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REVIEW — EVIL DEAD

Evil Dead Poster

4.5 Out of 5

This is perhaps one of the most talked about horror movies to come along in sometime.  Even if you are not a fan of the original Evil Dead series chances are you definitely heard about this one.  Me being a huge fan was very nervous when they announced that a re-visioning of the original was in the works was it given to a first time director and film maker.

Now I know we all must start somewhere but I can’t imagine being given something that has this much of a following and are told to run with it.  If it fails it can sink your career, but if it rises, expect more work quickly.

Most of all know the story of Evil Dead by now.  Group of adults go to a cabin in the woods and there they find a strange book.  The book is opened and passages are read and thus releasing evil upon the group.  This time around we are actually given a reason as to why these said adults are arriving at the cabin.  They are there for an Mia’s(Jane Levy) intervention.  The cabin belonged to Mia and her brother David(Shiloh Fernandez) parents and it was a place they always used to come to up until their mother’ death.

Once there they find the cabin needs some cleaning up and it looks like someone broke into the place.  While searching they find dead cats hanging in the basement and that’s where the book is found.

Their friend Eric(Lou Taylor Pucci), who is a teacher, takes it upon himself to study the book which ultimately leads to the releasing of evil.

The first that is noticeable about the film is the tone.  The original series always had a campy, comedic fill to it but this re-visioning is pretty serious.  It takes itself seriously and definitely no punches are pulled.  That’s thanks to the wonderful direction of Fede Alvarez.

He is a first time film maker that had the daunting task of bringing this film to life and he pulls out all the stops.  He takes his time with scenes and lets things play out building the tension surrounding the group, which is rounded out by David’s girlfriend Natalie(Elizabeth Blackmore) and their doctor friend Olivia(Jessica Lucas).  The movie picks up the pace once the terror arrives and the blood starts to flow.

Alvarez also tips his hat to the original Evil Dead in how a couple of the scenes are shot and edited.  It was a real homage to the series and the audience clapped when these scenes arrived.  The only small place where Alvarez falters is with the pacing.  It gets a little uneven at times, most of which I think is because of the tight running time the movie has being just above 1 hour and 30 minutes.  If the movie was a bit longer Alvarez would have had a bit more time scenes to play out better.  Does this make this movie a bad movie?  Not in the least.

One thing that you have to give Alvarez props for is the use of practical gore effects.  Buckets of prop blood, prosthetic limbs, old school make up effects. The director did not want to use CG for these effects if it could be helped and that really pays off.

This film has a lot of very extreme, brutally gory scenes and is definitely not for the squeamish.  If you hate the site of blood and severed limbs you may want to bring a pillow or bury yourself if your partners shoulder.

Is the movie scary?  It had a very jump scares in it but it feels more terrifying that scary.  It’s not stuff that will haunt your dreams but there are scenes that will stay with you long after the curtains fall.

The acting in the movie passes the grade with all the actors hitting their marks, giving honest performances.  The character David could have used a bit more life, he seemed a little bored through out the movie, other than that they were fine.   Fans of Suburgatory will notice Jane Levy(Mia) as the daughter from the hit show.  She becomes a total freak show later in the movie.

Fans of the original and newcomers to the show should enjoy it thoroughly.  It definitely was one hell of a ride and I’m hoping Alvarez comes back to do a second one.  This version is a gore lover’s dream and makes for some pretty unsettling scenes.  It was originally given the NC-17 rating and was cut to get the hard R.  You will probably find once it gets out on Bluray/DVD that there will be the Uncut version along with the theatrical version.  We shall see.

Overall I give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5.  It’s definitely worth full price to see in the movie house and then to buy to add to ones movie collection.  If you are a fan of the original or just a fan of horror in general, go, run, rush to see this movie.  It’s American horror done right.  Till next time my friends.

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REVIEW – OZ GREAT AND POWERFUL

Oz Great and Powerful Poster

3.8 Out of 5

Now I have been a Wizard of Oz fans since I was little and read the Oz books.  The world really fascinated me and kept me interested all these years, as well as the 1939 version The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland.

These books and the movie really stand the test of time and give us all a world that we can get lost in.  A place of wonderment and the fantastical.

Jump 74 years later and we have Oz The Great and Powerful.  This time we learn the background of the man who would go to the land of Oz and become the great and powerful wizard that we all know.  His road is not one of kindness and caring but one of greed and self indulgence.  The man behind the curtain isn’t a nice man at all but one who only cares about one person in the world…himself.

Throughout this journey though he learns things about himself and the trip to Oz becomes a self discovery of sorts of Oscar as he is bestowed with the task of killing the Wicked Witch of the West and restoring faith and cheer to the merry ol’ land of Oz.

Is this the Oz movie we have been waiting for?  Is this movie great and powerful?  Well I thought it was a good start to refresh the franchise and Disney definitely is taking it in the right direction but I feel that it fell short of being a great Oz movie.

Such as prequels go it’s a starting point and for the most part, things work well enough through out the story.  Even though it runs just over 2 hours I actually felt the movie may have done better if it was actually a little longer and expanded on some of the backgrounds of the characters.  Instead we are thrown into their lives knowing very little about them and not getting enough time with them to know them as we should.

Directed by Sam Raimi, who gave us the ever popular Evil Dead series and the Spiderman trilogy, as well as others, takes us back to the world of Oz and really tries to engross us in the lives of the people from this far off land.  It is striking and everything looks absolutely stunning, especially the 3D, Raimi really used 3D well and it really shows in some scenes.  I feel though where he stumbles is slowing things down a bit.  The pacing I felt was a rushed, especially at the beginning.  It’s great that he did that section in B&W and in 4:3 ratio like the original but rushed it to get to Oz quicker.  Once in Oz we were zipped along from location to location with hardly a minute to catch our breath.   If Sam does the already greenlit sequel, which looks like he may not, I hope he takes time to let things unfold.

The score by Danny Elfman was well thought out and gave a whisper of the themes of yesteryear, but I wished they used less score during the opening moments. I  think that would have given more of a feel of a classic B&W movie than with the score always being booming in the back.

The acting was good, not great, a little over the top but got the job done.  James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, the man who will become Oz, and plays him with an over the top at times, charm that has evil undertones.  You know by the way he carries himself that he’s only there for one person and no one else.  Franco does look like he was having fun in the role and he grows on you throughout the movie.

Mila Kunis plays Theodora, a witch who isn’t on anyone’s side.  She just wants peace in Oz and everyone to live and be happy.  Her sister Evanora, played by the wonderful Rachel Weisz is a little more darker than Theodora and has a hard time believing that this man who showed up is the great wizard that has been prophesied about.  Michelle Williams takes on the role of Glinda the good witch and she’s the one that starts Oscar on the road of self discovery and makes him believe that even though he isn’t a wizard that with some help can over take the Wicked Witch and bring peace to Oz once more.

Two characters to take note of.  Finley, the flying monkey in the bellhop outfit and the china doll character really help carry the movie and will leave a lasting impression on you.  I felt that they were really well fleshed out and the most developed.

The visual effects were top notch and everything felt real and fantastical when you entered Oz.  They really did a great job making you believe you were actually in this magical place and nothing really looked out of place.  The 3D as I stated earlier was well used giving great depth to scenes and this was one of the first 3D movies I have seen that when something flew at your out of the screen it felt as if you needed to move out of the way.  I’m not one for 3D movies but the 3D in Oz worked extremely well.

Overall this movie I think is worth at least matinee prices.  If you are planning to pay full price then I would go for the regular version of the film than the 3D one.  The matinee pricing will help bring down the bill of the 3D movie.  It’s definitely a movie that should be experienced on the big screen for the first showing of it.  It really is a marvel to see on the big screen.  At that note that I feel the movie didn’t quite live up to the hype and expectation, but then again what prequels really do.  The main reason we do go to the movies though is to be entertained and this movie does that part well and makes for a good day out.

I give Oz the Great and Powerful 3.8 out of 5.  It could have gotten a 4 if the pacing was slowed down a bit and the makers gave the movie time to breathe.  Definitely a movie I will be picking up once it’s out on DVD/Bluray.  So if you haven’t gone out to see it yet, definitely see it in the big screen first at matinee prices.  Till next time my friends.