Somehow I’ve managed to see over half of Sam Raimi’s movies. He’s good at camp, not so great at anything else. Even his movies that I enjoy watching aren’t terribly good, and are more likely to have great scenes dropped in to an otherwise snoozer. I have yet to see a movie of his that was solid from beginning to end. At least the movies are never manipulative, so I have no ill-will towards the guy. Just wish he had more skill, as he’s got the occasional brilliant spark.
Spider-Man 2: I know this is considered by most to the best of the Spider-Man series. I think the plot is decent and Alfred Molina is pretty good as the bad guy, but something really rubbed me the wrong way. Spider-Man’s effects seem cheesy and over CGI’d, and I think I was beginning to loathe Peter Parker.
The Evil Dead: Raimi’s first full-length movie, it has a cult following but is really got nothing to make it stand out from every other gore-fest from the 70’s and 80’s, complete with gratuitous female nudity, gratuitous blood, and of course bad lighting, bad acting, and a recycled plot. Bruce Campbell’s character hasn’t evolved yet, and he’s just another actor here.
Spider-Man: I like the beginning of this movie, as we get the back story to Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man and I thought some of the special effects were done pretty well. But then the last-half is a CGI fest and I just really, really don’t care about any interaction between MaGuire and Dunst.
Oz the Great and Powerful: Even more of a disappointment than I was expecting. The story itself of how the wizard came to be is kind of interesting, and there’s a few shining moments. I think Rachel Weisz is pretty good, Mila Kunis is capable, and Bruce Campbell is fine. But there are too many uninspired performances. James Franco is never convincing as the wizard, Zach Braff plays a talking monkey, and all I could see the entire time was J.D. Finally, Michelle Williams is really flat as Glenda, and it made me long for the smirky charm of Billie Burke. The highlight of the movie is the China Girl, a tiny little doll played endearingly by Joey King (and by the animators). Not a big enough highlight to recommend anyone waste their time, though.
The Quick and the Dead: Cheesy western that isn’t western enough or cheesy enough. Sharon Stone is laughable as the lady avenger. But there’s a charm to this movie that makes it watchable. Gene Hackman and Leonardo DiCaprio (two competing gunslingers) help that quite a bit. The premise of the movie is that this town decides it has too many live people and holds a gunslinging tournament. I think this could have been better if written more like the Evil Dead movies; as it stands it tries to take itself seriously a few times and falls flat when it does.
Evil Dead II: The scene where Bruce Campbell gets his arm cut off might be the best of Raimi’s career, and possibly the best of Bruce Campbell’s career as well. Essentially a remake of the first movie, but instead of horror, it’s now a comedy, somewhat in the vein of The Cabin in the Woods, only not quite that polished or plotted out. It’s still cheaply made, but it has several hilarious moments, and it helped Campbell find what’s he’s really good at.
Army of Darkness: This…is my boomstick! The third movie in the Evil Dead series, it is now firmly placed in the comedy genre, as Campbell is set up for one quotable one-liner after another as he tries to blow up medieval zombies back to hell. The movie isn’t paced all that well, and it’s not as hilarious as the previous movie, but it’s an enormous guilty pleasure for me. Pure camp, through and through.
Other Sam Raimi Movies You May Have Seen
Drag Me To Hell
For Love of the Game
A Simple Plan