Film Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home (Columbia Pictures/Marvel Studios)

By: Jesse Striewski

Aside from Batman, Spider-Man has always been one of the few superhero characters that I don’t mind watching on screen. But as just a casual fan, these newer films with Tom Holland as the titular hero have been much harder to enjoy than the early 2000’s films starring Toby Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi.

I’ll try to sum up No Way Home (what’s with all of the “home” references in the title of every one of the Holland flicks, anyway?) as simplified as possible for fellow outsiders such as myself; Spider-Man/Peter Parker is basically hated by the world for the events in the last entry, Far From Home, and enlists the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to erase everyone’s memory of it. In doing so, it allows other previous foes from other dimensions into his world.

It does allow for some exciting moments, and it was interesting to see some of the actors and characters from the Raimi films appear on the big screen again, such as Maguire, Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, and Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus. But eventually it just became as clunky as all of the other ridiculous superhero films these days that I could care less about (like the Avengers or Wonder Woman), and the plot was far too similar to the 2018 animated feature Into the Spider-Verse. And I get there are people really into these movies, but it’s lost on me how they possibly maintain the time and energy to know all of the ins and outs of all these countless characters and storylines (I’d be exhausted if I tried).

I also made the mistake of taking my kid to see it in 3-D, which is the most absurd and shameless gimmick by Hollywood these days, and not only completely pointless for most films (such as this one), it has completely taken away any magic from the concept entirely. But look, it’s not that No Way Home is a bad film per se (it was still better than that new Matrix film, something so disappointing I elected not to even review it at all), it’s just not what someone like me is looking for from a Spider-Man movie. I think I’ll just stick to the simplicity of those old Raimi films next time I’m in the mood for one.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Retrospective: 40 Years Since we first Encountered ‘The Evil Dead’ By Jesse Striewski

If ever there were a “little horror film that could,” it’s Sam Raimi’s 1981 gorefest, The Evil Dead. It took years of sweat equity and hustling with investors/distributors, but after non-stop persistence, director/writer Raimi eventually saw his vision realized.

The Evil Dead began as a passion project in the truest sense; Raimi and producer Robert Tapert recruited friends Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss to star in his 1978 short film Within the Woods, which acted as a promo for potential investors. The gimmick slowly but surely worked, and the film finally saw a worldwide release on October 15, 1981.

The plot was as straight-to-the-point as it gets; five college-aged friends (lead by Campbell in his soon-to-be iconic role as Ash Williams) travel to a remote Tennessee cabin for some down time. There they discover the Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead, and quickly unleash a fury of demonic evil that consumes each and everyone of them one by one.

What ensues is an onslaught of stop-motion animation and practical effects so unseen up until that point that even horror master Stephen King himself became an early supporter of the film. Viewers are transported into a harrowing reality that never lets up until its eventual blood-soaked conclusion.

While only a modest hit at the time of its release, The Evil Dead would eventually spawn a franchise that continues until this day. Two direct sequels, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) continued the storyline of Ash with Campbell as the face of the dead before a reboot/sequel simply titled Evil Dead revived the series in 2013. Since then, Campbell has since reclaimed his rightful throne with the more comedy-driven series Ash vs. Evil Dead from 2015-18 .

But no matter where the series goes from here, nothing will ever top the rush brought on from popping a copy of the original film in the VCR in a shroud of darkness and experiencing the sheer thrill of it all for the first time. Thankfully, I’ve managed to hold on to my personal copy on VHS since high school, and can still do just that at any given time.