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A remake to Sam Raimi's 1981 horror classic, The Evil Dead, is not just remaking the film that launched the director's career. It's following two sequels, video games, comic books, and the general icon status of the series' protagonist, Bruce Campbell as Ash, housewares. It's also coming up behind a slew of ripoffs, and let's not forget Cabin in the Woods just yet. But Evil Dead, the remake backed by Raimi's Ghost House Pictures, is more than ready to live up to the challenge, armed with a mean spirit, relentless intensity, and buckets of both practical and digital gore. It's enough to make a Candarian demon daddy proud. Read on!
Yo Joe...again! After Stephen Sommers' hokier-than-thou blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - even that title shrieks hokey - there wasn't much they could have done to turn fans off of a live-action, G.I. Joe franchise more. Thankfully, Hasbro and company took a different approach with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a follow-up that plays harder, faster, and a much more exciting game than its predecessor. It's no more intelligent, and any series coherency you might have been expecting from the first film is shot all to hell. But Retaliation aims to deliver some stylishly explosive action, something it does over and over again. Read on!
Olympus Has Fallen, the latest actioner from Antoine Fuqua, is touted as "Die Hard in the White House," the first of two similar films being released this. That would lead some to believe it's about a trained authority (in this case a Secret Service agent) going against a group of vicious terrorists who have taken 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hostage and that it would feature loads of exceptional action, colorful villains, and a charismatic ass-kicker equipped with guns and one-liners. The premise is there, but Olympus Has Fallen carries little else of value with it. It's enough to wish for Roland Emmerich's White House Down.
"Bikinis and booties, that's what it's all about," says James Franco as Alien, the trashy, gold-toothed drug dealer antagonist of Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers. He forgot about boobs, beaches, bake-offs, and bullets, but Korine sure hasn't. Spring Breakers is ultra-grimy and plays to the indecency of its characters, right up the writer/director's alley. For the first time, though, Korine has crafted an exceptional story of a trashy carnival of sex and violence and even allows his directing chops to come out and play. Not only his best film, Spring Breakers is superb in every booty-shaking, sweat-dripping, bullet-flying way.
A former Oscar winner tries to save the life of a former Oscar nominated darling from the clutches of a sadistic killer in the new thriller, The Call. With that kind of prestige, you might expect more than just a bargain-basement chiller with one interesting hook it rides for as long as possible, but you'd be wrong. The Call, directed by horror-veteran Brad Anderson and starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin, starts out a taut, no-wasted-motion thriller, working through every generic turn the genre has to offer with glee, but ends up a messy waste of everyone's time. It's not the kind of movie that warrants an Oscar...for anyone.
Sam Raimi, whether creating new and exciting worlds as in The Evil Dead series or adapting amazing icons like Spider-Man to the screen, has always found a way to effortlessly bring his own flairs to whatever story he was telling. So it comes as no surprise to hear that his take on Oz: The Great and Powerful, a semi-prequel to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz and adaptation of a couple of L. Frank Baum's timeless novels, is as much a Raimi film as it is an Oz film. Loaded with wondrous visuals and perfectly timed humor, a staple of noted director, the film transcends prequel status to give us an adaptation worth celebrating.
There appears to be a laziness to a movie with a title like The Last Exorcism Part II. Neither The Next-To-Last Exorcism nor The Really Last Exorcism would have worked, but titles that quirky might have fit better with the film we get. Loopy and weird the right doses, The Last Exorcism Part II takes a different path than its found-footage predecessor , setting aside shaky camera and people running through woods in favor of character development and a slow-build arc. Cheap scares aside, the film wins major points in the choices it makes, and an ending that delivers a stamp Paranormal Activity couldn't get to in four films.
Run Silent, Run Deep had Gable versus Lancaster. The Hunt for Red October had Connery versus Baldwin. Crimson Tide had Hackman versus Washington. There's a long history of two high-caliber actors going against one another in submarine movies. It usually involves a nuclear missile that may or may not be launched. Phantom, the latest of these, features Ed Harris versus David Duchovny, and while a law of diminishing returns is being felt in the overall trajectory of submarine movies, Phantom doesn't do the sub-genre any favors, delivering a plodding, often hokey thriller that only thrills on its fairly calm surface.
With the Paranormal Activity franchise and Sinister under his belt, producer Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions have taken low budget horror to new heights, delivering top-notch thrills with shoestring financing. There's a definite formula to these and other recent horror films, a formula that Blumehouse's latest, Dark Skies, follows to the letter. The twist here? It's a family being terrorized by aliens, not ghosts. And with no cliche left on the floor and little imagination, Dark Skies ends up an assembly line thriller, seemingly culled together from films that handled the alien abduction territory with much more success.
The year 2013 has been front-loaded with action. Four of The Expendables had films open. The Gangster Squad had fun with their Tommy Guns, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters blew the hell out of gigantic monsters, and Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty continue to blast away until the Oscars. But it's Dwayne Johnson, action superstar of 2013, with at four action films in four months (starting now), who brings 2013's opening to a close. Unfortunately, his movie is Snitch, a low-fuel, gear-grinding thriller that never begins to edge the excitement forward or twist the tension. It's a pretty blah way to kick-off spring.
Few would truly argue that Full Metal Jacket is the greatest film about the Vietnam War. Some would say Platoon. Others Apocalypse Now. But Stanley Kubrick and his war film from 1987 showed audiences the preparation for war as it was under the draft, hard conditions that broke men down into heartless, sometimes mindless, killers. The star of that film, actor Matthew Modine, has made an iPad App that serves as a behind-the-scenes look on how Full Metal Jacket got made and how Kubrick, one of the great filmmakers of all time (not arguably), pulled it together. You can download the app from the App Store now.
Long ago, NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) made a deal with some supernatural being. He would find himself in some hairy situations, in which he would get pretty banged up in the process of taking out villainous terrorists. But everything turns okay in the end. His home life is a shambles, but he’s a hero to most. This deal made for some classic action movies, the best action movies in a few cases, and the latest, A Good Day to Die Hard, is the blandest of them all, mediocre action wrapped around a John McClane family dramedy. It’s a sign the series has lost all its charm, and it’s time for John McClane to hit the trails.
Steven Soderbergh, the director who recently made you nervous to touch your hands to your face, is now scaring you from getting your prescriptions filled. Side Effects, his latest direction of a Scott Z. Burns screenplay - Burns also wrote Contagion - begins as a cautionary tale. "Be careful what your doctor prescribes and what it might do to you." But as the plots twists and turns reveal themselves, Side Effects reveals itself as a taut, alluring thriller. Though at times predictable, Soderbergh's direction transcends the film to something greater, a truly solid effort as the director's swan song, if you believe everything he says.
The '80s were a great time for unabashed action movies. Bullets flying left and right. Partners getting killed and the vengeance that ensues when our hero takes the law into his own hands. People from different sides of the tracks teaming up for the common good of taking out the real bad guys. Old schoolers Walter Hill and Sylvester Stallone remember this time well - fondly, I would guess - and attempt to bring it back with a bang in Bullet to the Head, Hill's first directorial effort since 2002. He's barely lost a step, and Bullet to the Head, jumbled as it is, ends up serving as a suitable return to the age of shameless action. More below!