Showing posts with label Sam Raimi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sam Raimi. Show all posts

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Six of the Best... First Films

Some film directors are able to maintain success over several decades and get bums on seats or haul awards for almost every film. A select few are able to do both. Whether successful or not, every director has to start somewhere. Steven Spielberg started promisingly with Duel in 1971 and Martin Scorsese’s debut Who’s That Knocking at My Door has its charms but neither film set the world alight. Some director’s though burst onto the scene with critically acclaimed works in what is their debut feature. With often minimal experience, little support and tight budgets, several directors have created debut films which astound audiences and critics alike. Here are Six of the Best…

1. Quentin Tarantino – Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Although he had shot the amateur My Best Friend’s Birthday in the mid to late 1980s, Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs was his first real feature. A dialogue driven heist movie, the film was a hit on its initial release and has since gained cult status. Many of the tropes that have come to define the director’s career are evident in the movie and a lot of people, including myself, still consider it amongst his best work. Its bold, violent approach set it apart from the action heavy thrillers of the time and an impeccably neat script not only impressed audiences but also the actor Harvey Keitel who liked it so much that he co-funded, produced and agreed to star in the movie. The direction is slightly more conventional than in his later work but is still recognisably ‘Tarantino’ with long, slow dialogue heavy scenes interspersed with frantic action and innovative camera movement. Reservoir Dogs was released independent of the major studios and as such it afforded the director the freedom rarely found in modern cinema to follow his ideas through to completion unmolested.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Evil Dead II

Released six years after The Evil Dead, the cult hit sequel Evil Dead II sees the hero of the first movie, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) back at the cabin in the woods with his girlfriend Linda. When a tape recording unleashes evil spirits and his girlfriend is first possessed and then dismembered, Ash is left alone to fight the evil and at times his own body until the daughter of the cabin’s Archaeologist previous inhabitant joins him in the battle against malevolence.

I saw the original Evil Dead for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it. It was intense, gruesome and funny and last week I was also impressed with the remake which while not so funny, was just as intense, much scarier and more gruesome than I could manage. Evil Dead II is different again from its predecessor in that it forgoes a lot of the traditional horror and indeed most of the scares, in favour of creating a hilarious and downright bonkers movie which is entertaining from start to finish.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Evil Dead

I always seem to prefix horror movie reviews with the same statement and here it is. I don’t really like horror movies. I don’t like to be scared and horror movies scare me. Now that’s out of the way I can spring a little surprise and say that watching The Evil Dead was just about as much fun as I can remember having with a movie, possibly ever. It’s fantastically gory and over the top as well as being hilariously and outrageously funny to boot. I watched the movie for two reasons. The first was to try and expand my cinematic viewing (horror is the only genre I generally avoid) and the second was to make sure I saw the original before the remake Evil Dead hits cinemas next month. I’m really glad that I saw this terrific movie before the remake.

The story will sound very familiar as the concept has been copied hundreds of times over the last thirty years but basically five college students head to a cabin in he woods for a break and things start going bump in the night. Shortly after arriving they discover some creepy looking items in the cellar which include a tape recorder on which a scientist documents strange goings on in the woods. What follows is an hour of gory, gruesome and genuinely mirthful slayings as the kids battle the demonic forces that lurk in the woods.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful is a film which feels like it’s snuck up on me. I was aware of its development and saw a billboard the other day but other than that it has had very little promotion for a $200 million movie. Still, while looking for something to watch at the cinema on a Friday night we found the movie was opening and risked a busy Friday screening to see the film blind. By blind, I mean without trailers and reviews etc. Not actually blind. That’s best saved for the Twilight movies.

Oz is based on the novels of L. Frank Baum and is a sequel of sorts to 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. The film is set in the same world and features many of the characters found in the MGM classic but is updated in tone and effects and focuses on the story of the Wizard of Oz – how he came to Oz and how he became who he was when Dorothy dropped in years later. The movie begins in beautiful monochrome black and white and 4:3 aspect ratio as we find ourselves in Kansas in 1905. The arrogant but charming circus magician Oz (James Franco) is having yet another disastrous appearance on stage and is booed off. Back in his caravan he spies a weightlifter coming for him after Oz interfered with his woman. Oz escapes aboard a hot air balloon and ends up in the eye of a tornado which transports him to the brightly coloured (and widescreen) Land of Oz. In Oz he meets the Witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) who asks for help in defeating the wicked Witch Glinda (Michelle Williams) in exchange for a place on the throne as King of Oz.

Friday, 22 June 2012

GB Posters Blog - Sam Raimi's Spider-Man

Elaine over at GB Posters asked me to write something about Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy in the build up to the release of The Amazing Spider-Man and below is a link to my piece.

You can read what I thought about each film in more detail by clicking on the links below.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 3

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Spider-Man 3

"Everybody needs help sometimes Peter, even Spider-Man"

The final part of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy finds Peter Parker finally enjoying life. Things are going well for him; he’s top of his class, closer than ever to MJ and still has time to fight crime as Spider-Man. If anything Peter has become over arrogant with his all round success and this comes back to bite him when an extra terrestrial parasite which amplifies the characteristics of its host attaches itself to Peter and turns his Spidey suit black. Now more cocky and arrogant than ever Peter has little time for MJ and they drift apart. At the same time an escaped criminal accidentally ends up in a particle accelerator filled with sand. The sand fuses with his body and turns him into the Sandman – Spider-Man’s latest nemesis.

This is generally regarded to be the worst of the Raimi Spider-Man films but personally I’d put it second, slightly ahead of Spider-Man While there is an enormous amount wrong with the film, I actually think that the story is the strongest of the three. I like how the film looks at Peter Parker’s psychological state and how the alien parasite is able to effect how and who he is. His relationship with Mary Jane becomes fractured after ending on a high in Spider-Man 2 and this creates plenty of drama and commotion. Add this to Harry’s ever growing disdain for Spider-Man and you have the makings of a decent plot. As a result of focussing more on Parker/Spider-Man’s turmoil, the villain characters suffer a little and the Sandman’s back-story is only briefly touched upon. Venom is only really seen in a few scenes as an arrogant up and comer before becoming a super villain.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Spider-Man 2

"I'm Spider-Man no more, no more"

Two years after his transformation into Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is struggling to balance the demands of being a super hero with a job and studying while these all impact on his personal life. His secret love Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) is now a big hit on Broadway but after the open ended conclusion to their relationship at the end of Spider-Man, the two have since drifted apart. Peter is writing a paper about the scientist Dr. Octavius (Alfred Molina) and goes to the unveiling of his latest experiment. Things go wrong though and Octavius becomes attached to four tentacle like instruments and becomes Dr. Octopus, a villain hell bent on completing his experiments, even if they destroy the whole city.  

If you read my review of Spider-Man then you’ll be aware of how bitterly disappointed I was with it. Thankfully Spider-Man 2 lived up to my memory and if anything exceeded it. The story is focussed on Peter Parker’s split lives and how he manages to cope with the responsibility of being Spider-Man. His relationship with Mary Jane is also at the centre and the will they/wont they or will they/can they nature of their relationship is played out in full. Peter’s relationship with other characters including his Aunt and friend Harry are also featured with the later continuing an obvious thread which leads to a third film.

Monday, 18 June 2012


"Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man"

A geeky high school kid, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is on a field trip to a genetics laboratory when he is bitten by a genetically engineered spider. Soon after he feels unwell but wakes up the next morning to discover that he is feeling better than ever, can see without his glasses and has new muscle tone in place of his once scrawny physique. Peter also discovers that his reactions are greatly heightened and that he is stronger and faster than ever before. After the untimely death of his Uncle, Peter decides to put his new found attributes to the test and adopts the moniker Spider-Man. This is just in time it seems as New York City comes under attack from The Green Goblin and only Spider-Man can stop him.

I saw this film ten years ago when it was first released and although I’ve never been into Comics, even I knew the Spider-Man origins story at that time. At the time I remember thinking that it was really good but after ten years I’ve changed my mind. Perhaps it is because the film has aged, maybe it’s because I’ve seen it before or maybe it’s just because it doesn’t match recent Comic book adaptations but this time around I was unimpressed.