With its signature wacky camera movements and viciously snappy sensibilities, Sam Raimi is a director whose style is so distinctive and striking that when you walk into one of his films, you can almost immediately see who made it. And while super-stylistic filmmaking may put some people off, Raimi’s sincerity and ironic attitude towards filmmaking endears his work to a large number of critics.
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Over the course of his career, Raimi has had numerous highs and lows, with those highs being genre classics and other largely forgotten bits of B-movie media. Regardless, his work has received a lot of attention over the years.
It’s important to note that Metacritic, and by extension other review aggregates like Rotten Tomatoes, only have reviews from when they were initially released, and so The fast and the deadThe low rating is probably surprising to many Raimi fans who consider the film to be one of his best. The classic western setup, which involves revenge and duels, is seen through Raimi’s lens, and it’s a wonderfully twisted time.
Though it’s probably not surprising why the film received mixed reception when it first came out. The film was released during something of a brief western renaissance in the 90s, and the wacky tone and more ironic tone wasn’t exactly what people were looking for in the genre when more serious, grounded westerns likedo not forgive populate the cash register.
The third film in Raimi’s second most popular trilogy, it continues the adventures of Ash Williams as he is transported to the Middle Ages in an attempt to rid the world of the Necronomicon once and for all. The most overtly comedic of the bunch too, army of darkness is mostly a fun time with a man who blows up demons with a boomstick.
By leaning more into the comedic and wacky, Raimi probably ensured that Army of Darkness would forever be more popular with the public than with critics. While critics have never disliked it and over the years it has been re-rated as a solid, even great movie, it’s still seen as the weakest of the three. Evil Dead movies from most academia.
The amount of pressure Raimi and Sony had to deliver Spider Man 3 must have been huge. The first two films were critical successes and blockbusters, so expectations for the third film were sky high. But numerous behind-the-scenes issues, including interference in the studio, would eventually prove to be the killer.
Spider-Man 3 has its devoted fans, but has been widely seen for some time and still to some extent as a weak superhero movie. The movie still has some greatness to it, especially in the way Sandman handles, and its action sequences – clearly it’s the weakest of an otherwise fantastic series.
Mystical art, horror elements and weird multiverse shenanigans allowed Raimi to play and do literally anything he wanted, and to Multiverse of madness‘, it is arguably one of the most ‘Raimi’ films ever made. The camera pans and pans, there are so many zoom-ins, and it’s wonderfully spooky.
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Some criticized the reliance on previous MCU films for its story and found much of its character work to be weak, while other critics thought the film pushed the MCU forward in new, surprising ways and praised its willingness to do unexpected things with its story. Whatever your opinion, it’s clear that we’re going to be talking about Multiverse of Madness for a while.
‘Darkman’ – 65
Raimi’s prototype for all his superhero movies in the future, dark man is a rarity in the superhero genre – an original movie with an original hero. Darkman, a scientist left for dead seeking to gain superhuman strength at the expense of his sanity, is an ingenious creation and allows Liam Neeson to star in one of his earliest action roles.
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And while Darkman’s reception has been generally positive, it’s considerably less than Raimi’s other more acclaimed films, which is a shame, as it’s arguably one of his most wild and out there. It’s a must-see for superhero fans, and it’s one movie in its lineup begging for a sequel or some sort of franchise based on it.
‘The Evil Dead’ – 71
Raimi’s feature film debut The Evil Death is still one of the all-time greats when it comes to debuts. What it lacks in budget or studio help it has in creativity, fun and a sheer disregard for standard movie conventions. It’s bold on everything that makes cinema what it is and that makes it wholly unique in the pantheon of horror.
And while it’s certainly not for everyone, critics agreed it was a solid debut. Barring a few vocal detractors, the film remains a groundbreaking classic of the genre and one of the most influential horror films of all time.
‘Evil Dead II’ – 72
Making a sequel to a classic like The Evil Dead is already a risky move, but making one that doubles the camp and the comedy should be a death sentence. However, Sam Raimi is a great filmmaker, and Evil Dead II is considered not only better than its predecessor, but for some fans also Raimi’s best film across the board.
While it’s primarily a sequel, the true beauty of Evil Dead II is that it’s also partially a remake of the first movie, giving Raimi a chance to recreate that first movie with his newfound moviemaking experience. It’s hilarious, outrageous, wonderfully gory and a blast from start to finish, which makes it one of Raimi’s best.
‘Spider Man’ – 73
No one really knew if a Spider Man movie went to work. Superhero movies were in a bizarre period before this, with only a select few that were good and the ones that were good made major departures from their source material. A comedic, accurate Spider-Man movie was a big risk, and yet it paid off with Sam Raimi at the helm.
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Being a fan of the character himself probably contributed to this, as Raimi’s film exudes love for the source material both front and back. Though it falls back too often on the original story conventions, and the CGI was dated even for its time, the script is so perfect that it remains one of the best examples of an audience-friendly blockbuster in recent memory.
‘Drag Me To Hell’ – 83
After nearly a decade of Spider-Man movies, Raimi returned to the genre that made him famous: low budget horror. This time, however, he had the backing of a major studio willing to fund whatever he wanted, and he wholeheartedly delivered on that promise.
drag me to hell is so twisted, so wild, and so out there that it’s hard to put into words. It might be the meanest movie he’s ever made, but that’s part of the reason it’s so good and memorable. Critics seemed to agree, as it was hailed as a return for the director after Spider-Man 3’s mixed reception.
‘Spider Man 2’ – 83
Spider Man 2 had a ton to prove. Follow-ups are hard enough to make, but a sequel to one of the most successful movies of all time was even more monumental. And Spider-Man 2 is not only even better than the original by a significant margin, it’s widely regarded as one of the best superhero movies ever made.
Sam Raimi’s magnum opus, critics agreed that it was probably the best film he’d ever made, and the critical acclaim went out to audiences who also loved the film. It is still a popular entry for the majority of Spidey fans and remains a template for other superhero movies in the MCU, DCEU and beyond.
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