Mission: Impossible' and 'True Lies', then make the main characters retired old agents, super spy pensioners.
The plot is pretty much like any other flick in this genre, corruption that leads all the way up to the top, assassinations, intrigue and cover ups. Its Bruce Willis and his ex-team members who have been targeted by the CIA for termination due to previous unearthed information. So its up to them to get to the bottom of the it and uncover...errr the cover up.
The film is yet another comic book adaptation of another comic I've never heard of so I can't compare. A lavish cast from top to bottom because its a big Hollywood production, thusly the visuals and action are also lavish as hell. Now whether or not this is a good thing I'm not sure, I don't know how accurate this is to the comic book firstly and secondly I think it can take away from the whole experience because its too 'Hollywood-ish.'
There's nothing wrong with a glossy action thriller but they do tend to look the same. You don't really feel invested in the story because its all so neat, clean and shiny, there's no grit, no real sense of danger, all the cast are dolled up in layers of obvious makeup (Mirren) and you know no one of any real importance is gonna die and if they do chances are they will come back in the sequel.
That being said I can't deny this film is a reasonably fun ride with semi decent action sequences that all do look quite comic book-esque. The sharp visuals do give it a certain bold colourful style that comes across as quirky but with some dark undertones. I do like how the film is violent to a degree, its not a blood bath but you do see bullet hits, injuries and plenty of death...yet it seems to get tamer towards the end methinks. My best description would be akin to 'Kick-Ass' but not as violent and without the profanity. It is quite fun to see older action heroes taking out elite hit squads, the sight of Helen Mirren using a massive tripod mounted anti tank machine gun in a ball gown was quite funny.
It is all very predictable to be honest, this ain't no Bourne plot folks, did you really think Willis would lose his damsel in distress?. Some good action sequences, amusing dialog mainly coming from Malkovich who was the best character by far and a really good fight between Urban and Willis amazingly. The very end sequence unfortunately is too daft and comes across more like a Monty Python moment rather than a top action flick. For people like myself who don't know anything about the comic book the hook is old folk as super spies which is admittedly fun, apart from that is basically business as usual with nothing too ground breaking going on.
Whoa never knew this was adapted from a graphic novel, whether that… MoreWhoa never knew this was adapted from a graphic novel, whether that work is any good I don't know (obviously) so I can't compare here. The main carrot on the stick here is...I don't know if there is one, so I guess its the team up of Washington and Wahlberg. Yep its another buddy action flick but this time one guy is undercover DEA and the other is an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer.
So that's the main surprise up front, you'd half expect this to be a straight up crime thriller with two lowdown criminals double crossing each other amidst much dark humour. Either that or you'd expect this to be a straight up buddy cop action thriller with lots of rebellious anti rule book attitude...but you'd be wrong. Two undercover uniforms trying to knab the same bad guy by stealing money from him so they can do him for money laundering. Thing is the cash belongs to the CIA and they want it back by any means necessary. And at the same time the Navy wants the cash for its own purposes, or some dirty officers do anyway.
Yes its yet another double crossing twist filled plot with lots of characters and various sub plots which leaves you wondering who's gonna get shot by their so called partner next. What I did like about this film is the fact that its uniforms fighting against each other, Navy, CIA and DEA, with some standard issue drug dealers in for good measure. That's the only original idea on the plate, the rest is just a mess of your average factory line greed induced back stabbing which has been done to death now.
The main duo played by Washington and Wahlberg are a good combination no doubt, they work well together and play off each other surprisingly well despite their clash in styles. It does feel a bit off track at times with Wahlberg coming across like the type of character you'd expect to see in a film like this, a kind of '48 Hours' actioner. Where as Washington does at times feel a tad out of place, he's a good strong actor and almost feels too rigid for the role, too epic if you will, for such a quickfire thriller.
Twenty minutes in and I was bored, sorry but I was. Nothing really happens in the film other than a lot of snappy dialog which tries to be smarter than it really is. The films poster shows the highlight of the movie probably because there isn't anything else to brag about. Olmos does make a good Mexican drug dealer in that stereotypical type of way, the dude looks so damn cheesy its almost funny. Where as Paxton is trying way way too hard to be a memorable bad guy and failing embarrassingly. He isn't in the least bit threatening or intimidating much like everyone else in the film, its just all wind and no fart.
A disappointing film which I can't really call an action film as it has none, and I can't really call a thriller as...you guessed it, it has no thrills. The only thing it can offer is the odd scene with the main duo verbally kicking ass, mainly Wahlberg as he's the smart ass, apart from that its got nothing. Even the big finale shootout can't save this I'm afraid, seen it all before, move along.
Directed co-produced and starring the main man Bruce Campbell, judging… MoreDirected co-produced and starring the main man Bruce Campbell, judging by the title and the whole premise of the film would you say this is a vanity project?. Well I kinda think it is really and whether you actually like the film or not depends completely on your personal preference to Mr Campbell.
The plot is as old as the hills, a parody comedy on Campbell himself. BC plays an over the top unlikable version of himself, a big movie star fallen from grace and eking out an existence in B-movie trash, but not popular B-movie trash. He is brought to a small town to help them defeat a supernatural problem involving a Chinese demon. Of course everyone thinks BC is the brave hero he is in his movies, but alas he's a selfish coward.
The concept is nice but overused, it really is. The idea that Bruce plays a narcissistic big headed coward who is nothing like his film persona is also a nice idea...but again totally overused. The majority of this film is merely showing how much of an asshole Bruce's character is, mocking what he obviously goes through in his daily life with fanboys and movie producers plus parodying his schlock horror film career. So yes BC can have a laugh at himself it seems which is good but at the same time you do feel the whole thing is a tad of an ego trip. You may as well of called the film 'Bruce Campbell: The Ultimate B-Movie Action Hero'...as that's almost what its implying. Yep its probably true but really?.
The other thing is nothing really happens in the film, its not really very exciting or fun. Sure there is some decapitations and blood and the odd bit of amusing dialog but its really quite dull. Its not helped by the unadventurous sets and location which all seem so...not eerie. Its obviously meant to be along the lines of previous BC films with a low budget and cheesy effects, mocking the Evil Dead franchise mainly, but it just looks so bland. All you get is the odd swirl of mist here and there.
Then there is the demon, a big samurai demon even though he's suppose to be Chinese?. This guy looks like a ghostie from the Scooby Doo live action films! really he just looks lame. Yes again he's not meant to be a top of the range boogeyman with excellent makeup and costume but I just feel more could of been done to up the anti a bit. I mean it really does feel like a live action Scooby Doo flick half the time, could of at least had some more harsh language guys. It really feels like they wanted the project to be done by Raimi, but he didn't, so they tried their best to make it as close to that as possible.
The finale of the film does show us why everything does look as it does this is true, but I don't really like that twist honestly. Feels like a cop out when it could of been a straighter parody with BC being the douchebag and having a real adventure to cope with. In the end it just kinda feels like a waste of time with nothing much happening and another cult franchise for Campbell to lap up and take all the glory with. I do like the guy but this film just feels too self indulgent for me truth be told, regurgitating all his best one liners over and over. I know that's part of the parody but it feels excessive. Could of been a great spooky comedy but its very tepid at best.
I remember very clearly when I saw this film on the shelves at my… MoreI remember very clearly when I saw this film on the shelves at my local videoshop all those years ago. The films poster/art cover looked a bit scruffy, there was only one lone copy and I recall thinking to myself what tacky, cheesy B-movie guff it looked like. It kinda looked like a grotty seedy rip off of 'Willow'.
Following straight on from 'Evil Dead II' we now find 'Ash' in medieval times, an age of knights and Kings...for some reason. Yep Ash crash lands in 1300 AD which I'm guessing is in our past? not an alternative dimension or anything I presume?. Not overly sure about that one as it clearly isn't the rolling hills of merry olde England, although the King or Lord is called Arthur but that's not the King Arthur, so perhaps an alternate Arthur or maybe just a less heard about Arthur. The time period isn't accurate either or even close but maybe I'm just delving a little too deep here.
Of course the main reason why the land looks as it does is probably down to the fact Raimi and co couldn't afford to actually go to England and film there...if its suppose to be medieval England that is. This leads me to my first tiny issue I have with this film, the era/setting and visual effects used. I do like the setting ideas and the dark middle ages type approach but it also does tend to invite the cheapness to shine through on occasion. The reason for this I think is because some of the film is in daylight and it just doesn't look as it should, its not dark obviously, not eerie or creepy...its errr daylight. It highlights the joins in the special effects as it were.
The other issue I had with the film was the fact it looked too cheap in places for me. We all know the film/franchise is suppose to be a low budget schlocky affair but over the course of the three films the budget got better and so should the effects to a degree. You look at 'Evil Dead II' and its cheesy as fuck, but the effects still have a great look about them in that classic 80's tradition, looks both good and bad at the same time. This film at times does look really really cheap, maybe a bit too cheap. The skeleton hordes at the end are just extras in basic costumes with plastic skeleton bits stuck on them, really didn't like that. A sequence where Ash is fighting skeleton warriors, the skeletons are clearly just being thrown at him one by one by crew members...actually it is a deliberately hilarious little moment.
Some of the effects are a sheer joy to watch, use of classic stop motion animation on some of the skeletons and a bit on Ash look terrific. Its just a shame all the skeletons couldn't be stop motion, a big stop motion battle at the end. Like the previous film effects are covered by every trick in the book, some glorious makeup jobs, masks and prosthetics alongside some ultra hammy bluescreen work on the mini Ash creations. Loved Evil Ash's design and makeup job, really top notch work there, when Ash splits in two is a brilliant sequence as we see the crazed delirious Ash running wildly through the misty moonlit night, loved the sets for most night scenes and the odd deadites we saw had that classic Raimi look about them, nice.
In this film Ash has also completely converted into a fully fledged iconic fantasy hero with his chainsaw hand and shotgun. The character has the look of a comic book character and is totally different to previous incarnations in the last two films. This is bolstered by the snappy dialog, quickfire quips, plenty of hero posing with the shotgun, a bit more muscle on show and the classic damsel in distress to save. I do like this aspect very much but at the same time I felt it got a little bit out of hand at times much like the overall comedy aspect.
'Gimme some sugar, baby'
There are moments where I really wince because its just too goofy, when Ash is getting some Three Stooges treatment from the skeletal hands coming up from their graves is one such example. Another is when Ash has two heads and we get more Three Stooges tomfoolery, was that really needed?. Also there are odd bits of dialog from the bad guys which have been edited in and are just too silly for me, that and some really hokey skeleton prop moments...yikes!.
Another discussion builder is the two ending sequences, which do you prefer?. Myself I'm not sure, I liked the apocalyptic ending but I don't really get how that is suppose to have happened. Its a bit of a Tim Burton 'Planet of the Apes' ending that one, makes no real sense. So I guess I must go with the cornball ending where Ash becomes or continues on as a one liner spewing, shotgun wielding demon/deadite slayer. I think that ending does fit more inline with the character and plot. All those cool one liners do feel very much like a precursor to 'Bubba Ho-Tep' if you ask me.
'Hail to the king, baby'
I tend to think of this film as a twisted Harryhausen flick, a dark surreal vision of his work, just a different spin. It is an oddity indeed, its not really horror, not scary at all, its outright fantasy really, much like 'Krull' 'The Beastmaster' or 'The Princess Bride'. The film is such a drastic move away from the original concepts of the first two films its quite unusual. I do like the film very much, its a great little dark bizarre fairytale of sorts but I just don't think it fits in with the Evil Dead franchise really, its so different from the first two. Great to get away from the cabin location of course, the grim medieval setting is fine and the dark humour is fine...I just feel a bit more gore, a little less slapstick and maybe a touch more jumpy in the horror department and it would have been perfect.