Note: This edition of "Army Of Darkness" is yet another edition of the film from Anchor Bay that doesn't provide any new features that weren't on a previous "director's cut" DVD edition. As such, much of this review will remain the same, with only a few areas that have been re-written.
"Army Of Darkness" is a classic horror comedy, the 3rd in the "Evil Dead" series, starring Bruce Campbell and directed by Sam Raimi, who recently has directed such films as A Simple Plan and For Love Of The Game. After the sort of low-budget productions of the first two features, "Army Of Darkness" was more of a mainstream effort, but still, it's not only well-written but downright hilarious. It's campy, but still awesome.
Campbell again stars as Ash, the ultimate wise-guy and perfect anti-hero. Sucked into a time tunnel, he finds himself fighting the forces of the dead in midevil times. The special effects are perfect throughout: very well done and at the same time, hilariously cheesy. Even better is the script, full of priceless one liners, which are performed greatly by Campbell. What's so great about this character is simply how much the character doesn't give a damn about any of it. He'd rather find a way home, but soon, he finds that he has no choice but to fight the army of the dead.
"Army Of Darkness" is simply fun all around. You get a sense that the people involved in the making of this movie are having a great time and in turn, the audience does as well. The screenplay is full of gems and Campbell's performance is outstanding. As many are now aware, this new "Official Bootleg Director's Cut" of the movie changes nothing from the director's cut disc on the limited edition set, yet it goes under a slightly different title. While Anchor Bay has apparently become aware of their growing negative reputation for issuing what seems to be endless "Army Of Darkness" DVDs, they say that this disc is simply being produced due to demand. If so, I don't see why they didn't use the same cover artwork. The differences in cover art and title have only succeeded in causing confusion among consumers.
This is, as the title states, the director's cut of the film, with a 96 minute running time, which includes a total of 15 minutes of additional scenes (part of which is the famous (infamous?) alternate ending). Personally, I like the director's cut edition more.
VIDEO: "Army of Darkness: Director's Cut" is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen by Anchor Bay. This extended edition has been taken from various sources and, while some sequences do fare well, others can look quite rough. As expected, sharpness and detail tend to vary throughout the movie; some sequences look downright hazy, while others achieve a somewhat more well-defined look.
Aside from the low quality of the sequences added into the picture, there are some other problems to occasionally contend with; minor pixelation occasionally appears, as does some instances of mild grain and speckles on the print used. Colors generally were decently presented, looking fairly bold during most of the film, but infrequently looking somewhat muddy.
SOUND: While Anchor Bay used Chace Digital Stereo to remaster the theatrical cut of the film in Dolby Digital 5.1 for its DVD releases, the director's cut remains 2.0 again here. While only 2.0, it's a fairly good soundtrack, as some of the effects contain a respectable punch. The score also has solid presence and dialogue remains clear and crisp.
MENUS:: The same subtly animated menus that have appeared on previous editions, with the score in Dolby Digital 5.1 playing in the background.
Commentary:: This is a commentary from director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell; Ivan Raimi joins the group later on in the commentary, but doesn't talk too much. The two(and eventually three) talk about how this film was tied into the series and how the series has developed over the years to this picture. The two also talk quite a bit about the production of the movie and the differences between the director's cut and the theatrical release. Interestingly, Raimi states that this version was distributed to some foreign territories, while the theatrical version was the version that Universal wanted Raimi to release.
While Campbell and Raimi talk equally with only a few pauses on this DVD, Raimi isn't quite as interesting to listen to as Campbell, who is entertaining throughout the commentary. The combination of the two do provide quite a bit of informative information about the production, though, with some very interesting tidbits about working with the various actors as well as some thoughts about the effects and other production notes. It may not be a really outstanding commentary, but I think the majority of it is a lot of fun and it makes for quite an enjoyable listen. I wish that the theatrical version would have had a commentary of it's own and even though Campbell and Raimi didn't want to do a commentary for that version, it would have been nice for someone like cinematographer Bill Pope(who is an absolutely awesome cinematographer) do a commentary for the theatrical version.
Storyboards: This is a way cool feature that is included onthe director's cut disc. If you choose, you can play the movie with this feature on: the storyboards will appear in the bottom corner of the picture and although not every scene has a storyboard available, quite a few of them do. These are nicely integrated and placed well on-screen as to not be distracting. And, of course, it's always nice to have this storyboard feature accessable on the movie itself, so you can pause the shot to study the storyboard compared to what's actually on-screen. A nicely done feature.
Deleted Scenes: Four deleted scenes that are generally rightly taken out of the film. They still make an interesting suppliment, though. The quality of these scenes are fair to average; watchable, but not great. You can choose to listen to commentary from Raimi and Campbell during these scenes.
Creature Concept Drawings:A fairly small, but enjoyable photo gallery where viewers can take a look at original ideas and concepts for some of the creatures of "Army Of Darkness".
Final Thoughts: Well, let me put it this way. If you own the director's cut edition of "Army Of Darkness" that has been released on two different editions before, there's nothing new here so a purchase certainly isn't necessary. Even if you have one of the theatrical edition DVDs, there's really not enough here to warrant a re-purchase, unless you're a hard-core fan of the movie and have missed the previous director's cut releases. If you've never seen the film, it's definitely a must-see and a perfect film to pick up as Halloween rolls around. I will also give the studio credit for pricing this edition lower than previous, at $19.99 retail.