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Power Rangers – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Power Rangers40

Five teenagers with attitude discover five alien artifacts that have been lost on Earth for millennia.  Together, with these power coins and their potential unlocked, they become the Power Rangers, defending the Earth against all levels of threat! 

Well, okay, it wasn’t that straightforward.  Three of the five teenagers meet at weekend detention like in The Breakfast Club, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler) attend Angel Grove High together.  Jason was a star athlete who rolled his car and injured his knee during a police chase after a prank gone wrong.  Kimberly leaked photos of a rival in a compromising position to the entire school.  Billy is autistic and the target of bullies…I don’t remember why he was in detention, but he was.  In detention Jason protects Billy from a bully, making them friends.  Billy overrides Jason’s house arrest ankle bracelet and the two are off on an adventure where they find Kimberly and meet Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G) in a local quarry, a quarry where Billy and his dad used to hunt for scrap metals and treasures before he died.  Blasting apart a quarry wall, they find five glowing coins: red, pink, blue, black and yellow.  These coins give the youths strength they couldn’t imagine, but they are not Power Rangers yet.  Meeting Alpha Five (Bill Hader) who takes them to Zordon (Bryan Cranston) they train and eventually bond, forming a team who can finally morph into the Power Rangers, set to defend the Earth from Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).

You know what, I actually really enjoyed this.  Sure it was 90% cheese, but it was nostalgia, and it was fun.  Yes, it was an origin story so getting to the action was a little slow, but the story developed the characters fairly well, and had a lot of heart behind it.  I liked how they managed to make a fairly intelligent story out of what was effectively an after-school show for kids.  Zordon was a former Red Ranger, Rita was part of his team as the Green Ranger.  Her monster Goldar was created when she managed to steal enough gold to make him.  Sure there were some plot holes and head scratching moments (the Pink Ranger was in detention for spreading revenge porn?  SPOILER: Rita drowns the Blue Ranger and instead of anyone giving him mouth to mouth or CPR they take him miles away to Zordon’s hidden Power Ranger base?), but I enjoyed it.

I liked the effects, and I liked the costumes.  Whenever there is a movie of this type, you have to get the costumes right, and the new “armoured” look was a lot more practical for fighting space aliens than spandex ever was.  All the actors really did a great job, from the seasoned veterans like Cranston (who voiced several monsters on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV 1993-1995) and Banks to the newcomers.  They each really seemed to have fun in the roles, and they all fit their updated characters.  The characters also seemed quite realistic.  Black Ranger Zack seems moody and aloof, but is really concerned about his mother’s ailing health.  Yellow Ranger Trini has problems with her parents (it’s hinted that she’s either bi-sexual or a lesbian).  Red Ranger Jason and Pink Ranger Kimberly both are dealing with the consequences of their past decisions, and Blue Ranger Billy is still dealing with the loss of his father, but really is the heart of the group, and the most enthusiastic about becoming a “super hero”.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel, but apparently that is in doubt.  I’ve heard that the film did not perform as well as the studio had hoped, and that the director thinks the PG-13 rating may have had some affect on it.  The reasoning is that with the slightly higher rating, families may not have been as likely to watch the film.  From what I could tell, the primary reason the film got the PG-13 instead of a PG rating was swearing.   A few times the language was a little more “colourful” than you would expect for a property mainly directed at children.  I think that something the director could have controlled and taken out of if the potential rating worried him.  They could have even fixed it in post production.  Power Rangers was a solidly entertaining popcorn flick, plain and simple.  You would be disappointed if you were looking to take more than that from it.

Bottom Line: Nice that it wasn’t just a simple rehash of the television series.  I liked the cameos (Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson) but would have liked more.  Where were Bulk and Skull?  Even if they didn’t have the actual actors (Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy) from the original series, it would have been a nice nod to have the characters show up.


Sausage Party – ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Sausage Party25

I had high hopes for Sausage Party, I really did.  I saw the red band trailer, and laughed out loud.  It looked hilarious, food that doesn’t know it’s purpose is to be eaten by humans, and then I watched the movie.  Could the religious and political veil be any thinner?  Could they have sworn any more in the movie?  Could they make up their mind as to what they wanted this movie to be?  Was it supposed to be a political commentary? a religious commentary? an atheist commentary? a teenage sex comedy?  a hippie/druggie comedy?  Watching the bonus features on the disc gave me pretty much all the I needed to answer “what happened to Sausage Party“. 

The “plot” of the movie is fairly simple, a hot dog named Frank (Seth Rogen) and a bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig) have fallen in love and dream of being together in paradise when they’re purchased and taken from the store, but along the way they fall out of their packages in a grocery cart accident and have to find their way back to each other and to their food friends so they can enjoy the paradise that is the Great Beyond.  Along the way they meet up with a broken douche who blames them for getting him thrown in the garbage, and a host of other foods that play up just about every stereotype you can imagine.  They end up travelling with a Jewish bagel (Edward Norton) and a Muslim lavash who are constantly arguing about having to share an aisle, meet a lesbian taco (Selma Hayek) and a Native American liquor bottle named Firewater, legions of sauerkraut looking to exterminate the juice (say that one out loud….).  Along the way they learn that the myth of the Great Beyond was just made up by one of the foods (who found out what really happens when they’re bought) so that the food would be happy and have something to believe in.  Of course there is a food fight in the movie, and lots of swearing, bad jokes and sexual innuendos, plus a giant food orgy at the end….

So, what went wrong with Sausage Party, when it could have been really clever and funny?  Well, in my opinion, it tried to be too over the top, and it tried to do that on purpose.  There was a great cast of actors involved, but there was also Seth Rogen involved.  Now, hear me out, I’m not just out to bash Seth Rogen.  Rogen was one of the lead writers (along with Jonah Hill), and he was present when the cast recorded their lines.  Usually when a cartoon is filmed, the voice actors are on their own and don’t have the other cast members around.  In this case, the writer, who was also a cast member, was there for everyone’s lines, and he encouraged everyone to improv.  As they showed in the bonus features Seth Rogen was laughing hysterically when people were recording their lines, and he (as well as the friends he brought over) was egging them on.  I think that environment caused the actors to push the envelope even more and curse away, trying to get their “audience” of peers and writers to laugh, and I think that really sunk the story.  This is basically the same problem I had with Ghostbusters, they couldn’t stick to a script. It seemed like Sausage Party was playing to the cast and the writers, and not playing to the audience.  If they could have, it might have been better, but this was very low brow humour to begin with.  As I said earlier, it could have been brilliant, instead it was a letdown.  I laughed at some of the food puns, I laughed when we got to see the scenes from the trailer where the terrified food is prepared for dinner, but really that was about it.  Very vulgar, very rude, definitely not for everyone.  Sensitive viewers will be offended easily as they don’t really pull any punches and look for ways that could offend.

Bottom Line: It was too adult for children, yet too childish for adults.

Trainwreck – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Product Details3.5 Stars

Alright, let’s just get the 2015 films done and behind me eh?  Another one I watched last year, but ran into a wall called life before I could review it, let’s see if I can tackle (and remember) Trainwreck.  It was quite funny, and had an interesting premise.  Amy Schumer stars as Amy, a girl who can’t commit or settle down with one man in her life.  Drinking heavily and going from one night stand to one night stand, and bouncing back to a boyfriend who thinks that they’re in a serious relationship (John Cena), Amy’s life really is a trainwreck… That is until she meets Aaron (Bill Hader) a doctor of sports medicine she is sent to write a story about for the men’s magazine she works at.  As the two seem to get serious and Amy gets her life on track, her old worries and fears of commitment resurface.  Will Amy slip back into her old ways?

Yes and no.  The movie was pretty funny at times but also pretty cookie cutter predictable.  It had a pretty good cast, as Hader and Schumer worked well together, and we even got to see Brie Larson as Amy’s sister before she won her Oscar for Best Actress in Room (yeah, yeah, I know, I’ve got to do a review for that too….).  But while Hader and Schumer were the stars, and did get most of the screen time, they weren’t the best thing about this film.  In my opinion, John Cena — a professional wrestler — and LeBron James — a basketball champion — stole every scene they were in.  Whenever there was a scene with either of them, I was in stitches.  Incredible comedic timing and delivery from two non comedians and two non actors, and unfortunately I think that speaks volumes about a movie that is lead by two comedians turned actors.  Trainwreck, which was directed by Judd Apatow and written by Amy Schumer, didn’t seem to know when to stop.  The movie itself was 2 hours and 5 mins according to IMDb, but I believe that the unrated Blu Ray cut was even longer!  To top it off, there were I believe more than 2 hours of bonus features on the disc!  Comedies should never be that long.

Good for some laughs, but it won’t be for everybody, as Schumer has made a name for herself with her “edgy” or crude humour.  I’m hesitant to say that this one may be just for Amy Schumer fans, but that may ultimately be the case.

Bottom Line: The last ten minutes of the film with the cheerleaders were absolutely pointless, and you shouldn’t need to have a “time filler” scene when you’re already pushing the two hour mark.

The Skeleton Twins – ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Skeleton Twins2.5 Stars

Well, that certainly wasn’t what I expected it to be, or what I wanted it to be.  I was sold on a quirky dark comedy, and there wasn’t much comedy.  The duo of Wiig and Hader tried to improve their way to laughs in a dull script that was trying to be too personal and complex a story for the audience to really connect to.  There were too many stories going on at once, and the film really seemed to lack a definite direction to me.

Milo (Bill Hader) is living in LA and attempts suicide at the same time that his sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig) was about to kill herself in New York.  Being called by the hospital, she heads to LA to be with her twin brother who she hasn’t talked to in ten years.  Bringing him back to her house in New York she tries to give him the support he needs.  As the story goes on, we learn Milo is gay, and he had a relationship with a teacher while he was in high school.  Maggie and her husband Lance (Luke Wilson) are trying to have children, but she hasn’t told him she’s scared and on birth control, or that she’s slept with her cooking instructor, dance instructor and most recently her scuba instructor.  The twins absentee mother (Joanna Gleason) drops by for a scene or two, and we’re treated to an improv scene or two of the twins at Maggie’s work, where she’s a dental hygienist and the pair get goofy on nitrous.  A lip-synched musical number later and we have learned how these two lives have fallen apart over the years.

I didn’t enjoy the film, but that’s not to say it was a bad movie.  The story really fell flat for me, but there were positives.  Both Hader and Wiig delivered strong performances, and the chemistry they had from Saturday Night Live was still evident.  Luke Wilson was probably the best thing about the film though, and was the only character that I really cared about and who truly made me laugh, but sadly he wasn’t featured that much.  If you’re a fan of either lead actor, I’d say you should watch it, but beyond that, The Skeleton Twins is not “must see” viewing, and if you’re looking for a good dark comedy you should probably look elsewhere.

Bottom Line:  The story felt really “film school”-ish and indie and it just didn’t work.  Why was Maggie trying to kill herself at the beginning of the film?  We can figure out why she tried to at the end of the film, but the opening attempt wasn’t really even acknowledged again.

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