The 314th review!
The original plan was to watch something as a family again. President Baby loves Batman so we turned on The Batman vs. Dracula. I figured it would be fine because it premiered on Cartoon Network, but I was wrong. The movie was a lot more intense than I thought it would be. Lincoln gave us a pretty clear sign he wasn't enjoying it. It was so sad we immediately turned it off and watched an episode of the still amazing Batman Animated Series before we went to bed. I may go back to TBvD this month (sans President Baby), but I still had a movie to pick. So, I stayed in the superhero lane and watched...
Let me start off by saying that I love Sam Raimi. With that out of the way, let's talk about this movie. Raimi had wanted to do a Batman or a The Shadow movie, but he couldn't get the rights, not to be deterred he wrote his own superhero story and turned that into a movie! Liam Neeson plays a scientist by the name of Peyton. He's working on a new synthetic skin to help burn victims. He's so close too. Everything works great but always falls apart right at 99 minutes.
Unfortunately for him, he and his girlfriend Julie, played by Frances McDormand, get caught up with a ruthless mobster's real estate development plans. In response they trash Peyton's lab, kill his assistant and leave him to get blown up. He survives though and when we see him next, he's in a hospital. After working on him, he's strapped in this revolving bed where the doctor explains, to relieve the constant pain his injuries would entail, they severed a nerve in his brain that's responsible for sending pain signals. So he can no longer feel pain, has super strength and on top of that, he's slowly going to lose his mind.
For the rest of the movie he is all about revenge. He's horribly burnt, but he can get around that because he can make any type of skin he wants so long as he has a picture. He just needs to get everything finished in 99 minutes or the skin breaks apart.
This movie is a wild ride. It's a Sam Raimi movie so you know it's going to be over the top. While watching I noticed some of his little camera shots and tricks that are always fun. I appreciate that about him, no matter what he's doing you can always tell something Raimi worked on. He has a very distinct style and instincts. This is as close to a comic book movie that's not originally a comic that you will ever find. It plays the premise incredibly straight and at no point is condescending towards or winks at the audience. There are, of course, the more crazy sequences and shots that Raimi is known for, but you can picture the exact frame in a comic book. It's a very good movie in a genre that took a long time for people to take seriously.
Originally, Raimi wanted Bruce Campbell to star, but the studios balked so Liam Neeson was cast in his first role in an action movie. Bruce does have a very small cameo at the end and you hear his scream when two people get tossed off high buildings. I had to rewind and make sure one of the henchmen wasn't him because after the Evil Dead movies and the TV show, I can recognize that scream from anywhere.
I have to talk about my favorite aspect of this movie. When your villain is a normal dude and your hero is superhuman, you have to be creative when putting together your final showdown. In this case, the baddie is a rich businessman who partnered with the mob. He's a thin dude who does not look imposing. So how do they make the battle interesting? Well, they have the final showdown like 30 floors up on a construction site. The baddie, before he got rich, used to work construction and loved being up there even when the wind was blowing like crazy.
That was an awesome touch! It is probably my favorite final showdown between a super and a random that I've ever seen and it didn't need a magical macguffin to depower the person. While the baddie is nimbly hopping from beam to beam, Peyton is wobbly and doing his best to keep his balance on the six-inch platform. It's brilliant and really makes you suspend your disbelief. I watch a lot of movies... clearly... and I've never see a final showdown be able to completely flip the power dynamic between the hero and the normal dude in such a believable and high stakes way.
8 Dr. Chainsaws!
An acid-scarred scientist seeks revenge on the gangsters who disfigured him.
Starring Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels