“Evil: In the Time of Heroes”
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Picking up right where the first movie left off, Melitis, Marina, Jenny, and Vakirtzis manage to escape the stadium and meet up with another small group of survivors. Not only must they face the zombie horde, they also face a band of men who indiscriminately kill both the infected and those not simply for sport. Meanwhile, a messenger, looking for the one with the knowledge of how to defeat the evil, finds this most unexpected hero.
In this horror comedy, sequel to Evil (To Kako), the evil that has infected the citizens of Athens is explained. Less time is spent developing the characters in this, as more effort on developing the dual story line. The first part is set in ancient Greece. When the Evil comes, a warrior, killed in battle, rises from the dead with certain knowledge and is met by Prophitis, a Messenger. The second part of the story is that of our heroes. As Prophitis searches through modern day Athens looking for the new promised one, our heroes discover that the Evil is only in Greece and that plans are underway to evacuate and destroy it.
The cinematography of the arc set in Ancient Greece is gorgeous, filmed in black and white, with splashes of red. The story is more the more serious side and is enough to engage with the characters (an additional ensemble cast) and offer some character development. This sub-plot is a parallel of the modern story to point out the stark differences in the 2 heroes. The modern story line is also beautiful in its own way. Clever, cheesy, stunning, vivid, and surreal as any given scene required. Watch for homages to iconic horror (especially one scene with Vakirtzis, where he has a deer head in the background, as they’re preparing for battle), to direction style, to Greek history, and probably more that would only be obvious to someone from Greece.
Picking up the characters 4 years after the original, the actors remain constant with their performances. Further, it is clear that they had fun while making this film. One thing I really enjoy is that writer/director, Yorgos Noussias, isn’t afraid to kill off his characters – or to bring them back. Look for some new characters, including Billy Zane as Prophitis, messenger of the Gods, with his penchant for intensity and outstanding comedic timing; Kyr-Kostas (Christos Biros), Argyris’ charming, but not very good at fixing things, father; and Major Olga (Eftychia Giakoumi).
This was quite an ambitious undertaking, in which some aspects worked really beautifully, and some that didn’t. Having the dual story arcs set in 2 different periods, even the slightly larger budget than the first film was strained. Where it was spent was obvious and worth it. However there were more than a couple areas where it was equally obvious it wasn’t. Primarily, the running countdown which was, frankly, awful. Overlapping sloppily as segues between scenes just made the countdown look as if it were shoved in post production by someone who had no clue what they were doing. CGI effects are not better than practical. Just don’t do it. The cheesy scene at the beginning where body parts are being thrown at the car was better than the repeated CGI sequences of heads exploding.
The end fight scene is beautiful, the sky, the lightening (Okay, there are some times when CGI is good, just not for gore), the practical effects! The ending is, while not unexpected, entertaining.
I gave this 3 1/2 rum ‘n cokes. It wasn’t as original or inventive as the first, but it was a worthy sequel.