Plot: What’s it about?
Ash (Bruce Campbell) returns to the screen once again, in the third installment of the Evil Dead series. The evil force, which is heard but never seen, chased Ash from his restful cabin, and through a time warp, tossing him into the dark ages, complete with knights, alchemy, the whole nine yards. His car also makes the trip, which is cool. Ash is mistaken by a local group to be part of arrival army, and is shackled up like the rest of them, right alongside Henry The Red. They are led to a pit where one man is dropped in, an enough blood to fill a swimming pool showers out! Needless to say, Ash is hesitant about going in! But he does, and defeats the monsters within the pit, proving he is the “promised one.” Ash is forced to retrieve the Necronomicon. Or, to the layperson, The Book Of The Dead, which is inked in blood and bound in human flesh, to make it quite the sought after collector’s item. Of course he doesn’t want to get the book, but only within the book is the passage to send him back. Ash goofs up the magic words, and unleashed the dead onto these people. Will Ash stay to help them? Or will he back in S-Mart tagging sale items?
This movie is a horror/comedy classic, to be sure. There are so many great make up effects and gore gags, it’s hard to find a scene without one! It’s the combination of the two which make Army of Darkness so appealing, because the movie is so funny and bloody, it’s hard to take it seriously. And to take this seriously would be a mistake, because this movie is sheer satire, opening credits to closing credits. This slapstick approach to humor is immensely entertaining, to say the least. This is one of the movies I watch when I need a good laugh. But don’t get this expecting a straight forward horror flick, because you’ll disappointed here. While there are elements of horror, most of Army of Darkness relies on the sharp tongue of Ash and the interactions between him and the others. It may seem boring to focus so much on one guy, but Ash is no normal guy. He’s sick and tired of dead people giving him hassles, and he kicks some tail in this movie. This high definition release lacks the director’s cut and the wealth of supplements from the DVD editions, but packs an impressive technical presentation. And since the movie itself matters more than some extras, I’d give the edge to this disc, which is recommended.
Directing is Sam Raimi, who also directs the original Evil Dead and the third film in the series Army of Darkness. Raimi’s work can be also be seen in For Love of the Game, A Simple Plan, Darkman, and The Quick and the Dead. The acting is decent on the whole and while this isn’t classical style in motion, the actors capture the tone and pace of the flick very well. Ash is such a likable character, and is played with mastery by Bruce Campbell (The Hudsucker Proxy), who plays Ash in all three Evil Dead films. Ash’s frequent turns into desperation are so funny to watch, as he goes from crying to laughing desperately to crying again. Ash is one of the true icons of the horror genre, and seems to get better with each film in the series. His over the top fight scenes are the highlight here, but he is terrific throughout. The cast also includes such talented workers as Embeth Davidtz (The Gingerbread Man, Mansfield Park), Timothy Patrick Quill (Next Of Kin, Hamburger Hill), Marcus Gilbert (Rambo III, Tv’s Dr. Who), Ian Abercrombie (The Lost World, Wild Wild West), Richard Grove (Point Break, Money Train), and Bridget Fonda (Jackie Brown, Single White Female).
Video: How does it look?
Army of Darkness is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I’ve never been that impressed with this movie’s visuals on home video, but this is a nice improvement over previous incarnations. Some scenes appear soft, but that is due to the lighting in most cases, which is inherent and unavoidable. Most of the movie looks quite sharp and well detailed, even more than on the HD-DVD release. The image offers a more refined visual presence, which is sure to delight fans. I found contrast to be excellent, while colors look as they should throughout. I’ve seen this movie countless times on numerous formats and without a doubt, this is the best looking home video edition around.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not to be outdone, this DTS HD 5.1 also makes sure it is the best the movie has been treated to. There are some moments of grand audio presence, such as the climactic final battle, which sounds fantastic here. Any scene with action benefits here though, so this is a much more potent soundtrack than before. The dialogue remains crystal clear however, so none of the one liners are lost in the shuffle here. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, a Spanish language track, and English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a brief featurette, an alternate end sequence, and the film’s trailer.