Month: March 2017

Power Rangers – Review #68

Posted on Updated on

exclusive-final-power-rangers-poster-zords.jpgSaban’s Power Rangers, directed by Dean Israelite, is the newest movie adaptation of the long running Power Rangers TV show, and stars 5 young actors I’ve never seen before, and Bryan Cranston. Five ordinary teens must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove – and the world – is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.

I went into Power Rangers pretty much the same as how I go into most movie adaptations of franchises past; I know the general story of it, but I won’t consider myself a fan. I know what the Rangers are-I’ve seen bootleg action figures everywhere-, I know how the show mostly goes, and I know it is a staple of the 90’s.

But a nostalgic connection? Nope. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a single episode of the series. Maybe a few brief glimpses of Super Sentai but I’m not sure. Anyways, I went into this with pretty much no expectations. In fact, I kinda dismissed it. The trailers made it seem so drab and boring.

But after watching it, I will bite my tongue and say that I was pleasantly surprised.

There’s a strange charm to this movie. For the most part it plays the whole Rangers thing straight. The teenagers actually have real-world feasible problems, all that. But there are moments where it allows itself to go just slightly over-the-top and into a realm of weirdness. Those moments are lengthened greatly when the climatic battles comes but that’s to be expected.

I wasn’t expecting the movie to be quite so character driven. Each of the 5 rangers have their own problems, troubles and personal afflictions. Teenagers with actual attitude. I found myself really liking them. I can’t remember their names for the life of me, but they were good enough that they were able to make me care and held my attention.

The rest of the cast was alright. Bryan Cranston as Zordon and Bill Hader as Alpha-5 were serviceable. Got a few chuckles. Elizabeth Banks as Rita was something else though. Chewed the scenery liked nobody’s business.

Oh, and they got an Asian teenager that isn’t a stereotype. I dig that.

I suppose the main flaw with the movie is that it’s bland. There’s some good in it, but for the most part your mind is this constant state of blank. It’s “good enough”.

Others have stated that the movie isn’t good because it focused too much on the characters trying to become Rangers and less on the actual Ranger fighting. I agree in some aspects; the Ranger suits really don’t until way over an hour in. But I personally didn’t mind as much. In fact I found it quite daring.

I suppose it’s because that I’ve never watched the show that that doesn’t bother me as much. We all know the show is one big pile of cheese, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that some people went into the movie expecting more of that. But again, I myself didn’t mind it.

In the end, I surprisingly liked Power Rangers. Does it have its problems? Yes, as does any movie. But I had a good enough time, and hearing the audience respond with slight joy at the Green Ranger reference made me smile. All in all I’d say go watch it at matinee price, and don’t expect it to be like the TV show.

And there you have it, my thoughts on *Power Rangers*. So, *Beauty and the Beast* has been unbanned here, which is nice. That’s what I’m gonna watch, although if things go better, I’ll try and make it a double feature with *Ghost in the Shell*. See ya.

Advertisements

Kong: Skull Island – Review #67

Posted on Updated on

kong-skull-island-poster-2.jpgKong: Skull Island, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is the newest film in the proposed Monsterverse, and stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, and others. Okay, so it’s the 1970’s. The Vietnam War is at it’s ending days. Scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from everything they know, they venture into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery soon becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape from a primal world where humanity does not belong.

So, King Kong. The 8th Wonder of the World. I’ll admit that I don’t really have any special feelings towards the franchise. I’ve watched the 1933 original and really loved it, but that’s about it. I don’t the series that high of a cinematic prestige as others may.

The trailer is what sold me on it. The mixing of a Vietnam war movie and a giant monster movie is something I didn’t know I needed, but I did. It wasn’t a discussion and dissection of the human condition masked as a monster movie like the original was. It doesn’t even try. It was marketed as Apocalypse Now meets King Kong, and I was freaking in.

The action in Skull Island delivered in spades, and then some. It doesn’t do the 2014 Godzilla thing where Gareth Edwards teased the monster until the end, where they then give an all out brawl. In this movie it’s “go” right from the beginning.

To give you an example of just how awesome this movie can be, I’ll spoil you the first kill of the movie. Don’t worry, there are way more later on. So, the group arrive at the island. “Paranoid” from Black Sabbath starts to play-because Vietnam-when all of a sudden a freaking tree comes out of nowhere and flies right at a helicopter, impaling the damn thing cockpit first. There is a distinct style to it, something I really appreciate. it feels like a director made the movie, not a studio.

The cast is as cookie cutter as you come, but I’ll be damned if a few of them don’t leave an impact. Tom Hiddleston is Soldier McSoldierson, the main badass of the movie whose as bland as vanilla. He’s not memorable in the slightest, but he’s not terrible. Same goes for most of the cast really.

Two people stand out, though. John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson. It’s like all the charisma from the other actors were siphoned to the two. I won’t spoil what character Reilly or Jackson play, but it’s clear that they could loosen up and have fun with the movie.

The flaws of the movie to me are more subjective this time round. See, King Kong has always had this prestige surrounding him, both the character and movies. The original movie is a technical marvel, and stands as one of the best movies from that era. They’ve always that slightest bit of wax poetic to it, “it was beauty that killed the beast” and all. That is nowhere here.

Because of that, some people might go into Skull Island with a higher standard than it really should have. I mean, I love the movie, but I’m not gonna say it’s not stupid. So I suppose this is a warning more than anything.

In conclusion, Kong: Skull Island is a B-movie with an A-movie budget. Action to the max. If you want to see giant monsters beating the fuck out of each other, it’s almost a damn impossibility that you won’t get something out of this. A strong recommendation.

Oh, and there’s an after credits scene. It sets things up. To those that follow the Godzilla movies of old, you’ll get a kick out of it.

Logan – Review #66

Posted on Updated on

Image result for logan posterLogan, directed by James Mangold, is the latest 20th Century Fox X-Men movie, and stars Hugh Jackman in his perhaps final outing as the iconic Wolverine. It’s 2029, the world has gone to shit, the mutants are almost a thing of the past, and Logan is doing his best to aid an ailing Professor X near the Mexican border. Things are generally crappy, but things take an interesting turn when a new young mutant shows up, pursued by dark forces.

Ah, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. The Canadian Destroyer. The Snick-Bub. While I didn’t grow up and still haven’t watched most of the X-Men movies, I still loved his portrayal the…one time I’ve seen him in a movie, excluding this one. I liked Days of Future Past fine enough.

I was pretty psyched for Logan. It looked nothing the previous movies, with the drab and dusty look, and seemed to be more of a character piece than anything.

So I went in and yeah, it delivered.

The key word here is “grim”. Everything is brown and sand orange. The brilliant gleam of the superhero has come and long gone, so much so this doesn’t even feel like a superhero movie. Not in the traditional sense, at least, because this is one of the best superhero movies that has been made in recent times.

This is rated-R and oh yeah, it needs that R-rating. It’s not just for the blood guts slashing action that you get from Wolverine, although seeing actual blood for the first time when he slices someone feels so good, but the R is for it’s way different tone, it’s style, it’s very liberal use of profanity, everything to set this mature, dusty world where the X-Men are no more. The PG-13 rating simply would not have worked.

One thing I noticed was just how…cinematic this movie was. One of the biggest gripes I’ve had with the new Marvel movies is just how bland the directing and cinematography was. Say what you want about the original Spider-Man trilogy, they had style. I absolutely adored Logan‘s shot design. It feels like a movie, without the “superhero” stamp on it. It’s shot like a freaking Western, and indeed, the movie seems to take inspiration from the old cowboy “last ranger” movies of the 60’s. They even show a bit of the 1953 Western classic Shane and play a bit with it.

The cast…oh sweet Jesus. Patrick Stewart and Jackman give easily amazing performances. Do I dare say Oscar worthy?

…yes. Yes I do, actually. Their performances are damn Oscar worthy. But that’s not to dismiss the newcomer here, Daphne Keen as the kid.

12 year old me had a huge crush on the morbid Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family movies. 12 year old me would’ve probably went head over heels for Daphne Keen’s X-23. She cute, she’s deadly, and for an 11 year old, she gives an absolutely astounding performance. Good child actors are like unicorns, man.

Those three, supported by a well-rounded cast of others, made me care about Wolverine. I have not felt so much emotion from a superhero movie for a long time. Again, this is coming from a guy that didn’t follow the original X-Men movies. It made the superhero human, and it did it so well.

It has it’s flaws, though. Rather noticeable ones. I feel like the end of the 2nd act and the beginning of the 3rd act kinda dragged a bit. It had it’s reason, and I liked what I saw, but I still think they could’ve cut just a bit.

The villains I think could’ve done more, but for the most part they’re fine, they’re just there.

Overall though, the good far outweighs the bad. There is just so much they did right.

Overall, if Logan is Jackman’s send off to the character, then I don’t think they could’ve done it better. Like the old drifter riding into the sunset for the last time. It definitely deserves your money. Go see it.

The Lego Batman Movie – Review #65

Posted on Updated on

Image result for the lego batman movie posterThe Lego Batman Movie, directed by Chris McKay, is a spin-off of the acclaimed The Lego Movie, and stars Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes. Batman is Batman, being all Batman. That is until Batman might have to stop being Batman, while becoming a new Batman again.

It makes sense once you watch it, and you should, because it’s amazing.

The Lego Movie really took everyone by surprise. What was thought to be a cheap cash-in turned out to be hilarious, beautiful, and even thought-provoking little piece of work.

It deserved Best Animated Movie way more than Big Hero 6, at least.

I sadly missed it when it was in theaters, but 3 years later, I did not plan to make that mistake again. And I am so happy I did.

The movie starts with Will Arnett MST3K-ing over the production logos. It was all uphill from there.

The movie is on a constant high, spitting out joke after joke after joke with such speed that it puts Airplane! to shame. If one of them didn’t hit, you don’t have enough time to linger on it before another one came and probably make you laugh your heart out. This was the most fun I’ve had in a theater for a long while.

And who would’ve thought the Lego Batman movie would have actual emotional impact? The movie actually deconstructs not just Batman, but the current Batman that’s all the rage. The dark Batman, the edgy Batman. And they pulled it off amongst a tsunami of funny jokes. I don’t know how they do it.

And lastly, that cast. It’s freaking magnificent. Will Arnett is the best Batman since Kevin Conroy. He manages to balance the gruff and the fun of the Batman character with perfect ease. Michael Cera is unrecognizable as Robin, and while Zach Galifianakis as Joker is nothing unique, he’s still great. There really is nothing wrong with it.

—-

There’s one less than stellar scene, where a comedy bit goes on a bit too long. And that’s it. That is it. February this year has been amazingly gracious.

Oh, and the soundtrack. I can dig that soundtrack.

In conclusion, The Lego Batman Movie is a pop-culture, self-referential masterpiece. If you loved The Lego Movie, then you’ll love this. If you love Batman, you’ll love this. A whole-hearted recommendation.