DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Army of Darkness - Blu-ray Review


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â"Alright, who's next? Who wants some?" With that classic phrase uttered from Bruce Campbell's lips, Raimi's stop-motion ode to all things Ray Harryhausen roars to supernatural life on home theatres everywhere, blowing the heads off of all the â"primitive screwheads" in his quest to return home. Unfortunately, standing in his way is a wicked army of Deadites sworn allegiance to protect the evil contained in the Necronomicon a book Ash must capture if he wishes to return home safely to the shopping aisle of S-Mart.

With the same swooping fluidity that marks Raimi's pre-Spider-Man material, Army of Darkness is (thus far) the capstone on his Evil Dead series. This time out though, Raimi trades in most of the gore and horror for more slapstick antics courtesy of Campbell's familiar mug. Campbell's one-liners zing and then zag giving audiences a glimpse at what would be the humor Jim Carey would bring on a weekly basis only a few years later on Mad TV.

Army fo DarknessUnfortunately, the departure from horror to slapstick goes a bit overboard only in the multi-Ash scenes - and enters into the realm of unfunny three Stooges antics. That is, until the real Ash saves it all with, â"Good. Bad. I'm the one with the gun" and blows his mirrored-self away.

While Army of Darkness has its source material in classic literature, namely Johnathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, one can see how influential this movie's dementia has been for other artisans with epic qualities in mind. For example, there's a book one of the fake Necronomicons - that feels a bit too Harry Potterish for its own good; it bites and it moves just like the books in Potter's wizard world. Is it possible that Rawlings stumbled across Raimi's movie in her research? It's probable. It also seems that the writers of Pirates of Caribbean borrowed the mini-Ash brigade in writing the scenes of Jack Sparrow's self-splitting madness in the third installment of that somewhat-forced â"trilogy". Humorously enough, fans of the sandal and sword epic will also find thematic commonalities in Ridley Scott's Gladiator albeit certainly not in tone.

The maddening drive of the music cues, composed once again by Joseph LoDuca (Evil Dead 2), are as grand and as cheesy as the movie itself. The cues are over the top and raucous and sound every bit as epic in scope as the movie projects itself to be. Still, one wonders what Danny Elfman's March of the Dead would have sounded like had Raimi kept up his partnership with Tim Burton's go-to maestro.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
3 Stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

While it's sweet to have Army of Darkness finally released on blu-ray, the Screwhead Edition (as its being dubbed by die-hards) is far from perfect. There is a shortage of supplemental material interviews only with the special effects artists and no deleted scenes. There's not even an introduction from Campbell or Raimi. The alternate ending is included for must-see fans of the whole Deadite dilemma Ash faces at the end, but that's old news. There simply is nothing new as a bonus feature to add to the mythos of the beloved Evil Dead franchise and that's this releases' weakness. Army of Darkness is a companion to Evil Dead 2 while not as brilliant as its successor - and far-removed from the tortured woods of The Evil Dead; however, to have something special in this release would have been appreciated... even a retrospective to whet the appetites of the legion of fans the film has accrued over the years. Alas, there is nothing but the movie itself... and that ain't so bad... in fact, it's pretty â"groovy."

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French.

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish: DTS 5.1 English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish: DTS 5.1

Supplements:

Commentary

  • None

Featurettes

  • Creating the Deadites (1080i, 21:29)

Deleted Scenes - alternate ending (480p, 4:42)

Trailer - Original Theatrical trailer (480p, 2:03)

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging. Universal's U-Control functionalityand BD-live connectivity.

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