With the release of “The Quick and the Dead,” the passing of a great filmmaker occurs.
You see, the director of this film is Sam Raimi. Raimi’s career started with “The Evil Dead,” a low budget, gritty horror film. That was followed by one of the greatest films of all time, “The Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn.” After that, Raimi made “Darkman,” the inane third chapter in the “Evil Dead” series “Army of Darkness” and directed and produced a few others.
With each film, Raimi hit a new low in his career, but there was still hope that the genius director of the first two “Evil Dead” films would resurface. But now, with “The Quick and the Dead,” we can add Raimi to the list of indistinguishable directors who are responsible for most of the Hollywood flops out there.
If you have not seen “Evil Dead 2,” you should. The film is packed with nonstop slapstick, dark humor and wacky violence in the Three Stooges tradition. Nearly every element of the film is top-notch, and Raimi’s direction and Bruce Campbell’s acting stand out.
I could only find a few scenes reminiscent of the “Evil Dead” kind of humor and filmmaking style in “The Quick and the Dead.” The only proof that Raimi directed this movie is sparse: once, when a character casts an unrealistically long shadow; gunfights occur in a collage form; some dizzying camera work, and the way a character takes a bullet in the head. Other than that, this film was made with no artistic influence and is just another forgettable action movie.
The slim story has beautiful gunslinger-with-a-past named Ellen (Sharon Stone) showing up at some town in the Old West. There is a gunfighting contest taking place, and she enters it, along with the dictator of the town, a rich killer named John Herod (Gene Hackman).
Ellen has a years-old dispute with Herod that is not disclosed until the final scenes. Also entering the contest are several other colorful characters, most of whom will be shot and killed, and the whole film will come to a climax where many people are shot and killed. The End.
The characters are in no way believable for an instant. Making Sharon Stone into a believable gunfighter is an especially tough task, given her acting talents. And actually seeing her prance around in tight leather pants brandishing a gun is laughable.
Herod is the definitive cliche of the Evil Villain. He kills lawmen, burns orphanages, kills priests, kills his own men, extorts money and cheats. All of these traits don’t make him hateful, they make him more unbelievable.
Stone is, of course, dreadful, and Hackman makes due with what he has. The supporting actors are fair, except for Lance Henrickson, who is very good in his over-the-top portrayal of Ace Hanlon, a trick shooter.
The bad script, bad acting and uneventful direction, save a few scenes, make “The Quick and the Dead” a bad movie. Instead of blowing three or six bucks on this, rent “Evil Dead 2” instead. You won’t be let down.
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