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Movie Review: Power Rangers

Image result for power rangers movie poster free useI don’t want to write about this. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen it and I still don’t want to write about it.

Power Rangers was one of the most prevalent shows of the 90’s. It was hip in the same way a stereotypical surfer dude is. It paraded histrionics and embraced comedy. It was the Schwarzenegger of kid’s television. Cornier than corn-on-the-cob and as lighthearted as an action show can be, Power Rangers, if it knew anything, knew its tone. It understood, without any reservations, its identity.

Power Rangers starts off with a sex joke. Nothing like a brazen, out-of-left-field sex joke to welcome an audience of 8-year-olds.

It is a sledgehammer to the mirror of reality for fans. I actually turned to my friend and was like, “Wow. Really? This is where we’re going with this?”

It’s a slow and long way down from that point forward and that point wasn’t too far from the start.

It wipes the floor with the concept of the Power Rangers before it even began. It was never meant to be a character exploration nor did it ever dissolve into a puddle of cheap filth, but our screenwriters and director here, in their infinite wisdom, decided sex jokes were the proper introduction of a Power Rangers movie.

It is simply disrespectful to the material. 90’s television was innocent and genuine. The dialogue was the food equivalent of cotton candy. There was never much substance there but the humor always kept it sweet and worth watching. You certainly could never say the Power Rangers was jaded. If anything, it was unnaturally enthusiastic, to the point that it was near impossible to take the show seriously. Rather than try to change that perception, the original crew carried it along, feeding into an adventure that caused no serious consequences. The world was at the brink of destruction, but I as a viewer was never concerned. The Power Rangers would get it done.

Dean Israelite decides to add a fresh spin on the saga. Rather than collude with the previous makers and look to manifest an allusion of the past, of this time when things weren’t so serious, Israelite decides he wants a dire story and then, along with RJ Cyler’s “strategic” weirdness, try to package it together into this antique with a fresh polish job and, somehow, a new feel to it.

If anything, Power Rangers is a movie that clearly wants to be taken serious but also wants to stay loyal to its predecessors, and to do both takes a surgeon’s hand and scientist’s attention to detail, neither of which a director who just made his film debut in 2015 possesses.

I’m perplexed by producers handing blockbusters to inexperienced directors and have been for quite a few years now. If I ever figure out the rationale, I’ll let you know. Until then, I’ll keep mentioning it, like I did a few weeks ago when I wrote Kong: Skull Island.

Not only is this Power Rangers a different animal from its parent, it’s a whole different species altogether, and worse, clearly out of its league.

There never was enough character concrete in the originals to allow for adult discussions on anything. Yes, we would have the adolescent lessons of loyalty and staying true to your values, but these teachings do not require an anthology to understand, nor a lot of inner turmoil for the viewer. Israelite wants to say something more meaningful, but he never gets around to saying what that thing is. If he does, it skipped past me because the movie doesn’t do much to keep you looking if only to see when this train wreck is going to end. The acting is withdrawn and without characters to feel for, audience engagement is difficult. I at no point feel a part of this experience. I hesitate to even use the word. Seems like an injustice to utilize it in this context.

It’s a reboot that’s formulaic rather than artistic and scientific rather than illustrative. Compromised by the expositional hose, Power Rangers doesn’t feel like a movie so much as it is a traversing of the lifeless and dormant. I’ve been on this ride more than a few times and it lost its entertainment value long ago.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Doctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Great WallRobin HoodUnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: Apocalypse)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Most Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the Apes)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Power Rangers: 47.

This movie has Bryan Cranston in it, by the way, if you were looking for another reason to cry yourself to sleep. Israelite misses on the power of nostalgia with this one. Like, completely, and without that thread from the past and that alchemy those crews performed in the 90s, Power Rangers fails to be itself.

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The Art of the Trailer

Hey guys, it’s been forever. It’s spring break so I’m getting caught up on all my writing, reading and TV shows. I’m going to get some movies in this week, I’m starting up a new series and I’ve got this long feature for you. Enjoy!

Trailers are one of the most important jobs in Hollywood because even if your movie is garbage, if you make a good trailer, people will flock to it like geese to bread. It’ll make tons of money. People will hate you once they get out of the theater if your movie was in fact garbage, but you made your payday. Good for you.

I say that because rarely do I fall for the Hollywood trailer gimmick, as I like to call it. I can usually tell by a trailer if a film is going to be any good or not. I’m not saying I haven’t seen bad movies at the theater. I have but that’s usually because I knew it was going to be bad or didn’t have high expectations for it in the first place. Rarely do films surprise me with their stupidity is what I’m trying to say.

So today, I’m talking about the art of the trailer, why trailers are so important, etc, etc. Five great ones. Better they are, bigger the pictures.

Godzilla wasn’t liked by some but I personally loved it. I thought it was the film that Godzilla fans like myself had been waiting for. Yes, Godzilla didn’t have a lot of screen time but it was still a blast. The suspense was great and it worked well with the final product which can be seen with this trailer.

Bryan Cranston’s narration at the beginning of this teaser was a huge plus. To follow up his phenomenal TV drama, Breaking Bad, which I hope to start this week, he delivered an exuberant performance to start off this blockbuster.

This film was all about the anticipation and suspense of seeing the giant lizard behemoth and that was both this trailer and this film’s greatest success.

A simple score, coupled with some narration from Cranston and from Ken Watanabe, aligned with some visuals that foreshadowed some of the plot as well as the visual effects we were to witness with this summer blockbuster. That Godzilla roar at the end to top it all off was a great bravo.

One of my greatest regrets of 2014 was not seeing Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Some reviews I read weren’t flattered by the material but regardless of whether it’s a monumental discovery in film-making or a treasureless venture, I know I have to see this film because this trailer was pretty great.

Something that can really boost a trailer is a fantastic score and Hans Zimmer never fails to impress me with his compositions. Music is capable of things that no other form of art can describe. You can only visualize so much through your eyes but with your mind, you can imagine everything. If you know anything about the art of trailer-making, you’ve got to know that. The guys who worked on this beauty certainly did.

Second, we need to know what your film is about, at least a little bit. A general plot synopsis in under three minutes. For action films, that should be pretty simple: gunshots, rockets, grenades, explosions, insert catch phrase here, coming November 2015. Done. For dramas like this, we need more than that. We need something to instill belief in us, make our spine tingle. Give us some dialogue that alludes to the plot, what we’re investing in.

Third, narration, narration, narration. The tool of narration is easily the most important tool in trailer-making. The voice of an actor reading thought-provoking lines will almost always hook an audience but the voice you choose is equally important. I intend to be offensive here because I hate the guy, but if I ever had to listen to Vince Vaughn deliver an opening monologue to a trailer, I think I would vomit all over myself and have to leave the theater. Three big names come to mind: Morgan Freeman, Russell Crowe and James Earl Jones. These guys have voices that paralyze you and no matter what comes out, you can’t stop listening. They have commanding voices that demand attention and that’s what your trailer should be reaching for: attention.

Matthew McConaughey has that type of voice, as does Michael Caine and they use it to incredible effect here. What they’re saying is just as memorable and instilling to your emotions.

Overall, the plot synopsis was a little weak, because aside from space exploration I didn’t get much from this, but the monologues and dialogue is fantastic and still has me hooked.

Next up on this list is a film that just opened up this weekend and was one of my most anticipated films of the year: Chappie.

As soon as the screen read “The Director of District 9“, I knew I was going to see this, but this trailer does so much more than put a director’s name on the screen.

Again, Hans Zimmer on the score. He makes it seem so easy, the way he inspires. Again and again, this guy’s name comes up and again and again I leave amazed with the product he delivers. Seriously, that guy needs a raise.

Something this film utilizes is a black screen with words on it. If you’re going to make a trailer, do this sparingly because no one wants to read a trailer. They want to see it, hear it, visualize it, imagine the future product they might be investing themselves in. You want to get people excited, get their spine tingling. This trailer does all of that, but unlike Interstellar, chose to put words on the screen. Every word you put on the screen’s got to mean something. It needs to have a purpose and a drive to it. Chappie’s trailer does that.

It’s always nice if you can showcase who’s in your movie without me having to look at a cast list. Hugh Jackman gets some screen time with this as does Dev Patel, but it’s Chappie that gets the attention and deservedly so.

If you can present themes in your trailer, you’re really reaching for the stars and Chappie does that. There’s a line in the trailer: “People are always fearful of something they don’t understand.” We’ve all heard this statement before but this is one of the numerous themes in this sci-fi epic that hits home with its viewers. I applaud the makers of this for getting themes into the trailer because if you’ve had the chance to see Chappie yet, you know it’s all about the themes and the character that Chappie emboldens, someone who starts out innocent and quickly realizes what a mess the world is.

Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, had the best trailer of 2014 in my opinion. It’s plot synopsis was on point. Unbroken, based off this trailer, is clearly a film about identity, about finding yourself and about believing in yourself to an extent that doesn’t seem possible at first glance. It’s about having an unbreakable resolve.

Once again, some great dialogue from our actors along with a score from 2014 Academy Award winner Alexander Desplat to bolster the heart this trailer offers.

That’s something I have yet to talk about when it comes to trailers: heart. We want to know the plot, we want to get pumped for this feature, but we also want some heart. You don’t have to pull heart-strings but we should care about our protagonist’s plight. We should be able to put ourselves in his shoes. Some characters aren’t very relatable, but for the sake of the trailer, it’s your job to present him as such. What can we gather from his tale? What application does the story have to our lives? These are not all musts, but if you’re able to answer a question like this or similar to this in your trailer, it’s a big plus. This story and really this whole film is about heart and being resilient to the torment you face, no matter what that torment is.

Something I think I’ve mentioned with all these trailers is their ability to pull out the gold nuggets of dialogue their film contains. Unbroken‘s trailer was no different.

Similar to Chappie, they also put words on the screen, but these words also had purpose and a goal to strive towards:

“A rebel who became a champion. A champion who became a survivor. A survivor who wouldn’t be broken.”

True, this film didn’t come close to reaching the excellence that the trailer did, but it had its moments.

Finally and with no real contestants to challenge it, my favorite trailer of the last two years goes to:

Man of Steel. This trailer breathes awesome and eats Wheaties for breakfast. Man of Steel is one of my favorite movies of the past five years, hands down. It’s not one of the best of the last five years, I only gave it an 87 but I love it all the same.

Prior to this film, I hated Superman. The whole concept of Superman is just stupid. He’s invincible, with no weakness except for a green rock from his planet, which was blown up and therefore should not exist but by some completely unexpected and not at all being sarcastic here coincidence, manages to find its way into Lex Luthor’s hands time and time again.

But this trailer and this movie made me believe in the man of steel again. I’ve never seen a Superman movie so well done and after years of garbage that cinema fans had to trudge through, Zack Snyder gave us this beauty, but not before releasing this premium trailer that takes people to school.

Again, music is a huge thing and again Hans Zimmer cracks one outta the park. Hans Zimmer and John Williams are the best composers in theatrical music right now, with Howard Shore coming up behind and if you get them to work on your splendors, you won’t regret it. This trailer features the theme of Man of Steel, which won my Best Score award for 2013.

Man of Steel parades its’ cast list around and they’re all memorable clips that hit you where it counts. Russell Crowe’s voice was meant for narration. Kevin Costner’s fatherly image, Michael Shannon’s now infamous, “I WILL FIND HIM!” Henry Cavill’s soft-spoken voice fitting perfectly with the character, the list goes on and on.

The slow fades went well with the anticipation that Zimmer’s score is unleashing on the stereo and when the music reaches the climax, so does the action sequences and visual effects, which in my opinion, were the best of 2013.

I have this trailer favorited on my Youtube channel if you can believe that.

 

What are your favorite trailers? Let me know in the description.

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Movie Review: Godzilla

To start things off, I was thinking about my reviews last week and I decided to change my grading scale. I feel it will make my reviews more helpful, specific and accurate to you guys. I’ve also gone back through all my reviews, again, and adjusted my scores to the new scale, which is why I haven’t posting anything over the last week and a half. In short, new scale, better reviews, and Tim’s happy. I apologize for the switch but I really do think it will make a difference.

Moving on, Godzilla. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, shame on you. If you have, congratulations. You’re part of the general populace. You know what the general populace hasn’t seen in a very long time? A good Godzilla movie. It’s been a while. We all grew up with the Toho films and every American adaptation has nose-dived into the pavement. I didn’t hate the 1998 Godzilla film with Matthew Broderick, which was more of a corny comedy than an action film, but it wasn’t what people were looking for. People want to see chaotic destruction, monsters punching other monsters in the face and people running and screaming for their lives.

With all that said, not since The Avengers have I seen a film with so much pressure to succeed. We already knew this movie was going to make tons of money at the box office. That’s a given. Everyone wants to see a Godzilla movie. I’m talking about succeeding in terms of giving the U.S of A. the monster movie that we’ve been waiting for for quite a while now. All the critics have been waiting for this to come out and I’m sure they all brought their magnifying glasses to nitpick at every little thing this movie did wrong, just waiting for this movie to misstep or lose its balance, anything that would allow them to put this movie on the chopping block.

I didn’t go in with that approach but my expectations were high because I was just as anxious for this movie to come out as everyone else. I wanted to see Godzilla blow things up and make whole cities look like sandcastles.

The big question: Was the wait worth it? Cue Jeopardy music and drum roll please.

Yes, yes it was. Despite a relatively inexperienced cast and a rookie director in Gareth Edwards, Godzilla still manages to thrill audiences with its visual and special effects as well as some passable acting from newcomers Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Taylor-Johnson and Olsen’s acting isn’t incredible, but they’re doing what we need them to do. They’re making us feel like we’re there, displaying some emotions, showing us what it feels like to be in that situation, living within a couple of miles, even a couple of feet from the king of all monsters.

Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe don’t get a lot of screen time in this film but they make their presence felt time and time again. As with most Godzilla movies, the plot involves a lot of actors in front of the camera for the majority of the screen time, which once again I don’t think is what people were looking for when they went to see this. Can someone just make a two-hour film where more than 50% of the film involves Godzilla in rage mode? Please? That would be really cool. With that said, I’m not displeased with this movie in the slightest because the story we’re given aside from the monster battles is compelling. When you watched Godzilla movies as a kid, you probably didn’t care about the characters we were presented with and the human story line. You just wanted to see Godzilla blow things up. I still want to see Godzilla blow things up here, but I actually care about the movie as a whole, not just the parts where I get to see Godzilla. It’s a full product where I get to enjoy every bit of it. I’m not saying the Toho films weren’t revolutionary or entertaining, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say the characters weren’t all that meaningful in those films. Here, the characters meant something. Instead of watching half a monster movie and half a borefest like Pacific Rim, I ended up getting half a monster movie with some coordinated, relevant subplots to keep me interested until Godzilla came out from behind the curtain again.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Spider-Man 2Captain America: The Winter SoldierMr. & Mrs. SmithPrisonersSecretariat)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (DivergentSpider-Man 3Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Young Guns, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Captain America: The First AvengerDawn of the DeadFlyboys300Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The Long Kiss GoodnightDodgeball: A True Underdog StoryDisaster MovieThe Incredible HulkGodzilla(1998) )

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Alien ResurrectionFull Metal JacketThorYou’re NextThe Starving Games)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (AlienSerendipityCowboys and Aliens300: Rise of an Empire, A Haunted House)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The ContractPride and PrejudiceRedemption)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All FearsThor: The Dark World)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight CowboyDark FuryAlien 3Open Grave)

My score for Godzilla: 93.

While the pressure for this film to succeed seemed infinite, a successful American Godzilla movie has finally been made. Godzilla may not be perfect, but it’s a huge improvement from the memories of the past and is definitely a must-see and must-buy on its way to becoming one of the biggest box office hits of the summer.

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