In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”



This is one of the best films of 2015.


The Good Dinosaur

A film that has some promising elements and which often seems as if it is on the verge of evolving into something wonderful but never…

Other Reviews
Review Archives

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…


Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Festivals & Awards Archives


Army Of Darkness


Sam Raimi's "Army of Darkness" is a goofy, hyperventilated send-up of horror films and medieval warfare, so action-packed it sometimes seems less like a movie than like a cardiovascular workout for its stars. It makes the dubious claim of being a sequel to Raimi's "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn" (1987), on the basis of a tenuous link: A cursed Book of the Dead found by the hero in that movie has sent him hurtling back through time to the Middle Ages, where this movie takes place. Uh-huh.

"Army of Darkness" stars Bruce Campbell, who also starred in the first two "Evil Dead" movies, and who looks like a square-jawed, muscular comic book hero. The movie itself looks storyboarded; one action sequence flows into another with only the briefest of pauses for elementary plot details.

Campbell plays Ash, who in real life works in a discount supermarket, but finds himself and his car deposited on a medieval battlefield, where before long Ash assumes leadership and leads his knights in warfare against an army of the dead. (There are more animated skeletons here than in any film since "Jason and the Argonauts.") The method of the film is simple. As many action and horror cliches as possible are trashed; the film does for medieval mythology and horror what "The Naked Gun" did for cops. Ash, you will recall, lost his left forearm in an earlier film, and has had the stump modified to act as a mounting for a chainsaw. He fires a shotgun with his right hand, and in case you're wondering how anyone could load a shotgun with a chainsaw, the answer is: It's not necessary, because the shotgun never needs loading.

Heads spin, body parts fly through the arm, geysers of blood shoot into the heavens, and Ash uses his old Chemistry 101 textbook to learn how to manufacture gunpowder, which is catapulted into the midst of the skeleton soldiers. Meanwhile, the beautiful Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) falls in love with Ash, during those interludes when she has not been magically transformed into a murderous harpy.

The special effects in "Army of Darkness" are ingenious and a lot of fun. The makeup is state of the art. So are the severed limbs, geysers of blood, etc. The movie isn't as funny or entertaining as "Evil Dead II," however, maybe because the comic approach seems recycled. Then again, the movie seems aimed at an audience of 14-year olds, who would have been 8 when "Evil Dead II" came out, so maybe this will all seem breathtakingly original.

Popular Blog Posts

Anton Ego and Jesse Eisenberg: some notes on the presumed objectivity of critics

Matt Zoller Seitz reviews and reflects upon Jesse Eisenberg's New Yorker piece about film critics.

Visual Pleasure and Voodoo Demographics: A Reflection on Women and Film

Critic Carrie Rickey traces the evolution of women on film and behind the camera over the course of her career writin...

Gender Issues: Nick Hornby’s Writing is Not the Problem

A response to Noah Gittell's piece on Nick Hornby.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus