Army of Darkness
Reviewed by Alex Strickland
"Alright, you primitive screw-heads, listen up. . .see this? This. . . is a movie review! A 12-paragraph, 41 line, 600 word document. T-Gates top of the line. Thats right, this sweet baby was written in Sacramento, California. You can find it in the movie reviews department. It retails for about 500 k, has got an easy-to-read format, clever word-usage. . .and a nice punchline. You got that?!"
Army of Darkness, Sam Raimis third (and final?) installment in the Evil Dead Trilogy, moves even further away from its horror roots than its predecessor did. With Evil Dead 2, Raimi crafted a precarious balance of fright, gore, and humor - the perfect balance, some might say. Army of Darkness, however, seems more like a three-way cross between The Three Stooges, Jason and the Argonauts, and Mark Twains A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthurs Court. But you know what? It works beautifully.
Our hapless hero Ash, after seemingly dispelling evils forces in Evil Dead 2, finds himself transported to 13th century England - back to where it all began. It seems King Arthurs men, and all of England, is under the terror of a horde of demons known as deadites. Originally mistaken for one of Duke Henrys men, and therefore an enemy, he is later revealed as the prophecied savior who will retrieve the Necronomicon and help defeat the evil. But of course Ash, in his usual fumbling way, manages to screw things up, and awakes the Army of the Dead. What follows is a hilarious, highly-enjoyable, and action-packed (if slightly flawed) classic.
Bruce Campbell has got to be one of the hands-down coolest actors in cinema history, like Clint Eastwood or Humphrey Bogart. He takes the character of Ash, who really seems like a bumbling fool at times, and makes him an every day kind of guy we wish we could be - a witty, shotgun-toting, chainsaw-wielding, butt-kicking smart-ass. The sheer amount of great one-liners this film produces makes it hard to compare it to its precursor. Sure, in many ways Evil Dead 2 is superior, but its like ranking your children or something. Its just not very easy, or maybe even possible, to do.
Besides Campbells Ash, the acting is okay. Nothing too spectacular here, but no glaringly bad performances either. Rather average, I would say. Davidtz is alluring and likable as Ashs medieval love interest, and the rest of the performances, like Gilberts King Arthur, Abercrombies (Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld) Wiseman, or Groves Duke Henry are competent. Raimis direction and writing, combined with Bruces talents, are really what makes the movie, though. Raimi, ever since the first Evil Dead, has made a niche for himself with wild, inventive, but well-executed camera effects. Things like the "spirit in the woods" cam make an appearance here, along with other Raimi trademarks. The camerawork is never gratuitous or distracting; it just looks plain cool. Ill be interested to see what hes done with this summers live-action Spiderman film.
The special effects are hit and miss - the stop motion skeletons are great, but the puppets and creature suits sometimes fail to be very convincing. In fact, to create much of the skeleton warriors, Raimi enlisted extras dressed in rotting-skeleton like suits, which is rather distracting at times. Its nothing too bad, but sometimes it detracts from your enjoyment of the film. All in all, if youre looking for an enjoyable movie to laugh and have fun with, look no further than Army of Darkness; and if youre a fan of the first two its a must-see.
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