Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Under the Skin (2013)

Under the SkinTitle: Under the Skin (2013)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Runtime: 108 minutes

You’ve probably only heard of Under the Skin if you’ve always wanted to see Scarlett Johansson naked. That, or you follow the independent film scene, and heard of a really weird story about an alien in Scotland. Either way, I can’t tell you if this film is for you or not. What I can share, though, are my experiences, which is the best way to sum up this film.

I could give you the vague plot from IMDb, or another source, but I’ll just give you the same setup as the film does: a random guy on a bike finds a body by a lake and takes it away to a room. Inside this room the body is stripped by a naked Scarlett Johansson (she plays both characters), and then she ventures out in a van, and picks up men who are lonely and have no one to go home to. Continue reading

April in The Asylum: Branden Chowen on Hold Your Breath (2012)

For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will be locked into The Asylum, reviewing films released by the famed studio. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout April you will get another review on a film released by The Asylum. April’s podcast will also be devoted to films from The Asylum, and you can decide which three will be reviewed right here. Today, Branden remembers why it’s important to always Hold Your Breath when driving by a cemetery.


Hold Your BreathTitle: Hold Your Breath (2012)
Director: Jared Cohn
Runtime: 87 minutes

As the story goes, if one drives by a cemetery that houses a spirit so evil that even Hell doesn’t want it, holding your breath is the only way to keep the spirit out of your body. If you choose not to hold your breath, then the spirit will take over your body, and continue to do evil. This is the premise of The Asylum’s Hold Your Breath (or #HoldYourBreath for Twitter users). Even though this idea sounds pretty silly, Hold Your Breath is a surprisingly strong film.

Hold Your Breath is about a group of old high-school friends getting back together after college for a weekend camping trip. They agree to a no cell phone weekend, which is little more than a smart, easy plot device to make the rest of the film work. They lock up their cell phones in the SUVs glove box, and head off for a weekend of fun in the sun. On the way, they pass an old cemetery, and Jerry (Katrina Bowden) warns the group that they have to hold their breath, citing the story I mentioned above. The stoner of the group, Kyle (played wonderfully by Seth Cassell), decides to ignore her warning, and a local serial killer takes over his body. There is more to this story, though, as this serial killer’s spirit is able to jump from body to body when he sees fit. The group is faced with the challenge of ridding the world of this evil spirit before they are all picked off one by one. Continue reading

Movie Review – Branden Chowen on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

The Secret Life of Walter MittyTitle: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Director: Ben Stiller
Runtime: 114 minutes

There are some movies that hit you at just the right moment, and make you fall in love instantly. Garden State and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are two that immediately spring to mind as films that I fell in love with after only one viewing. I can now happily add The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to that list. This represents many of the reasons I love film so much, and deserves much more praise than it has gotten.

Ben Stiller plays the aggressively average Walter Mitty, who works at Life Magazine. He is given a set of negatives from Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) just like has happened a hundred times in the past. The difference is that this time O’Connell has taken what he calls “the quintessence of Life” in negative number 25. He heard that Life Magazine was about to release its last magazine in print, and he thinks #25 should be the cover photo. The problem is that negative #25 is missing. Neither Mitty nor his partner, Hernando (Adrian Martinez), can find the negative anywhere. Continue reading

April in The Asylum: Chris Ranson on Dragon (2006)

For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will be locked into The Asylum, reviewing films released by the famed studio. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout April you will get another review on a film released by The Asylum. April’s podcast will also be devoted to films from The Asylum, and you can decide which three will be reviewed right here. Today, Chris steps into an enchanted forest and finds Leigh Scott’s Dragon.


Dragon 2006Title: Dragon (2006)
Inspired ByEragon (2006)
Director: Leigh Scott
Runtime: 84 minutes

As I dive deeper into The Asylum catalog, there is one thing I must admit: nothing has been truly awful yet. It’s B-films through and through, but I haven’t wanted to rip my eyes out. For my third film, and third genre, I’ve picked Dragon, which was released in 2006. It’s The Asylum’s answer to Ergaon, which was so bad that it really doesn’t need to be mocked any further.

Dragon has us following Princess Vanir as she ventures out into the woods with two of her best soldiers. Inside this haunted forest she encounters a Necromancer, some dragon slayers, dark elves and a dragon, obviously. Do she and her new friends have the power to save her kingdom and slay the dragon? Continue reading

Movie Review – Ashe Collins on Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America The Winter SoldierTitle: Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014)
Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Runtime: 136 minutes

I’m really not fond of Captain America. I didn’t like him much in the comics, just like I didn’t like Tony Stark (Iron Man) in the comics. Thor and most of the other Avengers weren’t high on my list either. When it comes to Marvel comics, I’m generally on the X-Men side of things, but do stray into Ghost Rider, Captain Marvel, Hulk, and his cousin, She-Hulk. So for me the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the MCU from here on out, has been kind of a different take on all these characters as I’ve actually ended up liking them on the screen, and actually feel for what they’re going through. I’ll chock that up to some great lines, amazing actors, and a fast-paced set of scripts that never really give you time to breathe. After The Avengers, though, I decided to go all in with the MCU, and am even finding myself excited for Guardians of the Galaxy.  What surprised me, though, was how much I wanted to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, especially with all the bleed-over characters that I liked from Iron Man 2, The Avengers and the first Captain America film. Continue reading

April in The Asylum: Chris Ranson on 6 Guns (2010)

For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will be locked into The Asylum, reviewing films released by the famed studio. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout April you will get another review on a film released by The Asylum. April’s podcast will also be devoted to films from The Asylum, and you can decide which three will be reviewed right here. Today, Chris decides if the critically-panned Jonah Hex is better than The Asylum counterpart, 6 Guns.


6 GunsTitle: 6 Guns (2010)
Inspired ByJonah Hex (2010)
Director: Shane Van Dyke
Runtime: 95 minutes

It’s one thing to mock a true blockbuster film like Transformers, but why mock a film like Jonah Hex? I guess you can never assume a film will be a blockbuster because Jonah Hex was a major flop. The Asylum took the chance that Jonah Hex would be a big hit, and “Mocked” it up with their film 6 Guns.

Selina Stevens hires a bounty hunter to teach her the art of shooting a gun after her family is murdered in front of her, and has she has her body ravaged by a dirty old man. It’s a pretty basic plot and takes a solid hour before reaching that point. However, it’s all about the characters, and while it isn’t going to win an Oscar for the script, the characters are developed enough to be likable. Continue reading

April in The Asylum: Ashe Collins on 500 MPH Storm (2013)

For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will be locked into The Asylum, reviewing films released by the famed studio. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout April you will get another review on a film released by The Asylum. April’s podcast will also be devoted to films from The Asylum, and you can decide which three will be reviewed right here. Today, Ashe tries to hold on for dear life as the 500 MPH Storm passes.


500 MPH StormTitle: 500 MPH Storm (2013)
Director: Daniel Lusko
Runtime: 90 minutes

Take one actor known for B-movies, Casper Van Dien, add in an actor who’s been getting quite a bit of decent work with Michael Beach, surround them with no-name actors, a shoddy script, terrible acting, awful special effects, and some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard in a while, and you end up with something resembling 500 MPH Storm.  The premise is that some company on one of the coasts, I’m assuming, has developed a weather control device that shoots out giant beams of light.  Instead of controlling the weather properly on its first outing, though, it creates a super storm that whips through the United States, killing everything in its path. It’s up to Casper Van Dien’s former scientist-turned-teacher to fix it while dodging extremely fake looking tornados and toting around a really annoying son. His wife’s not all that great at the whole acting thing either. Continue reading