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Movie Review: ‘Power Rangers’ Mighty Morphs into a Clunky Blockbuster

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Power Rangers 2017 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Power Rangers is heavy on the nostalgia, but does it do the old show justice? Read our movie review to find out!

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s the strangest feeling to view something you grew up watching after school on television replicated on the big screen for a new generation. I recall being so into the Power Rangers that did battle with monsters that I’d draw pictures of the golden-winged ape Goldar clashing swords with the heroic Megazord robot. I thought to myself while watching the new Goldar and new Megazord battle on screen if today’s kids would be able to draw these figures. Even at the age of nine, I could easily draw the simple shapes and colors of the monsters and robots, but I think it’d be a lot tougher when the Megazord appears as a mess of metal and Goldar looks like a glob of living mustard. Why must we shirk iconic designs for cluttered and complicated splattering of computer graphics?

Power Rangers 2017 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

The new ranger lineup.

These odd redesigns all come with the package of trying to turn Power Rangers into a more serious young adult hero picture. Or at least as serious as it can be for a picture that seems to have taken a big cue from the Michael Bay school of toy franchise filmmaking. The opening scene of the previous heroes being grittily killed in combat is quickly followed up with a scene where a student has accidentally masturbated a bull. When I saw this scene, I strapped in and set my expectations low. Thankfully, this bull joke does not come full-circle and the most disgusting gag that follows is one of the teens referring to the act of Morphing as something you do in the shower.

If we must live in a world where a Power Rangers movie is to be given a serious treatment, director David Israelite does make a decent call of trying to focus more on the dynamic between the five teens chosen to defend Earth. We get to know most of these characters as the outsiders of high school, the majority of them introduced in a detention scene straight out of The Breakfast Club. Jason (Dacre Montgomery) is the jock that went one prank too far that resulted in him being kicked off the football team. He soon befriends the autistic nerd Billy (RJ Cyler) and begins to fall for the popular-turned-outcast Kimberly (Naomi Scott).

Power Rangers 2017 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Just a regular group of teens.

The remaining characters of the bad-boy Zack (Ludi Lin) and anti-social Trini (Becky G) are given rather abrupt introductions, as they don’t show up until the other three venture to the town’s local mines. What’re they doing at the mines? Advancing the plot so they can get to the Power Rangers action. The five of them proceed quickly through most of the exposition in the most cliché and clunky of writing and editing. But considering how much of a long and daunting road they have to travel before we actually get to the star attraction, the audience must accept that the five of them are casual enough to proceed with the extraordinary superhero plot.

The story is nothing new or unexpected for a superhero origins tale. The evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) has awakened from her slumber and seeks to destroy Earth. After seemingly millions of years being stuck underwater, she looks very much like a modern movie witch. Her plan is to find a McGuffin crystal that can destroy the planet and needs her giant golden monster Goldar to retrieve it. One would need an awful lot of gold to assemble such a creature, but Rita seems to find just enough from tooth fillings and jewelry stores. I feel more robbed than the jewelry store that there wasn’t a more impressive scene where she storms Fort Knox.

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The all-powerful crystal McGuffin happens to be located inside a Krispy Kreme. Of course, the characters will clearly say Krispy Kreme whenever they refer to the crystal located inside a Krispy Kreme. The action-packed climax must temporarily cease so that Rita can enter a Krispy Kreme and eat a Krispy Kreme donut. I thought this was supposed to be a feature-length toy commercial, not a donut commercial.

Power Rangers 2017 Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa.

While I’d like to praise the film for spending the majority of its time with the Power Rangers out of their suits and bonding together, it’s handled rather poorly with an onslaught of lame humor and inconsistent valleys in their relationships. Throughout the picture is a constant repetition of basic team origin morals; they need to work together, they need to open up, they need to be honest, etc. True, the movie does adhere closely to this formula from the TV show, but it just goes to show how inconsistent this picture truly is with its tone. For every moment when a character makes a somber confession of their frustrating times at school and at home, there’s another where they stammer for a funny line, desperate to insert comedy into nearly every scene. I don’t know, I somehow thought there should be more knowing humor for a picture with a villain called Rita Repulsa.

Read more for the rest of the Power Rangers movie review:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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