Tag Archives: Fran Kranz

The Cabin in the Woods (2012 Movie)

Mutant Enemy Productions

My rating: 3.5 of 5

WARNING: Rated R for basically everything. Consider yourself warned.

Five college kids get together for a weekend trip away at a cabin in the middle of nowhere. It’s supposed to be a time to indulge in scary stories, exploration, drugs, and each other without the judgement and pressures of the world. But the rush of freedom quickly changes to horror as they find themselves attacked by zombies coming out of the woods, picking off the kids one by one. What the kids don’t realize at first is that this is all part of something bigger, that there’s someone behind the scenes manipulating them and orchestrating this little calamity. And when the survivors decide to take the horror back to the source, things begin going spectacularly wrong on the end of the manipulators. . . . Will the world even survive the aftermath?

Anyone familiar with Joss Whedon’s works, particularly Buffy and Angel will find a certain amount of familiarity in The Cabin in the Woods, although this movie is quite possibly darker and certainly more graphic than those shows. There’s a feeling about it that carries over though; it’s certainly Whedon’s story. The story both is a horror story–with all the blood and campiness and creeping dread that such a story entails–and also is a satire of the contemporary horror movie, pointing out the ways that such stories have gone wrong. And I kind of both love and hate it. I’m not big on the genre in general–honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that Whedon wrote it and Fran Kranz (love his character!) and Amy Acker were in it, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. Because the violence in that sort of show really feels almost pornographic to me, even in instances where there isn’t a lot of sexual content. But in this instance, that’s actually one of the things that’s dealt with satirically, so . . . yeah. I really did like the group of kids they chose; they had a good dynamic, and yeah, Fran Kranz (as a stoner idiot who may actually be the smartest of the group). The way the manipulators behind the scenes was developed was unexpected, but it definitely added a lot of interest and, while super creepy, I enjoyed that aspect of the story. The ending (no spoilers, promise) surprised me a lot, although I found it fitting. And the production of the movie itself was quite well done, with some interesting camera angles, lots of atmosphere, and tons of creepy monsters. I would definitely not recommend The Cabin in the Woods for everyone, but for those who enjoy Whedon’s work or the horror movie genre, it might be interesting to try.

Written by Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard/Directed by Drew Goddard/Produced by Joss Whedon/Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, & Amy Acker/Music by David Julyan

 

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Lust for Love (2014 Movie)

Gravitas Ventures

My rating: 3.5 of 5

WARNING: MATURE AUDIENCE

Sweet, overly-affectionate Astor manages to scare off his lifelong crush Mila shortly after they started dating; although he’s a nice guy, he was waaaay too transparent and clingy for her to handle. Desperate to win her back, Astor goes to Mila’s old friend Cali for advice, only to find out there’s been a huge rift in their friendship–details not disclosed to him at the time. Not to be discouraged, he bugs her for help in wooing women, with rather pitiful but kind-of cute results. And as he and Cali spend more time together, he begins to fall for this cynical, wonderful woman, although he’s still too set on winning Mila to admit it at first . . . not that Cali’s any better at admitting her growing feelings for him. Meanwhile, Astor is also trying to manage a truce with Mila’s current boyfriend Jake and to get Mila and Cali to work out their differences. Life for this poor guy is complicated!

This is another one of those random indie films that I basically only watched because of the cast. Lust for Love is a pretty cute and random romcom focusing on this guy who is super sweet and earnest but who totally has no clue and no luck with girls, especially with the girl of his dreams whose personality totally does not mesh with his. I don’t even know what to call the love polygon that ensues during this story’s development–there are so many weird off-shoots and connections that it resembles some bizarre molecular construct. And I’m not usually a fan of even your basic love triangle, so that part of the story was kind of a downer for me. Also, fair warning that, while this is officially not rated, it would probably be rated R if it were . . . so there were some parts that were definitely TMI. But in spite of that, there were aspects of this story that were really beautiful. I loved the dynamic between Cali and Astor; there’s this one scene where they’re on the roof together just relaxing, watching birds, dancing, and being themselves, and it’s pretty much perfect and wonderful. (Of course, I think Fran Kranz and Dichen Lachman have a good dynamic on-screen together just in general. Actually, the whole cast pretty much has a great dynamic, which is one of the things I love most about this group of people.) It’s pretty obvious right from the start that these two will end up together–so much so that I don’t even feel guilty about spoiling that part one little bit. I also liked the way that all the friendships were worked in amidst the drama and the romance. I would actually have loved to see more of this so the ending didn’t seem quite so forced; it almost feels like we’re missing a scene or two right before the conclusion. One of my favorite relationships (and one of the few that was never romantic at all) is the friendship between Astor and Jenny (played by Miracle Laurie). They just have such a fun, sweet atmosphere between them that’s absolutely precious. I think for people who enjoy indie romcoms–or for those who enjoy Whedon’s shows (especially Dollhouse) and want to see more of the actors in them–Lust for Love may be a random but fun movie to try.

Written & Directed by Anton King/Produced by Anton King, Dichen Lachman, & Jack Wylson/Starring Fran Kranz, Dichen Lachman, Beau Garrett, Caitlin Stasey, Enver Gjokaj, Karim Saleh, Miracle Laurie, Felicia Day, & Maurissa Tancharoen/Music by Jed Whedon

Note: You can find out more and view the trailer at the show’s website, http://lustforlovefilm.com/.

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Dollhouse

Created by Joss Whedon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine a technology that would enable people to completely remove an individual’s memory, personality, identity. . . . Terrifying, isn’t it? A girl by the name of Caroline finds herself dragged into a corporation (the Dollhouse) that does just that–for profit. For various reasons, she becomes an “Active” called Echo, her own identity erased to become whoever the client needs her to be: spy, lover, special agent in a hostage situation, whatever. Only, unlike most of the other Actives, Echo keeps having pieces of old personality imprints popping up after they were supposedly erased; memories she shouldn’t have retained begin showing up. She is evolving a self of her own, beyond that of her original, Caroline. And Echo is determined to bring the Dollhouse down, whatever it takes.

I know I’ve said before that I really enjoy Joss Whedon’s shows. . . . Dollhouse is the best I’ve seen of them yet. I absolutely devoured all 26 episodes and was saddened that there wasn’t more (although I think they ended it very well). Rather than being about the paranormal, this is very much a science-y show–but not in an obsessively, overwhelmingly geeky way. While it does give a clear and terrifying picture of what could (likely would) go wrong if this sort of technology ever did come into existence, it is much more focused on the individuals involved in this particular story. Echo herself is absolutely the focal point of the entire story, and she is an excellent character. Eliza Dushku’s acting in this role is exemplary. She shows the individuals whose minds are implanted into Echo as distinct and yet also shows the gradually developing entity that is Echo as an individual herself . . . it’s truly fascinating to watch! The relationship that grows between actives Victor and Sierra (without giving too much away) is absolutely beautiful as well. The whole show is a strong argument for there being some–a soul perhaps–that makes us who we are, even if all our memories and such are stripped away. More challenging characters include scientific genius Topher Brink (whom I enjoyed very much, although he is again, a challenging character) and Dollhouse leader/shepherd Adelle DeWitt (who is excellently played, though provoking, and in my personal opinion absolutely maddening).  I guess what I’m getting at is that the characters, characterization, acting, and character-driven aspect (sorry if that sounds repetitive) are all wonderful. I’d also like to note that the production for the whole series is quite lovely–it’s visually stunning. Plus it has a great soundtrack. I would highly recommend Dollhouse to all mature viewers (not a kids’ TV show).

Starring: Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Olivia Williams, Amy Acker, Reed Diamond, & Miracle Laurie

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Much Ado About Nothing

Bellwether Pictures

Directed by Joss Whedon/Produced by Joss Whedon & Kai Cole/Music by Joss Whedon/Based on the Play by William Shakespeare/Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, & Jillian Morgese

I find it probable that you have heard the tale of Beatrice and Benedick, sharp of wit and sharper of tongue, ever eager to turn the both against each other. You’ve likely heard of Beatrice’s fair and sweet cousin Hero and her love, the valiant (but too quick to jump to conclusions) Claudio. Mayhap you even know of the clever tricks that were turned against Beatrice and Benedick to soften their hearts and of the cruel tricks that were played against Hero and Claudio’s love. But I daresay you’ve never heard their tale told in quite such a manner as this. . . .

Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing was a treat from start to finish. It sticks largely with the plot–and even the wording–of the original (so yes, Shakespearean English). But he sticks the classic plot in a contemporary setting, somehow bringing the story into the present day (sort of) without verbally alluding to it at all. People are beckoned to listen to music . . . on an MP3 player. The watch manages to lock themselves out of their car. A lot of the story is carried non-verbally, while still somehow remaining true to the spirit and intent of the original. It helps that Whedon collected an amazing cast for this, most (if not all) of the major actors having worked with him before on other shows. (And may I just say, it was refreshing to see Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker get a happy ending for once!) The music chosen also set the mood excellently. And–one of the most refreshingly surprising aspects in my mind–the entire movie was in black and white! I love it!!! I will note that this is a PG-13 movie–and personally I wouldn’t share it with anyone under 16 because of a few bedroom scenes–but for adult viewers, I thing Much Ado About Nothing is an exceptional movie that I recommend highly.

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