Sam Raimi


1981
THE EVIL DEAD 91
[ review ]


1985
CRIMEWAVE 10
[ review ]


1987
EVIL DEAD II 84
[ review ]


1990
DARKMAN 93
[ review ]


1992
ARMY OF DARKNESS 92
[ review ]


1995
THE QUICK AND THE DEAD 79
[ review ]


1998
A SIMPLE PLAN 92
[ review ]


1999
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME 40
[ Raimi apparently really, really loves baseball, but that still doesn’t explain his selling himself out to direct this Kevin Costner romantic comedy. It’s actually not that bad. Costner’s charming enough, I like John C. Reilly as the catcher to his pitcher, Kelly Preston and Jena Malone are lovable… Still, this is a mostly forgettable, indistinctive Hollywood flick; Raimi can do better. ]


2000
THE GIFT 87
[ review ]


2002
SPIDER-MAN 85
[ review ]


2004
SPIDER-MAN 2 88
[ review ]


2007
SPIDER-MAN 3 91
[ For reasons I can’t comprehend, the advance buzz has been negative or mixed at best. Even the most positive reviewers seemed to agree that this was the lesser of the three Spidey flicks. WRONG! As far as I’m concerned at least, this is by a good margin the best of them. Sure, it’s a bit overstuffed and definitely over the top, but damn it if I didn’t love every moment of it. Love the opening titles, love the (re)introduction with the upbeat narration which suggests that everything’s finally gonna be OK for Peter Parker – as if! Still, it’s nice for awhile to see our favorite dork be happy. Then there’s MJ singing, Harry Osborn coming into his own as a super-villain (Hoverboard Goblin!), the arrival of the mysterious alien symbiote (which even gets its own POV shot later on, “Evil Dead”-style!), and then straight into Sandman’s origin (geek note: Sandman’s daughter is played by Perla Haney Jardine, aka B.B. Kiddo in “Kill Bill”). This movie wastes no time!

This third episode is non-stop action, emotion and wonder. Both the Sandman and the Venom special FX are astounding and all the fight sequences are the coolest they’ve ever been. This is also the funniest film in the series, with more priceless Daily Bugle scenes between Peter and J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson, Elizabeth Banks’ Betty Brant, Ted Raimi’s Hoffman, Bill Nunn’s Robbie Robertson and now competing photographer Eddie Brock, hilariously played by Topher Grace. It’s neat how he mirrors Peter Parker, and we also get sort of an equivalent of MJ in Gwen Stacy, played by the wonderful Bryce Dallas Howard. Plus there are the inevitable but always welcomed cameos from Stan Lee and Bruce Campbell. Yet, more than ever, these movies are carried by Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, who all shine here.

Thematically, this perfectly completes the previous outings. #1 was about choosing to be a hero, #2 was about considering the choice of not being a hero no more, and #3 is about being tempted to become an antihero, driven by pride and anger. Cue Peter Parker going all-black, goth/emo and shit! How they work three villains into this I’ll let you discover, but I’ll say that I personally thought that they made it work and that the storytelling was surprisingly fluid, if dense as hell. Some plot points are rushed or contrived (Harry’s flickering memory, the link between Sandman and Uncle Ben’s murder, the way the symbiote goes from Parker to Brock, etc.), but it’s ultimately fine in a comic book kind of way, and the climax is so spectacular that it’s hard to hold the circumstances that lead there against it. ]


2009
DRAG ME TO HELL 63
[ The idea of Sam Raimi putting Spidey aside to go back to making an old school B-movie full of cheap thrills, bodily fluids and cartoonish effects sounds awesome on paper. But when you see the result… I don’t know, man. The plot is pretty simple: a young woman, whose main concerns are making a good first impression on her in-laws and getting a promotion at the bank where she works, gets sidetracked by hallucinations and attacks from evil spirits after a disgusting old gipsy woman puts a curse on her. What follows is not so much scary as really silly and over the top, with lots of gross-out gags and freaky shit going on. It’s fun enough, but not nearly as much as the “Evil Dead” flicks were. Why? Well, for starters, Alison Lohman’s okay, but she’s certainly no Bruce Campbell. Then there’s this sense that Raimi is being self-indulgent and/or too overtly trying to give fans what they want. This kind of nasty little horror comedy is a young man’s game, and it benefits from being made on the cheap by an eager newcomer. Raimi is most definitely not at the same place he was back in 1981 (or 1987, or 1992), and that’s okay; Peter Jackson isn’t doing splatstick movies anymore either. Still, with all that being said, I still got a kick out of some of the most outrageous sequences, notably the séance scene with the talking goat (you’ll see!) and the very E.C. Comics-ending. ]

2013

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL