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POWER RANGERS Review

Warning: Spoilers Inside.

What if the Goonies ended up in the movie Chronicle, gained superpowers that included Iron Man Armor and giant Transformer-esque robots based on prehistoric creatures that in the end form a Voltron?

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This is what you get.

And a Movie Adaption of this show:

has no business being as GOOD as 2017’s POWER RANGERS is.

We start the film introduced to the Ranger(s) during the The Mesozoic Era, as they make their last stand against a villainous Green Ranger who has brought the team to the brink of decimation.  We meet Zordon, an alien warrior and leader who is on his literal last leg as this villainous Ranger stands over him, ready to deliver a deathblow.

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Then, a meteor hits.  I am not quite sure if they insinuate that a intergalactic battle between Rangers brought forth the end of the dinosaurs, but as a continuing trend throughout the film, these details don’t really matter.  This story is about teamwork and the characters that populate that framework. So logic obviously takes  back seat to heart and character development.

Fast forward to the modern age and we meet Jason Scott (played by Dacre Montgomery), the inevitable and eventual team leader destined to wear Red, who is in the midst of a prank with what I believe to be the movie version of Bulk & Skull from the original series.

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I can’t confirm this one way or another, but here I am aiming to believe and stand by this theory.  Won’t matter, because these two aren’t seen or heard from again, not even during the detention scene where Jason ends up, swiftly after botching his get away from the police after said prank so awry.  And it doesn’t matter, it’s not their story either.

Here in detention Jason immediately makes friends with an ultra focused, socially awkward (‘On the Spectrum’ as he self proclaims) kid getting picked on.  Jason full on PIMP-slaps this bully before proclaiming ‘That’s weird Right’?  Which makes for a nice call back moment by the film’s end battle scene.  This is Billy Cranston (played by RJ Cyler), boy genius and eventual Blue Ranger.

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While Jason may be the leader and our eyes into this story, Billy is the HEART.  I can’t stress that enough.  Without the charm that RJ Cyler brings to the role and the movie overall, Saban’s POWER RANGERS would seriously be lacking.

In this detention, we also meet Kimberly Hart (Played by Naomi Scott), the popular one minute, brooding loner the next, female lead that unfortunately isn’t very well developed as a character, aside from very typical tropes for a teenage girl in a high school setting, see Exhibit A below:

Exhibit A:  tumblr_oeqigt7baw1thcic4o3_r3_1280

An agreement between new found friends Jason & Billy find them in  Angel Grove’s Gold Mine. powerrangers-1024x576

Through a series of events, run-ins and some mild stalking, our 3 already established teens meet Zack Taylor & and Trini Kwan (played by Ludi Lin & Becky G.) , Zack creeping on a spelunking Trini, both wandering the mines to clear their minds.  There may be some deeper meaning at play here, but you’re probably not watching this movie for deep meanings, when the stuff on the surface suffice.

Together they discover mystical glowing colored coins while Billy is inexplicably (they may have addressed it in some reference to making his late father proud, but it could have been a little more clear cut, overall forgiven) blasting at the mine.  One car chase and and train accident later;

our rag tag gang of mischievous teenagers are on their way to becoming superheros, experimenting with their new found powers and invoking sequences not unlike that in ‘CHRONICLE’.  Jumping gorges that would make Bart Simpson jealous.

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It’s in these sequences where I noticed how beautifully filmed this movie can be, at times in this mountainous landscape, the lense catches the sun just right and I think I’m in a Terrence Malick film and forget that Aliens, Space Witches and Robots and Dino Robots are not far off.

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In exploring these mountains the kids find  a spaceship buried underground and awaken a pudgy, yet versatile Alien Android named Alpha-5, voiced annoyingly but serviceably by Bill Hader.

rangers Alpha then awakens Zordon, who’s essence has been trapped in this sunken vessel and is portrayed very neatly now as a giant Bryan Cranston face that’s been pushed through a Classic Pin Art Grid.power-rangers8

After becoming formally acquainted, the teens are introduced to the impending doom they must face through a forced dream sequence that introduces them to Rita Repulsa, the aforementioned villainous Green Ranger and now seemingly Space Witch played rightfully and deliciously over the top by Elizabeth Banks.  She is seeking her Green Crystal coin, that helped make her the Green Ranger and gave her all of the Bryan Cranston smashing power she needs.

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But first, after being discovered coincidentally by Jason’s father on a fishing boat at the bottom of the sea, she sets out on a crusade for Pure Gold, not only to rejuvenate herself but also to build a giant monster named Goldar, which fans of the show will remember as being this guy:

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Who get’s an upgrade to look like this: giphy2

Good thing Angel Grove was built around a Gold Mine!

Meanwhile, the Rangers struggle to work together in their training and must find the missing component to allow them to Morph into their new Iron Man-seque armor.  They are put to the test fighting living rock creatures that are known to be Rita’s minions.

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After numerous failed attempts, Billy finally morphs during a heated argument between Jason and Zack.

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The rest of the gang turns to him to find out how,

and HERE is where the movie’s true message ends up shining through during this scene; becoming friends.  This movie forces our teens to ACTUALLY & Genuinely become friends and to care about one another to succeed, not just for the sake of their new found abilities and duties in saving the world.

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These kids EARN the power that is bestowed upon them and it shows, just as much as these ACTORS earn their roles and hopefully continued success as they’ve masterfully embodied these characters wholeheartedly.  No one is phoning it in here in this movie and that’s pretty awesome for what some may consider to be just a reboot of a silly old kids show from TV.  The bar is raised a bit and you won’t even notice because at this point you are too involved and having too much fun.

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In the last third of the movie, things pick up the pace and much like this review rushes to the end, so we can get to piloted Prehistorically Based Robot creatures

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and it all moves rather quickly leading up to a giant battle in the downtown streets of Angel Grove that will invoke more from VOLTRON

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or Sym-Bionic Titan

*Required Viewing

We’re then treated to a Giant Robot Kaiju smackdown that TOHO PICTURES or Guillermo del Toro would be proud of.

Bottom Line: If you don’t have a stick in your butt, go to the theater this weekend, and have some fun and embrace the nostalgia filtered through a ‘Dark Knight’ lense.

No B.S. Top 10 of 2016

Here we are facing 2017 after the Bizarre & Grim realities of 2016 have passed us by.

rip-2016 *

Rife with Celebrities Deaths,

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Traumatizing Elections,

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with some of the best political satire EVER,

 

Olympic Celebrations wrapped in Highs & Lows.

But one thing for certain is that we had one of the most entertaining years at the cinema, and coming from that perspective it makes 2016 overall bittersweet.

So here is our Basic, No B.S., Gif Laden, countdown of the best of 2016 from your friends at Movie (P)Review.  We’re not going to waste your time telling you WHY these are the top 10 best of the year, we only implore that you see them as we have and trust that we enjoyed them, in this particularly ranked order.

10.

10 Cloverfield Ln (How numerically appropriate)

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9.

The Accountant

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8.

Kubo & the Two Strings

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7.

The Magnificent 7 (7 for 7, we did it again)

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6.

Star Trek Beyond

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5.

Doctor Strange

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4.

Captain America: Civil War

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3.

Arrival

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2.

Deadpool

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1.

Rogue One

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(*Courtesy of Jared Brown of Darkstream Studios)

(**via Oregon Live)

(All GIFs courtesy of Giphy)

Doctor Strange – A Review

“What if Harry Potter Grew Up to be a Dick and lived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe”

In a climate rife with an oversaturation of Comic Book adaptions, somehow Marvel Studios seems to consistently come out on top.  It’s no different with their latest chapter in the MCU, Doctor Strange.

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Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Doctor Stephen Strange, (and he is literally a cocky, hot shot neuro-surgeon) who embarks on a magnificent journey after his life changes due to a rather debilitating automobile accident.  When we’re introduced to Strange, he’s not painted in a very sympathetic light.  We see him as he harshly breaks up with his significant other and fellow Doctor Christine Palmer (here played by Rachel McAdams and sidelined for the majority of the film) and pass up medical cases (that he would be qualified for but his talents wasted on as he puts it) leading up to and right before he finds himself in a life altering fender bender.  He may have broken up with Doctor Palmer after the accident, but it’s all really irrelevant as Strange seeks some miracle for the damaged nerves in his crushed hands, preventing him from the one thing that made him so magnificent in the first place.  We have a huge ego on our hands with this character and it shows.

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At this point in the film I expect this story to be about the importance of humility and remaining humble, and it does follow that lesson to an extent.  Especially once we arrive in India Nepal where Strange, in his absolute lowest point (He spent his final dime to get there!), is discovered by Baron Mordo (played by the close to unpronounceable Chiwetel Ejiofor)

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and introduces him to an academy, led by a mystical guru known as the “Ancient One” played by Tilda Swinton, but looking like Mr. Burns in that X-Files episode of the Simpsons.

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It’s here that Strange learns the lesson that I find the to be most important aspect of the story, and I do so by quoting the Ancient One in the scene documented in quotes below:

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(Source: IMDB)

And here is where this concept checks out, as Strange learns more about the power that he can harness to not only fix his hands but to pull off a wide variety of abilities like conjuring weapons made from a mystic force and opening portals to jump through reality, leading him to discover a cloak (or more appropriately the cloak discovers him in a fleeting, this is how it is now kind of sequence) with the ability of flight.

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This also leads Strange to a path of opposition, by default, with a former student of the Ancient One named Kaecilius, who’s adopted the skills to serve in favor of the Dark Arts and a Fiery Demonic God known as Dormammu.  Once again the Marvel villain is underdeveloped and merely in place to give conflict to the main character, they say this is an ongoing issue with Marvel films and I agree only to an extent, and only find this to be an issue when the film is an origin story meant to intro us viewers to a new character or concept (in this case both, Strange and the art of Magic) and how that all fits into the overall MCU.  Here Strange inevitably comes face to face with the fiery God in a match of wits and ultimately patience, which was a refreshing change from a knock-down drag out fight we come to expect from most climaxes in Superhero Movies.

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Where this film succeeds is the same manner in which Guardians of the Galaxy does, it spins the superhero concept on its head by introducing us to a corner of the Marvel Universe as yet unexplored, but only hinted at previously and ultimately coming off fresher than it may actually be.

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Lastly, this movies pulls off some insane visual effects, rolling backgrounds caving into one another, running up moving walls and kaleidoscoping landscapes that if going to the cinemas blazed out of your wits would provide a whole new cinematic viewing experience onto it self.

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If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Harry Potter lived in the Marvel Universe, this would be your best bet.

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I knew this all seemed too familiar!

 

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Doctor Strange is in Theaters Now

 

 

Ghostbusters (2016) – A Review

“Books Can’t Fly” – Erin Gilbert

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But actually Erin, yes they can.

At least in 1984 they did.

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This 2016 Ghostbusters is built on the bones of the Original Classic, the same way Force Awakens is built on what preceded it.   It feels familiar, all the pieces are seemingly there, the formula (comedic actors in a supernatural laced story about a spectral phenomenon that leads to an impending doom to be defeated by our four blue collar leads) is virtually the same.  However the magic that made the original so special to a generation seems to be lost in this update.  You can have all the ingredients for a great stew, but if you don’t use the right proportions and cook with care, then you risk spoiling the pot.

But tastes vary, and that’s where this movie may split the audience.  First and foremost, this whole One Hour and Fifty Six minute endeavor relies heavily on the audience to accept that there is a good dose of Fridge Logic at play (See Definition Here).  Rules established (not only in this film but in decades old Ghostbusters lore),  are disregarded by the 3rd act.  I can then understand if purists are up in arms when Proton Packs end up annihilating ghosts instead of merely acting as a lasso, rendering the containment traps and the containment unit rather useless in the story, but making for a phenomenal spectacle in the final act.  Is that a satisfactory trade-off?  Maybe.  It’s these instances of the lapse in care for the details that tarnishes the final product, and what we’re left with is what my friend Jay observed quite accurately while exiting the theater: “It’s like a Big Budget, Saturday Night Live spoof of Ghostbusters.”  Which leads me to this:

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Let me take a moment to talk about these women.  I am a loyal and unapologetic fan of Saturday Night Live,  and in particular these four.  Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones were and are some of the best parts of the legacy sketch-show, and guaranteed anytime Melissa McCarthy hosts you’ll laugh your ass off.

These women work hard in the name of comedy and this movie is GENUINELY funny, if anything, solely BECAUSE of these women.

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They really delve into the characters they’ve created, each with their own unique quality that helps drive the movie.  We’re introduced to this version of NYC (So blatantly Boston, where it was actually filmed, with it’s cracked pavement and a hint of colonial architecture) through Kristen Wiig’s Erin Gilbert.  Allegedly our Protagonist who was once all for investigating the paranormal, but then comes to conflict with her former partner & friend Abby Yates (Read: Actual Lead of the movie), after Abby publishes a book of the paranormal they worked on together, which now discredits Erin as a legitimate Scientist and Professor seeking tenure at a prestigious college.  Abby has now befriended Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann who is a quirky, unique and rather punk rock tinkerer who helps construct all the sweet GhostBustin’ gadgets.  We later meet  Leslie Jones’ Patty Tolan who has this great love and a wealth of knowledge of the history of NY that helps give a sense of NYC that seemed to just come naturally in the original.  They embark on their path to becoming a team when Erin is inevitably thrown out of her job at the college and instances of paranormal activity begin to arise.

This all roughly translates to:

Kristen Wiig = Peter

Leslie Jones = Winston

Meslissa McCarthy = Ray

Kate McKinnon = Egon

But Funny doesn’t always Mean Good, or Well Made.

This being the the flip side of this movie’s divide.  If you are looking for plain dumb (and I emphasize dumb) fun, then I’d advise going to the theaters this weekend, because this movie is your sure bet.

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Being a Ghostbusters fan since childhood, I only wished that SONY had treated this property with the care of the characters and the source material that Marvel Studios does with theirs.  If so, then the moments that were meant to feel serious would have done so, balancing and making the comedic elements that much better. Instead, here they are “all-in” with the jokes, making each scene sillier than the next and a far cry from the tonally spooky cold open we’re treated to where comedic actor Zach Woods faces our first instance of paranormal peril as a prankster tour guide.  There is also the shoe-horned cameos of the original remaining cast, which was much appreciated as a fan, but most of which served very little purpose than to appease the fans.  Which leaves me baffled why one certain cameo gets extended to it’s own sequence, seemingly offering something more than fan service, only to be then swept away and never referenced again (Spoiler Alert: a missed opportunity for said cameo to return as a Ghost, as was once a stipulation for said actor to return).  A fun scene, but in actuality only Harold Ramis & Ernie Hudson’s cameo incited reaction from my viewing audience.

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SONY opened the film with an inexplicable logo stating “Ghost Corps”, which gave me chills of a forced “shared universe” and “Franchise” Jump-Starter tease.  Given the uncertainty SONY had of promoting this as a sequel or a reboot, makes the whole thing feel disingenuous.  Not to mention the scathing history of production & controversy so widely  covered elsewhere and done superbly by the Group “Midnight’s Edge” it’s pointless to re-iterate here, But..

..check it out if you got 30 Minutes to kill and that stuff interests you.

 

Lastly the villain falls horribly short.  We meet this sinisterly Down & Out Nerd, who resents society and takes it upon himself to create these “Ghost Bombs”, little machinations that seem to explode and bring forth spectral entities to eventually bring forth and lead a “Ghost Apocalypse”.  This is a classic case of an under-developed villain with unclear motives and endless, tireless, resources.  Not to knock Neil Casey,neil-casey-ghostbuster-bild-news

he nails the role perfectly as I am sure it was written.  Which is literally to mock the internet that lashed out at the production of this movie, painting him in a cliche of vile nerdiness, regardless though it’s his best work since the last 60 seconds of “Mystery Team”.

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But unfortunately he has to share those evil responsibilites with Chris Hemsworth,

who is the hilariously ‘dumb-as-they-come’ receptionist of the Ghostbusters that ends up possessed and mildly villainous near the end,  right about when this movie really starts to unravel.

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The precursor to the final “Giant Something” (Stay Puft, Statue of Liberty, Here: The Ghost from the Ghostbusters logo) that is synonymous with closing out a Ghostbusters movie, is the makings of a dance number lead by Hemsworth meant to delay as to wait upon the arrival of the Ghostbusters.  Yes, the villain waits around for the heroes to show up. Ugh.  Which then, the full sequence was cut out of the movie, but left behind in clips over the credits.  Yes, It’s that kind of movie.

In Closing, this might suit your tastes.  It’s pretty okay for kids, they’d love it. But if you are looking for some of that OG Ghostbusters charm, look no further than right here.

 

 

The Conjuring 2 – A Review

“Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.”  (per IMDB)

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Warner Brothers is Confident in The Conjuring 2.  So much so that they decided to try and capture lightning in a bottle for a 2nd time and release this haunting sequel in the beginnings of the summer season.  A bold move for a film that would seemingly fit well in the fall season on the cusp of Halloween.  But you all loved the first film, Released July 19th, in the dead of summer 2013.  The modest 20 million dollar haunting pulled in $318 Million Worldwide.  A Sequel, from the Studio Perspective, seems like a No Brainer.  But does it live up to the reputation that precedes it?

We start with Ed & Lorraine Warren as they are coming off of the Amityville House case. An Incident that is widely known as it has spun it’s own series of movies.  The Warren’s were very publically involved with the case, and it garnered them a lot of media attention.  This also called into question their validity as many believed they were frauds raveled in a hoax.

Cut to the title sequence and the promise of the Warren’s most diabolical case yet, the story of the Hodgson family.

We follow the Hodgson kids as they exit school and get a sense of who each of them are, primarily Janet who is the youngest daughter and the focus of the paranormal activity yet to come.  As Supernatural events begin to unfold in the house and progressively escalate, the media is brought in and the Warren’s are tapped to investigate.  During this 1st act, I can’t lie I looked at my watch to see where we were  going with this.  The beginning is somewhat of a slow burn.  But the time is not wasted as it sows small threads that pay off in the 3rd act, as Janet Hodgson’s possession comes with a flavor of The Exorcist and an unforeseen twist that ties personally back to the Warren’s personal demons.

Visually this outing takes it up a notch.  James Wan brings intense and chilling haunting sequences that fall in and out of “dream states” that haven’t been this seamless since A Nightmare on Elm Street.  And creature designs that are as chilling as they are menacing.  Inexplicably this film is Rated R for reasons that I can’t quite seem to pinpoint, aside from the allusion a “Rated R” Horror Film can give as a selling point.  But overall, Wan does it better here than he ever could with anything previous from the Furious to the Insidious.  As Ed Warren ventures into their Museum of Haunted Artifacts, he places an item on the shelf and I think back to “Cabin in the Woods” and how every little object was a different story waiting to be told.  I like to consider this the “Endless Sequel/Prequel Room” and want to see more of this loving couple’s adventures in the Paranormal.

In conclusion the only flaw I felt that hinders the movie slightly would be its lengthy run time, going slightly longer than its predecessor at a hefty 2 hours & 14 minutes.  Only a minor gripe stacked against a solid, well told story. It also ends with something that I love from any film that touts itself to be a true story, pictures and audio  from the actual case files.  Showing us the real Warrens, the real Hodgsons, an ominous easy chair and evidence of Janet’s possession.

Also, Patrick Wilson may have just publicly auditioned for an Elvis Presley Bio-Pic.  Go to the theaters this weekend.  You’ll see.