Power Rangers TV Spots

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Dean Israelite’s Power Rangers.)

When we revisited the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers last week, I thought we would be engaging in an act of pop culture masochism. Instead, I was weirdly won over by the whole endeavor. For all of its crass cheapness and cobbled-together storylines, the original Power Rangers series still displays an undeniable, sugar-sweet charm. It’s a hard thing to hate.

So perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that director Dean Israelite‘s big screen adaptation of the long-running series is surprisingly good and surprisingly thoughtful and surprisingly weird. Surprise is the key word here, clearly. It’s not just surprising that a $100 million Power Rangers movie is watchable, it’s surprising that it has so much oddball personality. It’s a movie about inclusivity and giant robots punching monsters. It’s a movie about outcast teens coming together and a scenery devouring villain who serial kills people for their fillings. It’s the start of a big-budget movie franchise that also has a vital subplot about teen sexting.

Power Rangers is too weird to ignore and too nice to disregard. Let’s talk about it. Spoilers ahead.

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power rangers review

There’s a scene in the new Power Rangers movie in which Jason, the Red Ranger (Dacre Montgomery), tells one of his fellow Rangers that what matters isn’t the past, but what one works to make the future. It’s a perfectly admirable, earnest sort of sentiment — it’s just one that feels a little off, too, given that the past he’s referring to involves semi-revenge porn. The same goes for the movie as a whole: it comes close to being great but stumbles before getting to the finish line. That said, the beats it does manage to hit are truly wonderful.

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life review

Once upon a time, Life would have been made for a sack of pennies on a set made out of cardboard and released as the bottom half of a double bill alongside whatever Roger Corman was making that year. Take away the modern window dressing and you’re left with one the great B-movie templates: there is a spaceship and there is a monster on the spaceship and everything does not go well on that spaceship.

Life takes that template and pretties it up. There are movie stars and expensive special effects and a thick layer of Hollywood gloss, but the finished film cannot hide its origins: this is schlock in an Armani suit, junkfood beneath filet mignon. And that’s perfectly fine.

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iron fist spoiler review soundtrack

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Marvel’s new Netflix series, Iron Fist.)

For the most part, Marvel’s latest Netflix foray, Iron Fist, has been critically panned. The issues are plenty, and the resulting conversation has only served to underline exactly how the series falls short. There’s the story, the characterizations, the casting, the editing, and – this is a criticism that’s been leveled against all of Marvel’s Netflix series — it’s just too long. DaredevilJessica JonesLuke Cage could all have done with a little trimming.

In the case of Iron Fist, an altered cut could result in a drastically different and better show. It just requires a little bit of Garfield Minus GarfieldThere’s an interesting show lurking somewhere within Iron Fist…as long as you remove Iron Fist himself.

Spoilers lie ahead, of course.

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beauty and the beast compared to the original

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast.)

Once Walt Disney Pictures began adapting its animated classics for live-action, starting with Tim Burton’s 2010 take on Alice in Wonderland and moving into villain-centered fairy tales like Maleficent, it was a safe bet that a new version of Beauty and the Beast wouldn’t be too far behind. The 1991 film is beloved the world over and was a central part of pop culture for countless Millennials growing up. Plus, it garnered heaps of critical praise and a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, the first for an animated film. So it’s no surprise that Disney has gone all-in with its live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast: it boasts an all-star cast including Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, and more; its director, Bill Condon, has directed everything from entries in the Twilight Saga to the Dreamgirls musical adaptation; and its reported $160 million budget is evident in the sets, costumes, and extensive CGI.

But can the new Beauty and the Beast compare to the 1991 classic? Does this remake feel as timeless as the film that inspired its existence? Or do its changes — and there are quite a few — feel dull and lifeless? Let’s dive in and compare the original and its remake to find out.

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small crimes review

You know the drill. A man gets out of prison and returns home. His old life is gone, but the wreckage remains. His friends are scattered. His enemies are powerful. There is no hope for escape. But maybe, just maybe, one last job, one last crime, one last ass-covering, will be all he needs to pull himself up and put his act back together. And then it all goes horribly wrong, of course.

Small Crimes, like so many neo-noirs, is all about a small pile of poor decisions rapidly growing into a large pile of poor decisions, until the whole thing topples over into chaos. But this one is especially nasty, particularly bloodthirsty, and completely unwilling to pull its punches. This movie has a mean streak…and it grins as it draws blood.

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Beauty and the Beast review

Whenever there’s news of a remake or reboot of an old and beloved movie, the reactions usually range from cautious optimism to some variation on “only when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” In the case of Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast, it’s the movie itself to which those latter adjectives apply.

This isn’t to say that the movie’s got nothing going on; if anything, it has too much going on. Padded out with 45 extra minutes, the movie’s M.O. is to take everything in the original and crank it up from ten to twenty. There’s more magic, more backstory, more cutlery, more dance breaks, more everything. It feels like love up to a point, the way the best stories get embellished with time, but when the new songs come clunking to remind you of exactly what it takes to get a Best Original Song nomination (and how good the old songs are), the proceedings start to feel a little less genuine.

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win it all review

Win It All is a nice movie.

That may seem like faint praise, but it’s hard to think of a more accurate or complimentary way to describe the latest collaboration between co-writer/director Joe Swanberg and co-writer/actor Jake Johnson. It is a pleasant, agreeable movie about people you like, where every single scene (and the movie itself) refuses to overstay its welcome. It is funny. It is moving. It is sweet. It is easy to watch. It is nice.

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atomic blonde review

In a nutshell: Atomic Blonde is about a badass, bisexual British secret agent who fights like John Wick and seduces like James Bond who travels to Germany days before the fall of the Berlin Wall to recover some stolen intelligence. She wears a number of amazing outfits, kills a whole bunch of bad guys, and just looks terrific as she struts through noisy nightclubs and desolate alleyways to a soundtrack of ’80s synth pop. It is excellent, two-fisted entertainment and further proof that Charlize Theron is one of our great modern action heroes.

In a smaller nutshell: Atomic Blonde is one of the most purely entertaining action movies coming out this year.

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the disaster artist review

The most surprising thing about The Disaster Artist, James Franco‘s adaptation of Greg Sestero’s book of the same name, is that it doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in its body. Here’s a film about the making of The Room, one of the worst and most baffling movies to ever achieve cult infamy, told with sincerity, sweetness, and pure affection. Franco isn’t here to laugh at The Room – he’s here to laugh with it. The Disaster Artist has no scorn for its subject. Instead, it is fascinated by this impossible-t0-believe tale and the impossible-to-believe movie it produced. No irony. No scorn. Only love.

And that makes a movie whose existence already feels impossible feel all the more unlikely and all the more wonderful.

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