Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Boyhood (2014)

BoyhoodTitle: Boyhood (2014)
Director: Richard Linklater
Runtime: 165 minutes

Richard Linklater is a genius. I would have his babies, and I don’t even know what he looks like. He crafted one of the greatest love stories ever in his Before series (Before Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight), and with Boyhood he does something that just blows my mind: he filmed a child over the course of twelve years, from six years old to eighteen years old.

It must have been a daunting task not only for Linklater, but for the entire cast, dedicating their time for twelve years to capture little blips of life, all of them growing and aging on screen.

In one breath we see Mason JR. (Ellar Coltrane), age six, as he deals with his annoying sister, and the next moment, it’s a year later, and they’re moving. Or is it a year later? The film never defines a timeline, and only briefly are birthdays mentioned. However, I could always tell when it was a new year because the film works as a giant time capsule. Instead of trying to recreate the past – be it with clothing, hairstyles, or even general electronics – Linklater is able to capture the look of the time, and that’s what hooked me. The film opens with “Yellow” by Coldplay, and the year is 2000. As the film progresses so does the music, which is an ideal way for the audience to tell when a chunk of time has passed. This is easier than watching Mason’s physical tranformation because these changes are subtle until he hits puberty. Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on The Surrogate (2013)

The SurrogateTitle: The Surrogate (2013)
Director: Doug Campbell
Runtime: 89 minutes

As The Surrogate DVD booted up, I got scared. The previews, and the company’s logo, are roughly VHS quality, and it lowered my expectations for the film greatly. What kind of movie was I getting myself into? The cover art screams The Cradle Will Rock, and let’s be honest, it’s almost the same plot, just a little crazier. Add in The Crush to the mix, and you’ll have a rough idea of what The Surrogate is all about.

Jacob Kelly is a famous author who now teaches college courses. His wife is unable to bear children, and her final embryo is all that’s left, so it’s now or never to find a surrogate to carry their baby. They find an amazing girl named Remy, but one of Jacob’s students has other plans and wants to be the surrogate mother because she is madly in love with Jacob. Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on The Bunnyman Massacre (2014)

The Bunnyman MassacreTitle: The Bunnyman Massacre (2014)
Director: Carl Lindbergh
Runtime: 104 minutes

I was stoked when I found out that I was going to review a film about a killer in a bunny costume. This sounded absurd, and I do love the absurd, but I was worried because I never saw the first film. Thankfully, I can say that you can easily follow The Bunnyman Massacre without watching the original, Bunnyman (2011).

The Bunnyman Massacre opens with a school bus picking a girl up who’s waiting at the bus stop. Her dead body falls over, and a man in a giant bunny costume shows up with a chainsaw and shotgun. He blasts the driver, climbs into the bus and starts to slaughter the kids as they try and get out of the emergency exit door. Welcome to The Bunnyman Massacre. With that kind of setup, one can only expect some more morbid shit to follow.

Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Runtime: 101 minutes

Some of you may have checked out my series review of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. If you didn’t, I am a huge fan of the Turtles. Dating back to when I was a kid, the Turtles were always my favorite toys to collect and cartoon to watch. Heck, I still have all of the original toys from the cartoon and the movie.

When word came out about this new Turtles film I was worried. Not because Michael Bay’s Platinum Dune company was producing it – they also did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake from 2003 which I loved – but because of the rumors of the alien origins rather than the ooze that the comics, cartoon, and previous films have used. Continue reading

Cinefessions Series Review – Chris Ranson on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series

A Cinefessions Series Review is a periodic column that sees one more writers watching and reviewing an entire film series. Cinefessions considers any film franchise that has two or more films a series, and thus available for review in this column. This is an excellent way to get a quick look at an entire collection of films in one column. Today, Chris puts on those rose-colored glasses and visits a childhood favorite in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.


To say that I’m excited for the brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film would be an understatement. I grew up on the old school cartoon, and still own all of the original figures, even that elusive April O’Neil figure. It’s to the point where any time my brother sees any TMNT meme online he instantly tags me in it. So to prepare for this new film – which I admit looks completely awesome – I’ve decided to re-watch the entire series in order, and including the TMNT animated film, which is considered the fourth film by the fans.

 —
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990, dir. Steve Barron)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1991

two_and_a_half_stars

I remember getting the VHS of this and watching it over and over. I knew every line and loved the film to death. It’s been a good seven years or so since I’ve seen it, and I just picked up the trilogy on Blu-ray, so I was stoked to revisit this.

I just can’t fathom how my young brain handled so much downtime in a TMNT film. This one moves slowly, mainly when at the farmhouse. And now that I think about it, I may have fast-forwarded through that section a lot as a kid. Continue reading

Movie Review – Ashe Collins on Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the GalaxyTitle: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Director: James Gunn
Runtime: 121 minutes

I honestly know next to nothing about this portion of the Marvel comic universe. I’m more into X-Men and have a vague idea about the Avengers and Spider-Man. I have seen them head off and deal with different space issues before, but that was nothing like this at all.  Guardians of the Galaxy manages to not only deliver great characters, but it also develops each member of the main ensemble, plus actual villain development, lots of action, some amazing effects, and then tops it all off with tongue-in-cheek humor that lets you know this is a much lighter take on the material than we’ve seen in the past in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while still tying into it for the long term. The pacing is good, the selection of older pop music is great along with the actual score for the film, and it makes the whole experience of going to the movies fun (even if my local theater was doing its best to ruin it for everyone who didn’t pay for the 3D ticket). Continue reading

Movie Review – Ashe Collins on Mold! (2012)

Mold!Title: Mold! (2012)
Director: Neil Meschino
Runtime: 86 minutes

I expected Mold! to be something kind of serious; the cover makes it look that way, even with the blurb on the back and comparisons they make. The inside cover has what I’m guessing should have been on the outside of the box in the first place, as the artwork places it firmly in the realm of Troma, and other ‘80s direct-to-video (DTV) horror productions. With that in mind, to say that I was going into this film with mixed expectations is putting it mildly. As a satire or throwback film to those ‘80s DTV B-movie horror flicks, it works exceptionally well. If the cover has you expecting anything else, though, you’ll be extremely disappointed.

Mold! is set in 1984 when the war on drugs is getting underway. We’re in a top-secret facility where the government is looking to use some organic means to wipe out the plants that cocaine is harvested from. As a result, our scientists have developed a mold that will eat any vegetation quickly. The problem is that the mold likes water. It thrives on it, spreading quickly and growing out of control when exposed to it, so much so that they have to wear suits to protect themselves from it. Thanks to a traitor among the scientists at a demonstration of the mold’s capabilities, the mold is no longer just going after plants, but spreads to humans as well. Being that we’re essentially 70% water I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t make that leap. Continue reading