Sam Raimi

Spider-man Movie Commentary

*sung to the tune of the original “Spider-Man” theme* Sam Raimi, Sam Raimi Does whatever a Raimi does Hear him talk about his flick It’s not Evil Dead, but it’s slick Okay, so I’m not good at rhymes, but that’s definitely what we’re listening to in this weeks’ Commentary Commentary, Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man. Other cast and crew members join in on the fun, but we’re more interested in what Mr. Raimi has to say. A director beloved by many, the announcement that he was directing this Summer blockbuster of all the Summer blockbusters he could have stepped into slapped smiles on the faces of millions. It even made us forget about James Cameron’s idea for the web-slinger. With the reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, hitting this week, just a few months over a decade later, it was time to crack open this DVD case and see what glorious insight Raimi and crew have to offer. And with reviews coming in for the newly released Spidey flick, it seems there might be more enjoyment in listening to people talk about a different version. We’re not saying it’s awful, but we’re hoping, praying that someone at Columbia Pictures gets Cameron on the line stat. The Amazing Spider-Man bashing aside, here are the 29 items we learned from this commentary for Spider-Man.

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Right around the time that the 67th poster of two stars leaning back to back hits theater lobbies is when the pessimism about modern one sheet design starts to creep in. Fortunately, there’s always a handful of excellent posters dotting the year to keep hope alive. Thank you, Oz the Great and Powerful poster, for keeping hope alive:

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Drinking Games

Today, Columbia Pictures is releasing the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man. In case you don’t want to spend $15 to $20 to see this movie in IMAX 3D, you could always rent the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man and watch it. Heck, the first hour of these films is virtually identical anyway. Ten years ago, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man broke box office records on its opening weekend, on the way to be one of the few movies to gross more than $400m in the United States. We’ll see if Andrew Garfield and Mark Webb can do that with their new movie. But in the meantime, have a few drinks with the older movie and see how it holds up.

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A large portion of The Amazing Spider-Man does not come off as a typical summer movie. Battling that lab coat-wearing Lizard aside, the heroics of Peter Parker’s life often take a backseat to his identity crisis. Director Marc Webb, as he told us, did not want to retell the origin of Spider-Man, as we already got that film ten years ago. No matter how much we all like to chuckle at the “untold story” tagline, Webb gives us good reason to reconsider why this is a new origin story: this is Peter Parker’s origin, not Spider-Man’s. The first hour of The Amazing Spider-Man takes its time to set up this new Peter Parker and the grounded world Webb aimed to capture. Tonally everything, including the giant green lizard who talks, Webb takes as seriously as he can. The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t realistic and gritty in the Nolan sense, but bares a key similarity in its dramatic grounding. Here’s what director Marc Webb had to say about the emotional chip Peter Parker carries on his shoulder, the wise-cracking teenage hero he saw while reading the comics, and why we’ve seen so much footage from his major tentpole release:

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The release of The Amazing Spider-Man this week has left some people scratching their heads. How can a movie that is billed as “The Untold Story” be so achingly repetitive? With the first hour of the film an alternate take on the first hour of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man from 2002, people have questioned the need to rehash essentially the same origin story of such a widely-known superhero. As reported in Latino Review, director Marc Webb insists the reboot was necessary. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.) He continues to say it was to introduce the world to a new Spider-Man and, more importantly, a new Peter Parker. (Spoiler: It really doesn’t.) Whether Webb was pressured by the studio for the redux origin or if he just wanted to not have to follow any of the Raimi canon, it seems silly to tread such familiar ground so soon. In 2002, Spider-Man continued the trend that X-Men started two years before, making superhero films profitable and possible in the big studio system. Since then, we’ve seen quite a few origin stories – from full-blown reboots of known characters as in Batman Begins to introduction of heroes who aren’t known much outside of comic book fans as in Iron Man. However, with The Man of Steel coming up next year and an obvious Batman reboot once The Dark Knight Rises finishes its run, who knows what Hollywood is going to do next?

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The Amazing Spider-Man

It was a kinder, simpler time back in January of 2010. Daybreakers and Youth in Revolt were both in theaters, New York City was asking people to eat less salt, and we were all about to find out the one-two punch that Sam Raimi was done with Spider-Man but Sony was not. It was the sort of news that reeked of corporate thinking – extending a franchise cash cow without the creative forces behind it; rebooting an unimaginably familiar character just five years after his last outing; and deciding to do all that on a dime. Optimism pointed to characters like James Bond getting new actors, but this was that rare time where a character introduced to us was being re-introduced to us, and the announcement was, admittedly, a bit surreal. It won’t be revolutionary, but there are two ways, two chances for that reboot to change the ways that movies are made. Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man will have a lot of eyes on it these week, and a few of them will be watching it as an experiment instead of entertainment.

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Filmmaking Tips from The Coen Brothers

There are a lot of stories about colleagues and reporters asking Joel and Ethan Coen questions only to get the same exact answer from both (or to get one finishing the other’s sentence), so it seems at least plausible that they’d both agree on all these tips – no matter which brother they came from. Joel Coen got his start as an assistant editor on Fear No Evil and The Evil Dead. He and his brother then partnered for their first movie without the word “evil” in the title, Blood Simple., which rightly launched them to prominence where they’d go on to craft Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, countless other modern classics and a trophy case for all their awards. All of this fulfilled a childhood dream of making movies that started with a Super 8 camera and a hobby of remaking what they saw on television. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from two young masters who think exactly alike.

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The girl with the eyebrows won’t be playing the man with the chin. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “scheduling issues” (which they also put in quotation marks) have forced Lily Collins to back away from taking the lead role in the remake of Evil Dead being produced by Sam Raimi and directed by Fede Alvarez. On the one hand, this is good news. On the other, it seems likely that the production team is still trying to make the film about a young drug addict trying to get clean when bad people with melting faces start biting at her. Why they’re moving so far away from the original concept is unknown, and whether or not the finished product will even resemble the original movie is also unclear. The real victim here? Alvarez – who has the impossible task of recreating a cult phenomenon. Too much to the right, and he’ll have a bland retread with no outside appeal. Too much to the left, and he’ll piss off fans. If he teeters both ways, he might fall off the tightrope altogether. Can’t we just pop in the discs in our Book of the Dead Box Set and forget about all this?

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Get ready to cringe, people who hate the idea of remakes, reimaginings, and redos, the latest news about the Evil Dead remake is a doozy. Anybody who is a fan of the original Evil Dead movies, or any of Sam Raimi’s work in general, knows the name Bruce Campbell. He of big chin and cocky attitude is such a strong personality, such a big screen presence, that finding somebody to replace him in his iconic, fame-making role as Ash was probably the biggest hurdle that this remake had in front of it. How many young actors can you think of out there that could feasibly replace Bruce Campbell and not make it seem like a total letdown when he chops his hand off? I can’t think of many. Maybe Paul Dano would have been fun, just for the overacting. Well, instead of dealing with this problem head-on and trying to find the perfect person to play the new Ash, it looks like the creative minds behind this new Evil Dead are throwing us a curveball. In this movie, the main character is no longer Ash. Ash is now Mia, and the role is going might be played by…Lily Collins. I know what you’re asking yourself right now, you’re asking yourself, “Who the heck is Lily Collins?” I know, I had the same reaction. Well, she’s a young actress who was not only in the movie Priest (did anyone go see that one?), but she was also the daughter in The […]

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It’s one thing when we’re talking about Alfred Hitchcock having a walk-through in every single one of his films, including one that exclusively takes place on a lifeboat (he appears in a newspaper ad for that one). Sure it’s eccentric but it’s not surprising because, well, they’re his films and he can appear in them as he pleases. What does strike me as weird is when a director shows up totally unexpected in someone else’s film. Usually there is a good reason – either they are producing the film or friends with the cast. However despite the later explanation, it’s still a bit jarring to see, say… the director of Kill Bill in an Adam Sandler comedy…

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Awesome Camera Rigs

It’s hard to get excited about something as technical as that thing that makes cameras not fall down on film sets, especially these days, when you can make a successful film without even going through the effort of picking up a camera at all. Even if you are shooting a live action film, thanks to the realism of CGI, computers are now able to put a lens wherever you need it to be – this is why I think we need to take a second to celebrate some of the hard working pieces of lightweight metal that were behind a few of the more bitchin’ shots out there. These rigs got the shot done, computers be damned!

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Since we all have a million dollars, our minds are almost always tuned to the day dream of what kind of movie we’d make with all that loose cash just lying around (since banks do nothing but lose things). Would it be a romantic horror film? Would it be a silent action film? Would we blow of all of it on lighting and forget the other elements of production design? Probably. Fortunately, we’ve all had a few filmmakers tread before us in using their million bucks with efficiency and artistry. In a world where Michael Bay needs 200 suitcases full of $1m, these directors made it happen with only one of those suitcases (or no suitcases at all), and they created a lasting legacy despite their lack of foldin’ money. If they can do it, why not us? Here are 8 great films made for under a million dollars that we can all learn from. (And if you enter our contest sponsored by Doritos, you might actually win that $1m you need for all those lights.)

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There is a giant maze of odd circumstances when it comes to re-making, re-imagining, sequelizing or prequelizing a beloved property. You get into situations where you’re making a “prequel” to a movie while sharing the same name as said movie (see: The Thing). You also fall into a weird zone where you have to keep enough of the DNA of a project to earn the name while making enough of it different to accommodate for new fans (see: every reboot ever). Then, you have the strange personnel situation where you’re remaking a fan-favorite film, but your lead actor from years past is both 1) still alive and 2) too old to reprise the character. So what do you do? Do you re-cast some poor schlub into a role he can never own? Do you scrap the character entirely and raise eyebrows? According to Bruce Campbell, it’s the latter. Shock Til You Drop was keen enough to find some tweets from Campbell responding to the Ash Question looming over The Evil Dead remake. “No Ash character currently,” was the straightforward message. It still seems to leave the door open for Ash to walk through, but as of now, it sounds like the production team is attempting to remake a movie without its main character. It’s just one of those weird choices that must be made when walking the tightrope of remakes, but they’re damned if they do or don’t. There is no right answer here, but for now, it looks like […]

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You never know. You just never know. I wonder if back in 1930, Universal Studios make up artist, Jack Pierce while constructing his “monster” make-up on actor Boris Karloff, had wondered if he was creating something transcendent. Something that would forever infuse itself into the western culture generation after generation, becoming the mental image that every brain would access when it heard the name “Frankenstein.” I bet he didn’t. I bet ol’ Jack had an assignment, did the best job that he could, collected his meager paycheck and was grateful to be working during the depression. Truly, that is the way it is. You never can tell what will connect with audiences. You just do the work, collect your salary, and thank God you are not pounding the pavement looking for your next job. Evil Dead II is one of those cult favorite films that so much of has been discussed and revealed through interviews, articles, supplemental videos on DVD’s, convention panels, etc., that I’m not sure what I can add to all of this information besides my individual view point. Forgive me if you’ve heard much of this information before; just know that what you are now reading is not being pushed through the filter of a reporter. I was there in Mark Shostrom’s South Pasadena studio. And although, again, I didn’t go to location in North Carolina, what I designed and sculpted at Mark’s would follow me to this day.

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J.K. Simmons is a worker, or as he calls it, a “journeyman actor.” The J.K. Simmonses of the world feature epic sized filmographies, even for an individual year. In 2009 alone, the actor appeared in 10 movies. Most were small parts, but 10 movies? He’s a busy man. One would think with that type of work ethic, Simmons would be an actor that cared more about the checks than the quality of the work. From speaking with the character actor, that didn’t seem to be the case. Simmons has, finally, got a starring role film under his belt — recently, anyway — that we can see. The Music Never Stopped (out now on DVD) is one of those small, non-cynical, heart-string yanking dramas. It’s a father/son story, so if you’re sucker for daddy issue movies, this one’s for you, kid. Here’s what actor J.K. Simmons had to say about appearing in nearly everything, being Jason Reitman‘s good luck charm, and naturally working off of Diablo Cody-isms:

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Like a Johnny Depp casting announcement for a Tim Burton movie, there’s no real surprise that Bruce Campbell is going to be in Sam Raimi‘s Oz: The Great and Powerful. The actor revealed as much through twitter on Thursday, stating: “I. Am. In. Oz. Sam Raimi refuses to tell me what character I will portray. Just know that the role is PIVOTAL.” That’s great news, especially for Campbell diehards, but his use of the word “pivotal,” (even in all caps!) should be taken with a huge chunk of salt. He made similar claims about his roles in the Spider-Man films, which turned out to little more than cameos, so don’t be surprised when he shows up as a man that sells Pivots to James Franco. But, who cares? It’s Bruce Campbell. Thus, it should be awesome.

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Hell is one of those things that’s up for individual interpretation. Some people believe it’s a real place full of fire and brimstone, or it’s all made up, or it’s a state of mind. Some people think it’s a Shia LaBeouf marathon from which you can never turn away. So, with Hell as a setting, Hollywood basically has a blank slate. They can go the Old Testament route, or they can get more existential with it, or something in-between. (Even Hollywood can’t do the Shia LaBeouf marathon option. No studio would fund that.) As such, here are seven films and their take on the place bad folks go when they die. (Obviously, this contains spoilers for the films listed.)

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Boiling Point

If you tried, you could probably find a bigger Evil Dead fan than me. It might take a little bit, but you could. I mean, I’ve got my three T-Shirts, my Necronomicon copies of the movies on DVD in addition to several other versions, including Blu-ray transfers, I’ve got my toys, books, comics, and video games too. So while I’ll never claim to be the biggest Evil Dead fan, I can say I’m a pretty big one. For years I’ve waited on a continuation to the story. I remember my first experiencing watching the original movie at a sleepover. It was Steve’s house, but he fell asleep early after playing too much Command & Conquer. Only me and Matt were awake and he, no joke, got a boner from the tree rape scene. There was always something off about Matt. But it wasn’t long after that I found the second. I remember Army of Darkness in theaters. Everything Bruce Campbell wrote or said about the franchise, I ate up. Waiting to hear about Evil Dead 4. When talk turned to a remake instead of a continuation, I was upset but hopeful. Maybe Campbell would be in it. Maybe they would cast Seann William Scott and that wouldn’t be all that bad, would it? Now we have firm news that the Evil Dead reboot is moving forward – time to praise the lord? Hardly. What we know sucks and here’s why.

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After years and years of talk about a fourth film or a remake treatment for The Evil Dead, Raimi and the brass have finally gone with the latter route. While I know some of you cringe at the idea of this remake, like at most of the “who cares?” weekly remake announcements, I’m sure the news of Diablo Cody reworking the script has made all of you go from cringing to sharpening your pitchforks. Not a surprise.

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Late last night a lot of questions got raised about a new Evil Dead movie. There were reports that a new one was going into production, conflicting reports that Sam Raimi was just casting for his upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful, and then confirmation from Bruce Campbell that a remake was ready to happen. This morning Bloody Disgusting was able to clear things up quite a bit by reporting that Raimi does indeed have a “quasi-remake” of The Evil Dead gearing up for production, but that he doesn’t intend on directing it himself. Instead the job is going to newcomer Fede Alvarez. Despite the fact that Bruce Campbell had the inside scoop on the project, there isn’t any word if he will have a role in the film or if they will be looking to cast all new actors. Given Campbell’s close relationship with Raimi, I don’t think that it’s a given that just because he knows about the project he will be in any significant way involved. That said, I think we can all agree that he better be. I would opine that a large reason Raimi’s first three films in this universe work is the screen presence of Campbell. Without him, you don’t have Ash, you just have some horror movie starring a dude.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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