Power Rangers – Movie Review

Hold on to your power morphers.

HEADS UP!

  • This review was “pre-gamed” in a previous post! If you’d like to read up on some juicy background and what I was looking for when I walked in the theater, click here!
  • This review contains NO major plot spoilers. Other easter-eggs and points already public on the internet before the release may be discussed. Enjoy!

“Power Rangers” is directed by Dan Israelite and is a story about 5 struggling teenagers who end up becoming armor-clad superheroes to save the world from evil. Unless you lived under a rock during your childhood, you also know that this is another big-screen reboot of an extremely popular kid’s show, and that caused many to audibly groan when they first heard this was happening.

I really don’t know what to say, guys. I genuinely didn’t expect this movie to be so…GOOD. I know the Tomatometer is rating it pretty low, but if you don’t know what the tomatometer actually is by now PLEASE remember that it is an aggregate score of all the reviewers that chose to critique the movie and if they found it “rotten” or “fresh”…it isn’t just a simple average of scores. If you paid attention to what was being said by film critics that actually grew up with this content, you would know that it was the right amount of faithful and right amount of different that we just haven’t seen in these “childhood cartoon reboots”.

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The most important thing about this movie was the characters who were surprisingly all fleshed out and pretty relatable. They were all just kids dealing with their own demons…and it worked really well. The standout performance goes to RJ Cyler playing Billy/The Blue Ranger for some of the best acting I’ve seen in a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster, and for being talented enough to portray a character with a mental health disorder. Ludi Lin, who played Zack/The Black Ranger, was just fantastic as well. His performance and character almost makes up for all the crap that asian-americans have received in Hollywood in the past year. I was initially worried about Becky G (a teen pop-star) playing Trini/The Yellow Ranger..especially due to the immense pressure of doing justice to the original Yellow Ranger who passed away very young and was the only original who couldn’t make it to the movie…but I definitely regret doubting her because she convinced me that she was the only one in her family that “wasn’t normal” and struggled with it constantly. Even Jason/The Red Ranger and Kimberly/The Pink Ranger (WOOHOO THE FIRST INDIAN POWER RANGER. TOOK US LONG ENOUGH, DAMN. AND SHE’S FEMALE TOO? BLESS UP), who were the most “vanilla” characters in the original, got an arc each that was pretty realistic and relatable, which was awesome because my obsession with the Red Ranger started with “Time Force” season of Power Rangers where he was the “screw up” of the group. This reminded me a lot of that, and believe me when I say that you actually care about ALL of the Rangers…rather than watching a Transformers movie and secretly hoping that the main characters get run over. These were not some expendable teeny-boppers, this wasn’t an “edgy” reboot of characters you loved. These well-acted characters were teenagers with attitudes…they WERE the Rangers.

Even the bigger name celebrities actually felt like they wanted to be there, which is unusual for these kinds of projects. Bryan Cranston as Zordon was just awesome, and Bill Hader as Alpha-5 was a much less annoying but just as lovable version of the popular robot (HE SAID “AY YI YI” AND I WAS SO HAPPY). Oddly enough, I think Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa might’ve gone a little too 90’s on us, but hey it reminded me of the original Rita and I was fine with it in the end.

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The Rangers actually don’t spend that much time in their power suits, and I’m okay with that because they spend time developing the characters. They fall victim to some of the “origin story” cliches we’ve come to know and tolerate, but it really does almost feel like a sci-fi “Breakfast Club” for a bit. There is a drastic change in tone from when the movie starts to when Rita confronts Trini because they drag just a little bit in the second act and its as if the writers suddenly realized “Oh, wait a minute…we have to wrap this up and make the final fight happen! Uhh…okay here it goes!”. Additionally there’s some REALLY bad product placement in the movie and I almost wish it was toned-down a bit/wasn’t there entirely but hey, the final fight happens and It just keeps getting better. They say “It’s Morphin Time”, they fight the putty-patrollers, the theme song comes back (!!!!), the original actors for Tommy/The Green Ranger and Kimberly/The Pink Ranger have a cameo, the MegaZord vs Goldar fight happens and the entire theater applauded ALL of this (we had a great audience). This whole thing was the right amounts of knowing the source material, knowing how campy you have to be at times, knowing when seriousness is appropriate…my friends and I all loved it. There also IS a mid-credits scene that just made me happier. Guys, we’re getting a POWER RANGERS movie franchise that starts in 2017…and I couldn’t be more pleased.

I’m doing something different this time for my rating, I will just say this: IF  you watched power rangers as a kid in any capacity, you will like this movie. If you grew-up with power rangers and watched multiple seasons, you will LOVE this movie. If you didn’t watch much power rangers but know how to have stupid fun at the movies, you should give it a try. If you didn’t watch power rangers at all and just don’t care about sci-fi/superhero franchises and only watch “films”…please don’t see this and try to “filmsplain” it to casual moviegoers/people who love their childhood shows. You have no business watching this if you don’t have the nostalgia at all or don’t know how to have fun with dumb movies, save your money and your time and don’t be THAT guy that ends  up on /r/iamverysmart.

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As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’re as excited about a movie like this that respected its source material as I am! 2017 has been great for nerdy movies so far, lets hope it stays that way!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!

Pre-gaming “Power Rangers”

It’s Morphin Time.

Welcome all to the first installment of a new Soggz Blogs segment called “Pre-gaming”. Basically, these posts will be a preview to the actual film review that should come shortly after where I run down things like: Success/failure of previous related content, personal biases, production issues, what I got from trailers, and what my personal expectations are. This way for my actual movie review, I can jump straight into the movie itself without much background!

So following the trend of reboots and big-budget versions of your favorite childhood shows, “Power Rangers” is being produced and distributed by Lionsgate and is based on the giant 24 season television franchise featuring colorful teenage martial artists (with attitude, of course). This particular movie is based off of the first season (and the one you probably remember the most), “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers”.

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Now I know when Transformers and TMNT were being rebooted for the silver screen, many indulged it out of nostalgia from their childhoods. I DO remember these shows and remember the cooler moments enough to have favorite characters (Optimus Prime/Raphael respectively, for the record) but they weren’t huge attachments for me. However…if you were to ask me what my FIRST real fictional obsession was..and I’m talking WAY before Batman, Spiderman, even before Dragon Ball Z or Pokemon…it was 100% Power Rangers.

I used to eat, sleep, and breathe Power Rangers. Halloween? Red Ranger costume. Friends of my parents asking me what I want to be when I grow up? Red Ranger. Favorite toys? my 3 different Megazord sets. Snack time at school? Power Rangers fruit snacks. First fictional character I ever related to? Wesley Collins: Red Time Force Ranger. First crush? Pink Lightspeed Ranger Wanted something to binge watch during the summer I came back from one year at college? 5 seasons of Power Rangers. At the age of 22, I’m still well-versed in my Ranger lore from “Mighty Morphin'” all the way to “Dino Thunder” and I even remember theme songs and morphing sequences. In case I haven’t emphasized it enough: I. LOVE. POWER RANGERS.

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The moment in my childhood where I started believing that good things happen.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I’m very vocal about making things needlessly “dark and gritty” and that some things just aren’t meant for a big screen adaptation. I loathe the Transformers and TMNT movies, and even mentioning “Dragon Ball Evolution” could make me angrier than the Hulk. So when I saw THIS trailer…you can bet I was worried:

  1. Barely any color…in a POWER RANGERS TRAILER
  2. 2 seconds of half a ranger suit
  3. Looked like a lifetime drama
  4. It just didn’t even seem like Power Rangers..huge disappointment

In my opinion…to make a good live-action adaptation of something like this, you have to recognize why people liked it. This show was for kids, so it should retain some of that classic 90’s campy feel that we’ve all come to love. To make it a watchable movie, just develop your characters and give people real motivations and arcs, don’t wipe your butt with the source material and disrespect it, and add a bunch of pretty CGI shots with explosions. I don’t think its unfair for audiences to want SOME quality of plot and character development with their block-buster “popcorn movies”, as there are so many of that nature now. I’m just not a fan of the “oh its so dumb but it looks cool, so whatever” logic that basically bankrolls more garbage in the theater. I DEFINITELY don’t believe in the Michael Bay method of hyper-sexualizing your female lead, having horrible characters that you kind of want Megatron to brutally murder, and having a LITERAL SHOT WHERE DOGS WERE HUMPING. Most of all, I wanted some nostalgia, something to make me feel like I was a kid again watching the Power Rangers..except way cooler. That’s why when we got THIS trailer….I couldn’t contain how excited I was:

  1. It just felt right from the start, teenagers being stupid with each other
  2. We get to see Zordon, Alpha 5, and the command center clearly
  3. The Kanye song drops AND we see Rita…okay, way better so far…
  4. OH MY GOD THEY SAID “Its Morphin Time”??!? TAKE MY MONEY. TAKE IT NOW.
  5. WAIT WHAT?? MEGAZORD VS GOLDAR. I REPEAT, MEGAZORD VS GOLDAR!!!!!1

In all honesty, I am SO excited to see this movie on Friday. Am I going in with the same expectations I have of the MCU or Star Wars or Star Trek? Definitely not…even as a fan, I know to scale my expectations down by now. As long as they don’t try too hard to add “grit” into this and its a fun movie that makes me nostalgic…I will be happy with this movie.

Power Rangers releases on Friday, March 24th and I should have my review up the next morning. Thanks for reading, support for Soggz Blogs is appreciated as always!

Oh, and GO GO POWER RANGERS.

 

Logan – Movie Review

Insert “Hurt” by Johnny Cash here

Back when Y2K was the most ridiculous thing we had ever heard of and back when I was in the first grade (I know…), Australian actor Hugh Jackman first appeared on the big screen as Wolverine, one of the most iconic comic book characters/Poster-Hero of the X-men. For 17 years, Jackman appeared as Wolverine in various X-men movies and was always met with positive reception.

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It has been a crazy ride seeing so many superheroes come and go on the silver screen, but Jackman has been a constant for me through my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. I’m a HUGE fan of Jackman’s Wolverine, and when I heard this was his last time, all I wanted was for him to have his swan song and be remembered for how amazing he is.

To be perfectly honest…this is a tough one. I was silent for a few minutes after the movie was over, I distracted myself, slept on it, and thought about it on my morning commute…and I’m still a little unsure of where EXACTLY I stand. However, as of me writing this sentence…”Logan” is one of the best comic book films I’ve ever seen.

First thing to get out of the way, holy WOW this is a bloody one. The R-rating is fully utilized, and every fight scene is a plethora of gore and stabbing…and I LOVE IT. They even got Wolverine’s fighting style right, adapting it to account for the lacking physical state of the character as well.

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The lazy analysis I’ve been seeing lately is along the lines of “Logan is the Dark Knight of X-Men” or that “People are going to debate for years between Logan and the Dark Knight”. Let me shut this down right now, “Logan” is different from, and not as good as, “The Dark Knight”. The reason I understand why this comparison is being made is because, like Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films, Director James Mangold decides to incorporate a lot of realism when it comes to the themes of the film. Add in the fact that both directors understood their characters and the situations these characters are in 100%. While different in the sense that “The Dark Knight” is Batman’s fall from grace, and “Logan” is about what Wolverine will do after already fallen far beyond recognition, the two films both feel very real and can connect to a larger audience. Similarly, this is why “The Empire Strikes Back” is revered as the best of the Star Wars films, because we see the Rebellion struggle in a very human way and we love those characters. Unfortunately, this translated over to “So ALL OF IT has to be dark and gritty?” in the realm of comic/sci-fi movies and caused some problems, but Logan was a nice reminder that it is possible to achieve similar tones without sacrificing clarity, sanity, and originality. So, yes, I see why the comparison is being made…and while you can draw similarities, other criticism of “Logan” using the Nolan trilogy should stop there. Its different, and X-Men deserves this win.

Emphasizing on Mangold’s understanding of the character, even the first sequence we see with old man Logan just feels like he’s letting himself down. This is the most beat-down version of a hero I’ve seen…Logan isn’t just depressed for the sake of it. This guy is so obviously broken, lost, apathetic…he’s simply lost all will to do anything, and therefore doesn’t know why he is doing anything in the first place. Throughout the film, Logan avoids purpose even when it is staring him right in the face.

Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier also delivers one last time. To me, he represented the small good part of Wolverine that might still be in there, which is why I love that the two constantly bicker, almost as if Logan is constantly denying who he is “supposed to be”…but he is still taking care of the 90 year old Professor because he owes that much to Xavier and himself.

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There are a few imperfections I think are present in this film. The first one being, there isn’t much of a villain. You don’t really have a “Joker”  or…anyone really. Yes, there’s a solid plot structure and there are “bad hombres” (couldn’t resist)…but you can’t really point to someone to bring out a unique anger in Wolverine…because he’s pretty much just angry half the time anyway. Additionally, the flow gets somewhat interrupted in the second act and focus veers off a bit from Logan himself. It ties together when you look at it as a whole, but in the moment one could feel a slight drag in the 2nd act.

Despite the lack of a sinister presence, Logan does have a motivator. Logan and Xavier are traveling with a young girl, Laura…who I will not say much about for the sake of keeping things spoiler free.

The other notable thing is that this movie doesn’t do the “classic comic book movie” thing of setting anything up. This is it, what you see is what you get..and they’re focused on telling this one story. The greater X-Men universe is referenced slightly, but a new fan could jump right in to “Logan” not knowing much and still feel unexpectedly moved by it.

Since the X-Men have come and gone in this distant future where “Logan” takes place, the stories and legends are all documented in the form of comic books, where Wolverine is viewed as a fearless hero…so to see him at such an opposite end of who he used to be just makes the film so tragically beautiful.

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I feel almost blessed to have seen Jackman’s Wolverine portrayal through for 17 years. This is one of those things that I’m going to be an annoying Grandpa about ~60 years from now…never shutting up about how back in my day, Hugh Jackman was Wolverine and he was the best (assuming the X-men get a reboot at some point because studios love money and eventually people run out of ideas….right?).

“Logan” is gut-wrenching, and feels somewhat fresh after being bombarded with DCEU nonsense and the MCU doing what they have to do…at the risk of overselling it just a little bit, “Logan” gets a soggz-blogs rating of 9.5/10.