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Evil: In the Time of Heroes
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by Jay Seaver

"Decent, but even more random than its Billy Zane appearance."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2010 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: There is, I suppose, the possibility that "Evil - In the Time of Heroes" makes a certain amount of sense if you have seen the first film (the "Evil" from Greece in 2006). I have my doubts, but I suppose I must be open to the possibility. It's not that "In the Time of Heroes" needs a great deal of background - fast zombie outbreaks are fast zombie outbreaks - but it would be nice to know if the characters really should be taking some of what we see for granted.

The basics are simple - a few days ago, there was a zombie outbreak of some sort in Athens, and a group of four people survived the first movie together: Family man Meletis (Meletis Georgiadis), his friend Marina (Pepi Moschovakou), young Jenny (Mary Tsoni), and soldier Lt. Vakirtzis (Andreas Kontopoulos). They lost at least one of their group, Argyris (Argiris Thanasoulas) on the way. They meet up with some new folks - Olga (Eftyhia Yakoumi), a Major in the army, Vicky (Ioanna Pappa), who had been stuck at the top of a Ferris Wheel during the initial outbreak, and Johnny (Thanos Tokakis), who helps them deal with a sniper that had them pinned down and brings them to a house where they can hide out. Jenny has been shot, though, so they need to find some medical supplies. Among the things that they don't know is that this has happened before, in the time of the great Greek city-states, and a strange messenger (Billy Zane) is coming with something for the reincarnation of the hero who drove the plague back the first time.

In the Time of Heroes is a strange mashup of tones; it jumps back in forth in time between the present and ancient times, and throws a lot of comedy into the both sections. Not just comic relief, either; there are times when it seems like the film intends to be a comedy first. Writer/director Yorgos Noussias is sometimes very haphazard in connecting the jokes with the tragic moments, to the point where the audience can find themselves scratching their heads, wondering just what sort of movie Noussias was trying to make. The characters also have an odd sort of ambivalence to the superhuman elements that show up.

I find that unfortunate, because if Noussias was able to keep his tongue from spending so much time in his cheek, he'd have the building blocks of a fairly well-constructed fight against the undead. He's not afraid to kill of characters that the audience has grown to like in the nastiest way possible, including holdovers from the first movie. The gore effects are not bad at all, and while the audience will perhaps best remember one of the sillier CGI shots, the effects guys do a nice job of emptying streets in long shots and other necessities. The mythology he builds could be quite interesting if he took the time to delve into it a little more or took it more seriously.

He's got a nice cast to work with, too. Few of them have done much work outside of Greece, but Georgiadis and Moschovakou have a nice chemistry together, and Kontopoulos finds a nice note to hit even as Vakirtzis's skills are exaggerated for comedy. Ioanna Pappa and the others have little trouble dropping comfortably into the existing ensemble, and most are equally adept at the comedy and horror. Billy Zane may have a new personal best for a guy who once looked like a potential A-lister showing up in a random role (impressive, considering he's got Valley of the Wolves: Iraq in his filmography).

A lot of zombie movies get cranked out every year, and even a lot of sequels. "Evil - In the Time of Heroes" is better than most, even though it can be frustrating. Yorgos Noussias seems to have had ideas for two or three different zombie movies, and this one might have been better if he'd just chosen one approach and stuck with it.

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originally posted: 07/12/10 01:35:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

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