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Crustaceous Humongous, by Reed Lackey

7 Sep

Let’s get right down to business. The movie is called Queen Crab. Its plot involves the daughter of a scientist studying growth chemicals in plant life feeding her father’s experiments to her pet crab, causing it to become gigantic. How could anything possibly go wrong?


The Stuff of Nightmares: A Tribute to Wes Craven, by Reed Lackey

31 Aug

I was up late one night while we were visiting family out of town. I was alone, flipping through channels to find a movie to watch, when I stumbled across a sequence of images of a person sharpening knives and hammering metal brackets. A haunting lullaby ominously underscored the project and once the contraption was complete, a hand spread its fingers and revealed a terrifying knife-fingered glove. The title card read A Nightmare on Elm Street. I was eight years old.


The Unknowable, by Tyler Smith

29 Jul


James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour is a fascinating and sensitive exploration into the inner life of an unknowable person. In an attempt to delve into the complicated world of David Foster Wallace, Ponsoldt goes so much deeper and uncovers truths that are at once specific to Wallace, yet universal to anybody that has ever attempted to express himself, creatively or otherwise. It is a dark and invigorating place, and Ponsoldt has captured it perfectly.


Little Hero, Big Problems, by Tyler Smith

16 Jul


Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man can certainly be commended for being different. As the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe get larger in their scope, Ant-Man appropriately scales things down to a much more manageable size. We don’t get galaxies hanging in the balance. Instead, it’s just a basic story of corporate greed and recklessness and a few plucky heroes out to stop it.


Minisode 66: Jurassic World

24 Jun


In this minisode, Tyler discusses his thoughts about Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World.

The World has Changed, by Travis Fishburn

17 Jun


Over the weekend Jurassic World made broke the record for the biggest domestic opening of all time. This came as quite a surprise, considering the record was expected to go to The Avengers: Age of Ultron last month, breaking the record set by the first Avengers in 2012.

Jurassic Park was a phenomenon in the summer of 1993 with adults and kids alike, but I think that even Universal was unaware of quite how important the first film was to a generation of kids that grew up in the 90s. I’ve always held a belief that Jurassic Park was to those kids what Star Wars was to the generation that grew up in the 70s. Both films revolutionized visual effects and captured the imaginations of millions of people around the planet. And they both happen to hold the top spots for my favorite films of all time.


Togetherness, by Tyler Smith

30 Apr


There is a moment early in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron in which the superhero team contemplates how they could possibly fight against another onslaught of interstellar monsters. Captain America quietly states, “Together.” In the moment, it seems somehow sad, maybe even pathetic, to think that the only consolation about impending death is that they’ll die alongside one another. The moment has power, but not because it is inspirational.

The inspiration comes later, after the in-fighting and paranoia. After blame is thrown around and the characters are belittled by one another. Only after the team is at its lowest, with virtually no cohesion at all, do they finally come together to fight against an army of robots. Why does this happen? Because when you’re that low, you come to realize just how weak you are and how much you need other people. It is at that moment, after exposing one another’s flaws and fears and accepting them, that the Avengers truly comes together as a team.


An “A” for Effort, by Josh Long

1 Apr

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Traditionally, the American Christian right is closely associated with conservatism and traditional “American” values. So it’s no surprise that Burns Family Studios, a Christian film company started by two home-schooling families, chooses to set their new film around the American Revolution. The company has one film under their belt so far, the medieval epic Pendragon: Sword of His Father, which was well received at several Christian and Family Film festivals. While Pendragon was a passion project shot in back yards and starring the Burns family themselves, Beyond the Mask is a more ambitious, higher budget project, aiming to stand alongside similar Hollywood projects.


Unflattering Imitation, by Reed Lackey

30 Mar


The first and biggest problem with Infernal, though sadly far from the only one, is its decision to emulate the “found footage” format when telling its story.

If you don’t know that term, it first came to prominence with The Blair Witch Project in 1999 and refers to a filming style wherein the narrative appears to play out as if it were captured by a home video camera: with shaky camera work, out of focus shots, and intentionally awkward angles. Since the release and success of “Blair Witch”, dozens of movies ranging from low-budget independents to major studio efforts have sought to imitate the format, with mixed results. The most recent mainstream success franchise to use this format has been the Paranormal Activity films.


Something Old, Something New, by Reed Lackey

28 Feb


One of my biggest criticisms of the genre known as the “Christian film” is that the films too often feel reactionary. Rather than being created from a desire to tell a good story and tell it well, many films in the “Christian” genre are responding to a specific cultural condition with a specific message and an undeniable agenda.

The latest film to fall into this category is Old Fashioned, written and directed by Rik Swartzwelder, who also stars as the lead role opposite Elizabeth Roberts. The film centers around a couple whose romance is more akin to “courtship” than dating and was specifically marketed as the Evangelical response to 50 Shades of Grey. I should be upfront about the fact that I wasn’t expecting much from it.

But the marketing campaign was probably a disservice to the film because what I saw offered me a few surprises, which not only endeared it to me as a positive entry in the “Christian film” genre, but also gave me some glimmers of hope for where that genre might be headed.