Monday, July 29, 2013

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The Flash teaches one important thing...speed saves lives.  Interpret that however you want, kids!

Justice League:  The Flashpoint Paradox – 4 out of 5

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard Flashpoint was the latest animated film from DC was, “I haven’t read those issues in awhile…did my buddy ever return them?”  After that thought, I was all like, “Hell yeah, I can’t wait to watch it because I love DC’s animated movies.”  Then I thought, “What time is it?  I’m kinda hungry.”  Anyway, a lot was going through my mind when I thought about this movie.

Do you ever wonder if a bug hits The Flash while he's running if the bug instantly
travels through time?

Based on the Flashpoint series, The Flashpoint Paradox tells the tale where Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash—voiced by Justin Chambers) wakes up in a foreign world where his life isn’t what he knows it to be.  He never became The Flash, Batman is a gun-toting vigilante, Superman is nowhere to be seen, the Justice League doesn’t exist and the world is on the verge of Armageddon due to a war between Atlantis and the Amazons.  Now Barry must reclaim his powers and try and stop his arch nemesis; The Reverse-Flash (a.k.a Professor Zoom, a.k.a Eobard Thawne—voiced by C. Thomas Howell) and get the timeline back to the way it's suppose to be.

With sights like these when he runs, I'm sure Pink Floyd is on repeat on
The Flash's iPod.

And then a pair of ducks comes into play.

"Yes, Flash, my plan is evil...but just wait till the ducks get here."

I really dug the issues this story comes from because I love the idea of playing “What if…” with established heroes and universes I love, so I was a little excited to see this become adapted and even more excited that very little was changed from the pages.  Seriously, how fun is it to see Aquaman as a villain or seeing Batman as a gun-loving psychopath who sees killing a perp with a sense of “whatevs.”  Also, I finally got to see Grifter from Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S get the animated treatment.

This is Grifter...Grifter is awesome!

The story, like the comic, is awesome and fun and getting to see it put into animated form (and in animated form that does it justice) is pretty damn sweet.  Not to mention that a great cast of voice actors (both new and returning favorites) come in to bring life to these iconic heroes.  While Chambers doesn’t capture the wit and humor that, say, Michael Rosenbaum brought to the role of the faster than light hero, he does his job adequately.  This feature also gets to see the man who is the one true Batman; Kevin Conroy, come in to once again be The Dark Knight.  The point I’m making is that the voice acting in this film really captures the heart of the story from the pages.

Is seeing Batman with guns suppose to make my cry fear-tears?

The film also does a great job of bringing great action to the screen and really gives a feel for the real power of all the heroes and villains.  Like the comics, the action gets really dark and, often, gory so it tends to be a little shocking to someone who may not have seen or read the comic but, like I said before, I really like when comics do alternate timelines and/or realities because it allows the freedom to see the establish characters take on different roles and, sometimes, meet their grisly end in ways we never really get to see in the proper timeline.

For example, in the proper timeline, you don't get to see Superman look like
a person who is legally required to stay away from playgrounds.

My only real complaint I had about this adaptation is I didn’t dig some of the character designs.  For example, Aquaman looked ridiculous as he was clearly made entirely of shoulders but this complaint is minor and didn’t really toss me out of the film and leave me only wanted to enjoy the story in comic form.

"Somebody help me!  I can't scratch my back because of these shoulders!"

The only other aspect I didn’t care for was the fact that I felt the animation didn’t adequately show off the powers of The Flash.  Granted, a majority of the time I really got a sense of the speed Barry Allen is capable of but there were times when it was hard not to laugh when it looked like The Flash was running like he just sat on a cactus or was trying to hold in a dump while running.

The Flash's only weakness:  Mexican food.

Since I was a fan of the Flashpoint comics, I was really pleased with this animated version.  Sure, there were a couple of minor problems I had with it but they were never one of those deal-breakers that kills all entertainment value.  Justice League:  The Flashpoint Paradox was a nice, faithful adaptation that was incredibly entertaining and a nice opportunity to see The Flash star in his own animated film.

I’m a little disappointed by the lack of duck pairs though.

No, Movie.  A ring-less Green Lantern won't make up for the lack of ducks.

Pawn Shop Chronicles

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Yeah, there's going to be Pawn Stars jokes in this fact, it starts with one!  (oops, spoiler)

Pawn Shop Chronicles – 4 out of 5

I hope Chumlee is in this one!  (See, the disclaimer said there would Pawn Stars jokes!)

Wait, I’m being informed that it’s actually Pawn SHOP Chronicles

"I'll give you like 20 bucks for it..." (Okay, that's my last Pawn Stars joke.)

Pawn Stars Shop Chronicles is an anthology film that centers on a pawn shop owned and operated by Alton and Johnson (Vincent D’Onofrio and Chi McBride) and the stories that interconnect between other-worldly and eccentric characters (read that as Southerners) that spread across the film after they visit the shop to pawn their items. One story sees two white supremacist; Raw Dog (Paul Walker) and Randy (Kevin Rankin), try to rob the drug dealer Stanley (Norman Reedus) out of his hard, illegal work. Another story sees Richard (Matt Dillion) stumble upon his missing wife’s wedding ring in the shop and his journey to find her…only to discover she is being held captive by a sexual, abusive deviant played by Elijah Wood. Finally, we have the story of the wannabe Elvis impersonator (Brendan Fraser) who finds himself in a town that is straight out of The Twilight Zone and ends up making a deal with the Devil to turn himself from a slumming bum into the greatest performer since…well…Elvis.

I'm a little concerned that Elijah Wood is getting good at playing a crazy killer...

The movie is basically Tales from the Crypt with a blasphemous and redneck-y tone tossed in. Despite the fact that Fred Durst (yes, the man who nearly brought about the apocalypse with the band Limp Bizkit—I’m telling you, that band is mentioned in the Book of Revelations) acted as a producer for the film (and nearly directed it…now that is in the Bible), I actually found myself enjoying the film; despite the fact there isn’t a single redeeming character in the film.  Almost all bad deeds go unpunished and there isn’t a happy ending—or even happy event—throughout the entire running length.

Every road trip my girlfriend and I have been on has ended like this...
it's like they are filming my life, man!

In past reviews (like my ones for 21 & Over and Project X) I’ve complained about how the main characters are completely unlikeable and end up failing to be decent protagonists for the film and it may sound like I’m a hypocrite for saying that I liked this movie because all the characters in this film are kinda repugnant, deplorable and disgusting but these characters weren’t meant to be people you cared about or, unlike in the other films, even wanted to be around. For the most part, you’re not meant to like them. They’re awful, selfish, dishonorable wretches of human skin that lack morals and ethics…and that’s why they worked for me and why I found each and every one of their stories to be interesting when, in films like Project X, qualities like these made it impossible for me to want to watch the film or see the journey of characters. This movie doesn’t portray them as heroes or people to be emulated; instead, they are sad sacks of human filth caught in a really fucking strange world that makes their tales actually interesting to me. They felt more like a curiosity you were meant to observe rather than “some guys I want to party with.”

Thomas Jane makes a small (but memorable) appearance but I'm conflicted on whether
I should make a reference to The Punisher or Hung in this caption.

I mentioned before this film is pretty damn blasphemous—which, if you read some message boards and reviews online, ended up offending some people. This aspect didn’t bother me because it was something that made the film perversely captivating to me. Evil is the name of the game in all these stories as every character is doing awful things, uncovering terrible activities or, like with Fraser’s character, literally selling their soul to Beelzebub for a taste at material wealth. Hidden religious (both for and against it) images, themes and tones are tossed in the film, and done so at such a frequent pace, that it almost becomes a game where you try to find the imagery. This element only help sells the odd, alternate-universe feel the movie gives its locations as nothing feels real and, ultimately, gives the impression…well, like I said in the synopsis…like The Twilight Zone.

I think there's other things I would sell my soul for but to each their own.

I really like strange movies (so I watch a lot of Japanese films) because sometimes an escape from your typical linear story is refreshing and the oddities this movie throws at you was something I enjoyed. The locale for the film isn’t your normal (or as normal as it gets in the South) town. It seems to exist in a Purgatory-like reality. Rules about life and death—even commonly held ideas of what constitutes normal behavior—don’t play here and, when you throw in equally strange characters, it made for a film that I found myself quickly getting into.

A strange world where Paul Walker breaks out from his usual roles.

The film also had a terrific and eclectic cast. D’Onofrio and McBride did a great job acting as the glue and central support structure of the film as the pawn shop owners who come in contact with most of the players in the movie. Even more amazing was seeing Paul Walker forgo playing the pretty boy with perfect white teeth to play a brain-dead, racist country bumpkin junkie…and, surprisingly, he did it well! I honestly don’t think there was a role that wasn’t done decently in the film or done at a level that wasn’t working for the insane tone for the film. I really enjoyed Fraser as the down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator that really isn’t that good at impersonating The King and, I’m sorry to say ladies, but you don’t get to see Norman Reedus’ face and his part is really small. I guess you’ll have to keep watching The Walking Dead to get your Reedus fix…or follow him on Twitter (seriously, that guy tweets a lot!).

At this point, I say kill Daryl.  I wanna see if the ladies have the balls to go through
with the whole riot promise.

Pawn Shop Chronicles is one of those acquired taste films. Most likely you’re going to watch it and hate it because the characters are shitty people or you’re offended by the blasphemous imagery and themes or you’ll watch it and be like me and say it’s kind of interesting.  I really liked how each story, though not directly connected through the characters' interactions with each other, all tied together in some form like some kind of redneck domino effect. 

The trailer I watched for it stated it’s like a redneck Pulp Fiction but, after sitting through it myself, I think it’s more of a redneck Tales from the Crypt…only, unlike the show hosted by the Crypt Keeper, nobody in the film gets any form of comeuppance or learn their lesson.

The Conjuring

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! This movie leaves me wondering:  Is no isolated farmhouse with a history of unexplainable deaths free from demon hauntings?!?

The Conjuring – 4 out of 5

Horror films are a tricky thing. Very rarely do they get things right for me—and by “get things right,” I mean I rarely find them scary. It’s a hard genre because it’s quick to rest on its laurels and very little has been done to keep it fresh since it was created years ago and whenever they do find a new notch to fill in with some unheard of innovation, you end up seeing hundreds of films to follow that contain the exact same innovations and gimmicks; for example, the “found footage” horror sub-genre that now stinks up the world of scary movies. Sure, other genres have this problem but being scared is so much different than laughing at comedy, crying at drama or building an action-boner during an explosion/gun-firing action movie. Usually what scares you once may not work the next time and since I’ve been watching horror films since I was just a small child, I’ve pretty much seen it all in the world of fright films and find it incredibly difficult to have any reaction beyond fits of laughter. However, The Conjuring proved to be one of those rare films that actually spooked me.

**Warning:  This review may contain some light spoilers and combustible elements.  Keep open flames away.**

                                                                                                                      Warner Bros.
In fairness, the toy she is holding was horrifying before it became enchanted by a demon.

Based on a true story (which, in the world of movies, means 99% of it is utter bullshit), The Conjuring tells the story of a haunted farmhouse in the 1970s. The Perron family moves into what should be the home they live the rest of their lives together in but are quick to find that something is resting inside the walls that wants them dead. It starts with noises, smells, doors closing and clocks stopping but soon builds to truly horrific levels as the children start to see ghastly apparitions and the mother; Carolyn (Lili Taylor) starts to wake with bruises covering her skin and something wishing to share her body with her. Soon, the family seeks the help of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to help bust some ghosts. The Warrens soon become obsessed with the case and do everything they can to stop the horror before the demons that reside within the home start to claim its next victims.

                                                                                                                    Warner Bros.
"How about a little fire, Scarecr--um, ghosts?"

Like I said before, I found this movie to be incredibly scary and was all-around impressed with the film. Director James Wan (Saw) took the script and plastered it on the screen in a really horrific way that made each and every scare incredibly solid. Wan crafted a film that was more than just a collection of “jump sequences” like a “found footage” film would be and made something that had truly terrifying moments. Wan also knew exactly how to build tension to the point that often the build up was more terrifying than the payoff—but that isn’t to say the scare it culminated to wasn’t satisfying, he just knew how to get your heart-rate going.

                                                                                                                    Warner Bros.
Seriously, they didn't invent flashlights until much later in the 1970s.

Wan also knew how to properly utilize light, shadow and sound to not only create an atmosphere and tone that is a prime breeding ground for scares but actually utilize this breeding ground and not just let it go to waste like some horror flicks will do. The sound and music constantly pounded me with striking tones that expanded on the horror and terror visuals unfolding on the screen and the way Wan used shadows to create fright rather than use it to obscure the way other horror movies do was fantastic. So often this blend of visual and audio elements kept making my brain and eyes believe they were seeing something in the darkness that, in reality, probably wasn’t there and it made my goose bumps have goose bumps and threatened to make all the hairs on the back of my neck fire out of my pores like quills on a porcupine.

                                                                                                                    Warner Bros.
"Ah, this book isn't doing anything against the demon.  Quick, somebody get me
some self-published Twilight fan-fic!"

All the horrors that this film crafts were only solidified and given a feeling of authenticity thanks to unbelievably strong performances from the entire cast. Normally, I don’t find any role that Lili Taylor is in to be that great because I don’t find her very convincing as an actress but she was tremendous as the tormented Carolyn Perron. Ron Livingston was right there with Taylor, matching her beat for beat, as the confused and protective patriarch of the family and I can’t not mention the little girls making up the children in the Perron family. They really looked like a family being tortured by uglies from the other side and ended up making the film feel real. Their reactions never looked or felt over-the-top to me like I’m used to seeing in haunted house films and it only made the subject matter that much more frightening.

                                                                                                                     Warner Bros.
"Can we hurry this exorcism up?  I got a meeting with the Bobs soon..."

The real scene stealers of the film had to be Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) and Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) playing the real-life ghost hunters Lorraine and Ed Warren. There was real chemistry between these two that I could feel pouring off the screen and at no point did I look at them as Norma Bates and the Nite Owl ready to whip out some proton packs and a containment unit ready to blast some deadies back to hell. They really look and felt like the real people this film is based on…and this is coming from a guy who thinks paranormal researchers are just modern day snake-oil salesmen exploiting people’s beliefs in fairy tales (yes, I don’t believe in ghosts).

                                                                                                                      Warner Bros.
"Unless the ghoul is wearing a leisure suit, I'm afraid there's little we can do against it."

So often with movies that involve spectral hauntings or possessions, the third act always ends up being the point where the filmmakers say, “Who gives a fuck anymore, let’s go nuts,” and the train that is the film goes flying off the rails and crash lands into an area populated with the ridiculous and explodes in a ball of smoke, fire and a complete sense of "Did they really put that in the movie?" The Conjuring didn’t go this route. Even when the film gets to its epic climax where the demons are ready to unleash all their dark powers on the innocents in the house, the film still felt grounded and, thanks to Wan’s incredible pace he built, the wild and terrifying final battle with the darkness didn’t feel silly or out-of-place but felt similar to another popular, iconic horror film; The Exorcist—being that the production knew exactly what they were doing and didn’t let the film go flying off and out of control like a high-powered hose spraying poorly written plot points all over the place; rather, it looked like the chaos the demon was raging through the house look controlled and tight. The point I’m making is that even when the film looked nuts, it felt logical and it never got too crazy; once again keeping with the overall theme of authenticity and realism the film gave off.

                                                                                                                    Warner Bros.
"Goddammit, there's another person hanging themselves behind me, isn't there?"

While I may not buy into the idea that this movie is actually based on a true story, The Conjuring is one of the few times I’ve watched a horror movie about a tormented family by a demon that actually looked and felt real. The performances are extremely strong, the scares are perfectly crafted and the story moves at a great pace where it never drags and the scares only get better and stronger as the film progresses.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Wolverine

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! We have two Wolverine movies...when the hell are we getting our Deadpool movie?

The Wolverine - 4 out of 5

I’m not the biggest fan of Wolverine—don’t immediately jump down to the comment section to call me names, Reader Who Likes a Comic Character That I Don’t.  I used to be a big fan of the furry, fast-healing Canuck with adamantium claws, however, as time progressed, I became tired of the mutton-chopped mutant and his seemingly repetitive anti-hero ways.  I always found his history and backstory to be addictive and interesting but, around the time we finally learned about his true lineage, I just stopped caring about the guy.  That being said, I really, REALLY like Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the man who makes up ½ of the Fastball Special (yes, this move is a basic tag team maneuver in the world of comics but we all know there is one true Fastball Special and it involves two mutants that both have some metal running through them.)

The Wolverine takes place after the painfully bad X3 and it sees Wolvie trying to deal with the grief he is suffering after having to kill the woman he cares for most in this world (and also, I assume, trying to deal with the phony abs that were glued onto Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut).  Leaving the X-men behind, Logan finds his past catching up to him after a young officer he saved from the bombing of Nagasaki informs him that he can take his healing powers away from him and let him live a normal life.  Against his wishes, his healing factor is stolen from him and it couldn’t come at a worse time as he’s finds himself repeating history and protecting the life of the (now old) officer’s granddaughter.  Now Logan must risk everything—a problem he never faced before—to prove that he is a soldier at heart and no matter how hard he tries to run, he will never escape the duty his mutant powers have granted him.

                                                                                                             20th Century Fox
Thankfully they deleted the scene where Wolvie is trying to find the used panties
vending machines.

I wasn’t a fan of X-men Origins:  Wolverine—except for the fact that the opening of the film was really freakin’ awesome and I thought I was going to have to eat my words on my prediction that the film was going to suck big fat, hairy mutant balls…and then the rest of the film happened and I had to deal with shitty acting from a Black Eyed Pea, an awful script (but that’s mostly due to the writer’s strike), piss-poor special effects, Taylor Kitsch unable to keep a Cajun accent going for longer than two seconds as Gambit and the complete and utter rape of the beloved character of Deadpool.  Surprisingly, this film was so good it actually erased my unpleasant memories of that horrible movie…until I had to write about it, that is.

I’ll admit it’s a little unfair to compare the two films because The Wolverine isn’t actually intended to be a sequel to the previous one.  Instead, it’s meant to act as a stand-alone film that just so happens to have the little berserker in it—coincidentally, it is also Jackman’s sixth time he’s portrayed Wolverine and I just think that’s cool beans…and yes, I said cool beans.

                                                                                                              20th Century Fox
Here ya go, ladies...actually, even I'm really fucking impressed with that physique.

Despite growing out of my Wolverine fandom years ago, I really enjoyed this movie and found it to be a refreshing story that involves Logan.  Even though I stopped caring about the comic incarnation of this X-man, I still love the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine stories and those were heavily borrowed upon in order to create this story that sees the man with pointy hair head to Japan—honestly, some of Wolvie’s best books involved him there.  The best aspect about this movie is the fact that it wasn’t just Wolverine being typical Wolverine—you know, smoking cigars, drinking and shnicking the night away.  This was Wolverine at his most vulnerable.  He wasn’t the invincible badass who went into battle without a care in the world because his healing factor would take care of any injures, this was a Wolverine that actually realized he could die and that addition to the story made his character interesting and compelling to me and it’s been years since I’ve felt that towards the character.

All this is possible because Hugh Jackman is just that good as an actor.  Wolverine is the role that pretty much made him a star but in that time he has pretty much owned the character.  Jackman isn’t just playing the part, he is the part.  Imagine trying to see someone beside Robert Downing Jr. be Iron Man; that's how it is with Jackman and Wolverine.  And while it was nice in the past to see him goof around and squeal with delight whenever he said “bub” and brutally stabbed a person with his claws, it was even nicer to see the level of drama that Jackman could bring to the role as Wolvie is thrown into a situation that is incredibly foreign to him…and I’m not talking about the language barrier here, people.

                                                                                                              20th Century Fox he dancing?

This is the first X-title I’ve seen that truly felt like a story- and character-driven one.  While I won’t deny the awesomeness that is other X-titles like X2 and X-men:  First Class (I won’t acknowledge X3, I've already done enough of that by mentioning Juggernaut), The Wolverine was really about the mutant condition with Wolvie, so some audience members may find this change to be a boring one as the story and drama prove dominant over the action.  That isn’t to say this movie doesn’t have some killer action scenes though.

Even though the violent stuff is limited to small doses, the movie does have some awesome action sequences and amazingly entertaining and tight fight scenes.  From my perspective, the limited number of parts where Logan is slicing up Yakuza Red Shirts ended up making the scenes that much more entertaining because it never overloaded you with action.  It actually felt like the perfect blend to me.  You have a story that sees a vulnerable and lost Wolverine and killer action thrown in here and there to stop the drama from becoming monotonous…plus, that bullet train sequence is easily worth the price of admission.

                                                                                                              20th Century Fox
This action sequence is a perfect substitute for pure adrenaline injected directly into
your heart.

The only real complaint I had with the film was Svetlana Khodchenko as Viper.  Khodchenko was overacting the shit out of this role and anytime she came on the screen to chew on the scenery, she came off unbearably hammy and really cock-punch the dramatic tone the film was going for.  Thankfully, her role—while important to the story—was small and she is only giving a bare minimum of screen time, so her bad acting doesn’t destroy the film.  

                                                                                                              20th Century Fox
Her mutant power is the ability to constantly draw your eye to her mole.

When she is featured a lot in the film, she is easily overshadowed with the appearance of Silver Samurai and I really dug how they adapted that character to the film…plus, he was a part of one of those great action scenes this film gave us.

                                                                                                              20th Century Fox
Pictured:  Awesomely badass shit!

The Wolverine exceeded my expectations.  I walked into the theater feeling pretty much neutral to the movie—or, at the very least, expected something better than Origins—and I got a film that actually had a great story and a movie that did what no other X-film has done; made Wolverine bigger than just a shtick.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! You know your remake is in good hands when the creators of the original are involved and give it their Seal of Approval...and when Ashley J. Williams gives you a Seal of Approval, you know it's groovy!

Evil Dead (2013) – 4 out of 5

As hard as I try to be open minded with movies, I sometimes succumb to my knee-jerk, overly-emotional reaction to some of them. Usually this occurs with sequels (like why the holy jean short shorts do we need more Paranormal Activity or The Expendables movies?) but this happens more often with remakes and reboots. While I will always give in and give the film a shot, more often than not my first reaction is, “Why the fuck are they remaking that?” (Usually, while I stand with my hand out in front of me like I’m Jean-Luc Picard in that overdone meme—overdone meme? A bit of a redundant statement on my part there.)

I had that reaction when I first found out that rather than make another film following the adventures of S-mart’s best employee; Ash, Sam Raimi (the man who realized that the one thing missing from a Spider-man movie was having the hero cry for literally all three fucking films) decided to allow the movie to be remade. I was a little disappointed in this but not “let’s call some people ‘faggots’ on a message board” disappointed. Being skeptical, I patiently waited for the first trailer and I wasn’t too impressed when it arrived…until the Red Band extended trailer came out and I was falling all over myself to see it! It only helped matters when I went to see Ash himself; Bruce Campbell, at a Q&A and Army of Darkness screening in Milwaukee and he showed off the trailer and called anyone who complained about the remake to be a bunch of “whiny bitches.” At that point, I was more than sold and a little more than excited. Add to the fact that my girlfriend is a horror nerd; we went and saw it at the theaters and were MORE than pleased with the final product. So, needless to say, I was exploding with anticipation for it to arrive on Blu-Ray.

Raimi's only instruction for the remake:  Make sure to put my car in it.

Okay, enough with my B.S., it's time for the synopsis...

But first...fill in the blanks with what you think is going to happen next in this pic...
If you think she is going to create an ice sculpture, you are incredibly wrong.

Five friends decide to head out to a secluded cabin in the woods in order to help their friend Mia (Jane Levy) detox from her drug addiction (FINALLY, a reason to be in a creepy cabin in the woods without the cliché “let’s go on a shitty vacation” excuse...which I think was invented by the original The Evil Dead). In the cabin, they find evidence of a satanic ritual and one of the friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), discovers the Book of the Dead. Despite the book being bound in human flesh and closed shut with the help of barbed wire, Eric thinks it to be a good idea to peruse the book like it’s Chicken Soup for the Soul. Eric unknowingly unleashes the unholy beasts from the underworld and it quickly possesses the weakest member of the group; the recovering Mia. Now the evil must kill each in the cabin in order to fulfill a dark prophecy and unleash hell upon the world.

I think I may use that cabin to help detox from my addiction to love.

Let’s face it, the original films from Sam Raimi and starring the man who is clearly a god only on loan for us from the other side; Bruce Campbell, are cult classics. I’ll admit it; I’m a huge fan of the films. Once Raimi hit his perfect formula in the second film and went for the wacky, odd, frightening and hilarious romp that the Evil Dead series ended up becoming known for, he made something that has proven to stand the test of time. Who knew all this would come about because he and the rest of the crew of the original failed at making a horror film?

In fairness, if you are wearing those pedo-glasses in 2013 in a horror film, you
are pretty much destined to die in a horrible way.

A friend of mine stated, after I shared the Red Band trailer, that the film would suck because it lacked the humorous edge we’ve come to know from Ash’s adventures against the Deadites. However, sometimes people forget that the original The Evil Dead was intended to be a serious horror film. Ultimately, Raimi failed at that (although the failure comes more from being green than anything else) but it was in that failure that we received gold.  Sure the movie is awesome and it is filled with gory fun stuff but as far as horror films go, it really wasn't that scary. This remake, helmed by Fede Alvarez, would become the golden idol that Raimi and the others were trying to achieve back in 1981. Amazingly, Alvarez succeeded where Raimi failed and made an amazingly unsettling horror film that looked incredible…but also simultaneously respected the source material by paying homage to it while maintaining a film that could easily be its own and not a remake.

Way to go, Evil Dead.   You made the concept of chaining a woman in the cellar
scary and deviant.

Ostensibly, this film is not only a partial reboot but also is meant to act as a continuation of the original mythology (keep watching after the credits, is what I’m saying). Watching Alvarez take on Evil Dead this fact isn’t really that surprising because he took the tone of the original film and amped it up to 11 while making it his own at the same time …he even kept in the tree rape sequence—which, I’m not sure is a good thing or not.  Alvarez did some amazing camera work that cranked up the fright factor, reminded us of Raimi's classic with some fantastic POV shots and also ushered in sights and views that were unlike anything we've seen in this franchise; for example, when Mia first becomes possessed by the evil is a sight to behold as it proves that horror films are more than just cheap scares but real, raw stuff meant to terrorize and torment. 

Not only did Alvarez respect the source material, he was also respectful to the fans as he made a movie that is nearly impossible for an Evil Dead/Ash fan to not like. He knew what they wanted in their horror films and gave it to them. Even more impressive is the fact that they knew they could never have another character like Ash or have an actor even come close to the iconic portrayal from the man with the golden chin.  They didn’t even bother with having a character named or even remotely resembling Ash (the denim shirt the character of David is sporting doesn't count as being remotely like Ash). I can respect a director who isn’t quick to shit all over the source material.

And speaking of shitting all over...this picture has nothing to do with that
but I've now put the thought in your head that the stuff on her face is poop.

Even more amazing is the fact Diablo Cody was brought in to help "Americanize" the dialogue in the script and did so without the characters talking like nobody fucking talks in real life!
The real heart of this film is the gore. The gore effects are incredibly realistic and amazing to see. A lot of the film’s most brutal moments are insanely difficult to sit through—but difficult to sit through in the way you want your horror films to be. In fact, the major selling point for me was watching the possessed character of Mia lick the box cutter and slice her tongue in half. After my third time sitting through the film, it’s still hard to watch—but that’s what makes it awesome! It’s so rare that gore effects are so good they make my skin crawl and physically turn me into a tween girl flailing her arms wildly and making me recoil in disgust.

Oh, sweet peanut butter and jelly crackers...don't lick that thing again.

The gore is only heightened by awesomely outrageous and spine-tingling sound added to the film’s audio track. Loud bangs to accentuate the slamming of the cellar door, blazing sirens blended into the background to make your skeleton tear its way out of your flesh to try and escape to safety, ear-drum withering screams, shrieks and splatter of blood create an orgy for the old ear holes and only help in making this film a terrifying experience to sit through and a remake that is just as good (maybe better if you ignore the lack of Ash) than the original.

Thankfully, I haven't reached a point in my life where "chainsawing a motherfucker
in the face" is the only option left to me for problem solving...but there's still time.

All these great points would be moot if the cast couldn’t do their job but, thankfully, they could. While the story may suffer at points with your typical horror film fluff like having some characters who don’t get much screen time, attention or development and are basically there to up the body count, the film still does a great job with the majority of the cast as each and every character has (for the most part) their essential part to play and do so incredibly well. Especially Jane Levy as Mia who has a character that is not only a drug addict in detox but also is a demon taking over her body and a reluctant hero that kinda becomes a female version of Ash…only she doesn’t get comically beat up enough.  While the rest of the cast are no slouches in their own accord, Levy just does a tremendous job that can barely be summed up in words.

I made the same face when I heard about Michael Bay producing the
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot.

Evil Dead is more than just a reboot/remake/continuation of the iconic cult franchise. It is simply a really great horror film that is actually unsettling, disturbing and grotesque in ways that few horror flicks are able to accomplish in today's day and age. The original left an impact on the audience with the fact it was literally like no other horror film to date and this version from Alvarez successfully recreates that reaction with this 2013 version. Evil Dead is able to make the audience squirm (and me) as the gallons of blood splatter across the screen like the original did so many years ago. This movie is what a remake is suppose to be; a re-imagining of a cult classic brought forth to a new generation.