Thursday, April 27, 2017

Disney's 2019 releases


In the year 2019, Disney will own you.

Prepare your wallet now, because they are going to be making it rain with your money.

I guess that's not that big of a shock. I mean Disney always seems to be making it rain with all of our money. Especially since they have inquired on Marvel, LucasFilm and Pixar. I wouldn't be surprised if sometime very soon, Disney buys everything and we become the United States of Walt Disney. I think as far as 2019 is concerned, the releases are so cool and so high-profile that they are sparking some huge conversation.

"Star Wars: Episode Nine" will be released in 2019, aiming for a May 26th release. Too bad, I have grown rather fond of Star Wars at Christmas time, but I will learn to live with it. I don't care that they are changing the season. With the pact schedule Disney is proposing in 2019, its got to be hard to not compete with yourself. "Frozen 2" will be released in November 2019, and the box office returns for that will be enormous. I know. I work at a daycare center. The original "Frozen" was four years ago, and still, you'd think the movie was released last week. Just merely going off of how young girls still sing the songs and are manically obsessed with Elsa, Anna and Olaf. 

We also know now that a new Indiana Jones movie was pushed back to 2020 to make room for Jon Favreau's "The Lion King." Yep, after "Cinderella," "The Jungle Book" and "Beauty and the Beast," we will be getting the live-action "Lion King" treatment next. Favreau directed "The Jungle Book" and I love that movie unreservedly. So I am betting Favreau does more incredible work here. The new Indiana Jones should be interesting, since Harrison Ford will be in his 80's by then. 

So three big releases for Disney in 2019. That's not even mentioning that we will be getting "Avengers 4" that year, May 3rd to be exact. "Toy Story 4" is coming in June and "Captain Marvel" will be in March. So yeah, start saving up right now, Disney will be taking your dollars left and right.

SOURCE:
http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/2019

Review: "Going In Style" rides on the performances of its actors

Going In Style Review
"Going In Style" is a remake. It stars Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine. I think looking at those three names alone, well your interest may already be pretty high. These guys aren't just actors, they will go down as legends of their era. Easily some of the finest performers of their generation. Perfectly able to do anything they wanted to with a fair amount of ease. These guys could read a telephone book in Swahili and it wouldn't be boring. No matter how bad a movie is that these three guys appear in, you can pretty much guarantee that their work in said movie won't be bad.

That is kind of the gift and curse of "Going in Style." The work done by Freeman, Arkin and Caine is strong, but it almost feels like the movie leans on it like a crutch. There isn't much left to offer than watching these three royal men have some much needed fun late in their careers. Don't get me wrong, "Going In Style" is immense fun, its certainly not a boring time at the theater. There just really isn't much to it other than watching some actors having a good time on screen.

I think there are some themes the filmmakers are trying to push. Caine's character is trying to provide a good life for his growing granddaughter, but he is close to losing his house and is feeling the pressure from his bank. Freeman's character has some severe health issues, and if he doesn't get an organ transplant fast, his days are sourly numbered. And Arkin's character, well he's just kind of lonely, and needs some much needed stress relief. Its Caine's character that feels like they should rob a bank. All three guys need fast cash, and they think that since the bank has been ripping people off for years and they should be tired of it. There are themes of facing death, of feeling young again in your old age, and of finding and loving what is really important. But let's be honest, these themes aren't investigated or illuminated in any enriching way. This movie really just boils down to how many times Freeman, Arkin, Caine and their silly antics can makes us laugh.

The thing is, by and large, these guys pull it off. We know just how much charisma just one of these guys carries in a movie, so imagine between the three of them. "Going In Style" is a charisma machine. This is very light, very slight entertainment. But I suppose it gets the job done.

FINAL GRADE: C+

Review: I call shotgun for "F8" and you should too!

The Fate of the Furious Review

It's easy to enjoy most action blockbusters as a fun time at the movies, but nothing much else. We can find some enjoyment through the witty one-liners, the eye-popping action, and movie stars striking cool poses. But these blockbuster franchises are never incredibly important to cinema, not to me. Action blockbusters are like eating your favorite candy, its a sweet sugar rush and usually nothing more. Sometimes  they fall so far into the world of cheese that its hard to watch them. I thought that the "Fast and Furious" movies were headed that way, but there was a change mid-franchise. Now, these are movies I anticipate every few years. Yes, these movies are incredibly silly, but they are so confidentially made that its hard to not sit back and enjoy the ride.

After eight movies, I think any franchise would be an endurance test to sit through for any fan, hardcore or casual. There is always a worry of doing the same things, over and over again. There is a potential problem with circular plots, will these movies tread water? What's blown me away over the years is how the "Fast and Furious" movies manage to keep things somewhat fresh. I don't think I could honestly count too many parallels between "The Fate of the Furious" to "Fast Seven" or "Fast and Furious 6" or the any of the other films. This franchise is constantly changing, constantly subbing characters out, constantly hurling new challenges at these people, and its a miracle that it feels like a different experience. Even though there are some trademarks we are beginning to see develop in this franchise.

"The Fate of the Furious" begins in Havana, Cuba. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon. Of course, Dom knows somebody there. Of course, that somebody is in trouble and Dom must race for their honor. Of course, Dom being Dom, he creams the competition and his respect in the street racing world increases. The next morning, Dom runs into a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron). Dom doesn't know her, but she knows quite a bit about him. She wants him to work with her and she shows him "something" on a phone. Whatever Dom sees, it works and he is coerced into working with her. On Dom's next job, he frames Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), and betrays the rest of his crew (including the returns of both Tyrese Gibson as Roman and Ludacris as Tej). None of them can believe it as Dom delivers a WMD to Cipher (Theron) a ghost of a criminal who is incredibly dangerous. Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell), gets Hobbs out of prison and reunites him with Letty, Roman and Tej. He wants to recruit them to go after Cipher, and they will get to her through Dom. Mr. Nobody also throws one more person in the mix, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the villain from last movie, who has a beef with Cipher himself. Its a shaky alliance, but they all need to know the truth about Dom.

What ensues is another big, broad action movie. But its amazing to me that a franchise that has mainly revolved around fast cars and still feel so relevant. We aren't seeing the same few stunts over and over again. The film makers behind this franchise are always at odds with themselves, always continuing to push the envelope. There is an action set piece involving a submarine that will possibly be a favorite among action set pieces by the end of the year. The confidence within the context of the action scenes is key, and its wildly entertaining throughout.

At this point in this long franchise, its hard to judge Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson and the others on their acting. They have wholly become these people at this point and these characters will be cemented in their identities for many years to come. As new challenges await these classic characters, the actors are able to role with the punches, always making everything feel human and natural. I can tell you that Kurt Russell continues to be a witty force in this franchise. I can tell you that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham have several stand-out scenes here, and they are doing some of the best work in their careers so far. I can tell you that the inclusions of Charlize Theron, Scott Eastwood, Kristofer "Tormund" Hivju and Helen Frigging Mirren is more than welcome. There are several cameos from characters from other parts of the franchise that should put smiles on the faces of loyal fans of this franchise. There are bug character moments here that will make fans of this franchise cheer.

We know there is an end game in mind now. We know that nothing lasts forever and there will be a moment when Dom and Letty drive off into the sunset and we never see them again. We know we have a ninth and tenth movie left and then we are done, we will see these characters again. Its been a wild ride so far, and if those last two films are as confident, as big and as fun as this latest installment, we have every reason to be excited.

FINAL GRADE: A

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

TV REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (SEASON FOUR, EPISODE NINETEEN)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

SEASON FOUR, EPISODE NINETEEN- "ALL THE MADAME'S MEN"

Well, there's an old face.

The man you are looking at above is Sunsil Bakhsh (spelling??), a henchmen in Daniel Whitehall's HYDRA in the real world. He died long ago, and now of course he turns up into The Framework. He's a news anchor man, kinda like Bill O'Reilly or Bill Maher if those men were completely evil. He doesn't play a huge role in this episode, but it was interesting to see him. Its been interesting to see a glimpse into this world that could have been.

With that said, it was pretty cool to watch Melinda May take her spot back with the heroes and it was equally entertaining to watch Daisy flex those Inhuman quake muscles once again. She blew Aida's personality in The Framework out of the window. In a shootout that just may remind you a bit of "Die Hard," it may also remind you a bit of "The Matrix." Or perhaps even a little bit of both. No matter what it reminds or doesn't remind you of, it was pretty cool. It was also quite satisfying watching that evil Aida fall out of a building.

Sadly, that bit of satisfaction was short-lived.  It turns out that the big plan of Madame Hydra is there is a machine being built in the real world that will allow Aida to travel from the real world to the Framework. It doesn't matter if she has a physical form or not, she will be pretty much everywhere. Our heroes will be trapped in The Framework, unable to get out and it won't matter where Aida is and why. That's quite a scary thought, especially since that Fitz is totally lost in The Framework, not a chance in becoming himself ever again. This sad realization just seems like incredibly sinister. This is quite possibly the most evil plan a bad guy has pulled off in this show, and its crazy because it just might work. I love it.

I should have never had second thoughts on this third part of this season, because its working wonders.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Netflix's next big original involves Scorsese


Like it or not, Netflix has revolutionized entertainment forever. They have given a host of artists a new outlet to tell their stories upon and I will be interested to see how Netflix, Amazon, HULU and the other streaming services continue to change the entertainment scene. You can take your pick of your favorite Netflix original show, because there are already tons of them. I follow "House of Cards," "BoJack Horsemen," "Stranger Things," "Trailer Park Boys," "Hemlock Grove," "F is for Family," "Master of None," any and all of their Marvel shows. Even with all of those options that I continue to watch and love each year, I feel like when I surf through Netflix originals, I am constantly behind on potentially great shows. There are movies have been good so far too, and their documentaries. I am very much looking forward to Will Smith's "Bright" later this year.

Some big news dropped today however. Netflix dropped $105 million on an upcoming Martin Scorsese movie deal. Martin Scorsese is returning to crime drama, and he's bringing the big guns. Which big guns to you ask? Only Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Friggin Pesci. Those big guns. All four of those guys returning to crime drama under the watchful eye of Martin Scorsese? The idea along nearly gave me a heart attack of glee.

The film is titled "The Irishman" its about a real Irish hitman for the mob named Frank Sheeran, who worked primarily for well-known mob leader Jimmy Hoffa. Apparently, Sheeran will be played by De Niro and Hoffa will be played by Pacino. No word yet on who Keitel and Pesci will be playing.

The release it aiming for 2019. But that's way too late. I need this movie in my life now. I can't believe something this high-profile is hitting Netflix and it just goes to show how they are really changing the game. I am wildly curious to see these next few years play out for them and how they continue to change the game. As for right now, keep an eye out for "The Irishman."

SOURCE:

https://truththeory.com/2017/04/19/netflix-just-paid-105-million-unite-worlds-greatest-actors-will-anticipated-film-century/#

Review: "The Void" is boring, unscary tripe

The Void Review
I figured since 2017 has been such a strong year for horror, that the trend would keep going. So little did I know.

"The Void" has all the ingredients for a good horror movie. There is a creepy cult, there are survivors stuck in one place bearing together for a siege, there are crazy looking monsters. All of this could have equated to a worthwhile and even horrifying experience. The film had quite the opening. As two people run out of a house, one man, one woman. The woman gets shot, and the man takes off running. Two men with guns walk out of the house, and while the woman is still alive, they drench her in gasoline and set her on fire, alive. Its a chilling, matter-of-fact beginning and I was already on board.

Too bad the rest of this thankfully short film didn't fire on the same cylinders as its beginning. This is a movie full of actors who can't act, full of characters with no development, its thriller with no thrills and a scary movie with no scares. The cast includes Aaron Poole, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Walsh, Art Hindel and Kathleen Munroe. I can't tell you a single thing about these actors, and after their work in this movie. Perhaps there is a reason for that. 

With super monsters and a evil cult and a hospital siege. There are many moments of this movie that feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen. I can't tell you how many writers brought this thing together, and honestly, I really don't care. Its pretty clear that they couldn't find their way around a script. Actually, that almost feels a little too hard to say. I mean, they did write a killer (pun totally intended) opening sequence to this movie. Sadly, the rest of the movie never quite hits that level of intensity. The rest of the movie is totally and completely devoid of scares or even a single memorable performance.

FINAL GRADE: D

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Review: Is Adam Sandler's "Sandy Wexler" the light at the end of the tunnel?

Sandy Wexler Review

For better or for worse, Adam Sandler has created a legacy with will be everlasting.

It's tough to look back at Sandler's glory days and wince at what he's become. I guess its nice that he's still working, still trying to create some sort of redemption for himself. Its not like he just disappeared up his own ass like somebody else I could name. (I'm looking at you, Eddie Murphy) If I was his manager, I would have asked him to be solely a voice actor, because he would have been one of the all-time greats. But Sandler continues to make live-action movies, to very little avail. His four movie Netflix deal seemed like a lucrative and ambitious opportunity, to do things perhaps the Hollywood execs would not want him to do. Sadly, so far, its just given him permission to do what he always does. Just make stupid movies that are more about him goofing off with all of his best friends instead of making genuine comedy. Netflix recently added four more movies to Sandler's contract, to the applause of nobody.

I thought "The Ridiculous Six" had the opportunity to be a special spoof movie, and while I think some of it works, I don't think it adds up to a satisfying whole. "The Do Over" was typical Sandler though. Weak, forgettable and inept. Now comes "Sandy Wexler." On paper, "Sandy Wexler" looks to be another typical Sandler film. Yet another opportunity for Sandler to create an annoying voice and tack it on an annoying character, while his best buddies act all around him. For the most part, that is what "Sandy Wexler" is, and for the other part, its something a tad more. It's been a while since I felt I could wholeheartedly recommend an Adam Sandler movie, I can barely believe I am typing this, but everyone should check out "Sandy Wexler."

Adam Sandler plays the title character, a talent agent in Los Angeles who was big in the 1990's. Wexler's business style put loyalty and friendship above the business aspects of talent management, which has brought him not a whole lot of money, but he still has passion for his work. One day, he hears a woman named Courtney Clarke singing (Jennifer Hudson) and he immediately wants to make her a star. As they work together,they begin to fall in love. It's got a Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose" mixed with "La La Land" vibe to it.

That's just part of the story though, the rest of the movie is Sandy meeting with his various other talent as he mentors and coaches them. Kevin James, Terry Crews, Nick Swardson all show up during these segments. There are some fun moments, but the movie is nearly two-and-a-half hours. That's incredibly long for an Adam Sandler movie. Sadly, with meeting with his talent and the Courtney love story, not much happens in this movie and I think it would have benefited from some more editing.

But "Sandy Wexler" does work. What works about it? Well, Sandler is able to create a voice that doesn't make you want to commit suicide after a half-hour, which is pretty impressive given the film's run-time. The romance between Hudson and Sandler works FOR the movie, not against it. Hudson and Sandler actually create an emotional, resonating romance and they both do solid work in this film. I was shocked to say that some moments in this film actually made me laugh. I can't remember when I honestly laughed hard at a Sandler movie. Other parts simply made me smile, its not an obnoxiously funny movie like Sandler used to be, but its a good start for being comatose for so long.

I sat watching this, waiting for something to make me mad, waiting for something to make my eyes roll, something to make me hate this movie. I was ready to shred this movie today. I was ready to piss and groan at four more Netflix movies. But I am not. If Sandler's next five movies are more like this and less like "The Do Over," he just might earn some merit back from his fans. Hey, M Night Shyamalan did it. So can Sandler.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cloak and Dagger" trailer

The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.

Whether its in movies or TV, just about every hero in the Marvel Universe is under one banner and even though they haven't mingled with each other yet, we know that they all occupy the same world. I have enjoyed ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." I kinda liked "Agent Carter," but I can see why it got axed after two seasons. I have been a huge fan of all Netflix Marvel, except for "Iron Fist" which I may get around to writing about soon. (Haven't a clue when, still need to finish that.). Overall, the TV side of this universe has been nearly on par with the movie side.

Adding to the ever expanding world is Cloak and Dagger, two heroes who got their powers from experimental street drugs. Marvel maybe scrapping at the bottom of the barrel for characters now, but Cloak and Dagger are very cool characters, and if they are treated with the same passion as the other characters, this will be a worthwhile presentation.

I do get a little scared about the idea of this being on Freeform, AKA ABC Family. Not really the outlet you'd expect from an MCU show. I hope this doesn't end up being to Tweenie for me. That will be a massive miscalculation and misstep for this continuing franchise. Fingers crossed that this doesn't happen. Based on the trailer, it could go both ways.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II Mix Tape

I loved "Guardians of the Galaxy"

I can't wait for the second film to come out in a few weeks, especially since I have read that it's really, really, really, really good apparently. I also wonder about its supposed 5 post-credit sequences at the end of the film.

One of the biggest appeals of the first film was Star-Lord's mix tape. He got picked up in the late 1980's and he's been living in outer space ever since. He doesn't have the same ear for music that the rest of us do. He has a knack for the classics. Much like Eli from "The Book of Eli," he treats his mix tape with care, its the last memento of his deceased mother, and he holds this mix tape dear. Just as will hold this second mix tape dear in this second film. I can only anticipate. I bought the "mix tape" the summer of 2014 after I had seen the movie, and I have listened to Star-Lord's mix tape several times over the years, I love it!

I belong to a Marvel Cinematic Universe Facebook group, having discussions that go this way and that about the MCU. One of my favorite conversations that I was apart of a couple years ago was trying to guess which songs would end up being on the second tape given to him by his mother. Now, we know what to expect to hear in the movie which hits theaters in the next couple of weeks.

Star-Lord's second mix tape!


This sequel already officially rules due to the inclusion of Cat Stevens.

Other than that, its a healthy mix of classic songs I like with stuff I can't wait to discover!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

TV REVIEW: "AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D." (SEASON FOUR, EPISODE EIGHTEEN)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

SEASON FOUR, EPISODE EIGHTEEN- "NO REGRETS"

Its been interesting watching this last half of season four, simply because it feels like the show is coming together in a way I thought we'd never see. There seem to be no wasted opportunities as of late (except for the whole Madame Hydra thing I am still not a fan of), the characters seem to flow well, there is humor, there is action, and there are actual stakes, stakes that cause real empathy. Something I haven't felt from this show in awhile. Plus, there is an inspirational zing of unpredictability ever since our heroes got stuck in Aida's Framework. Let's be honest here, it is Aida's Framework, not Radcliffe's. He's completely out of control, which was widely evident this episode.

This episode was pretty exciting to say the least. I mean, B.J. Britt showed up in the Framework as Agent Triplett! Yes, the Trip returned. In the main storyline of the episode, Coulson and even Jemma assist Mace and Ward rescue an undercover agent from Hydra, as the undercover has recovered information and evidence of a weapon Hydra has obtained. That undercover agent is none other than Triplett. While I loved seeing B.J. Britt show up again on the show, it definitely felt bittersweet. I mean, unless something unexpected happens, we know we won't see Triplett again after our heroes get out of the Framework, we know heroic Ward won't either. There is a melancholy glow to this entire story arc and it has lead to some complex character creations, which have been some of the best of the season.

It also stinks because Mace won't see the real world ever again either. Yep, its true. The rescue mission that got Trip out of the clutches of HYDRA also led to an entirely different rescue mission. We learn what happened to Coulson's classroom of children when HYDRA operatives come and take them away. The children are brainwashed, in a sinister way you will recognize if you've been a fan of the show since the beginning. It's some brutally stark imagery, even for a show on ABC, and I give the showrunners credit for never steering away, never playing it safe. In order to kill Mace, Fitz has the entire building destroyed. Which leads to Coulson, Ward, Mace, Trip and Jemma trying to save a child. May shows up trying to finish her mission, but when she witnesses S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to save the life of a child, it opens something up in May. It looks like by next week, May will be herself again too. Which is a good thing. I like that it wasn't some sudden switch in the character, it wasn't for some convenience of plot. Everything this story arc has been hardly earned, and I absolutely love that. Mace sacrificed himself to save the child, and it looked like he died in real life too. I know its not confirmed yet, but it did look clear. That's sad, an emotion well earned.

The enhanced May vs Patriot Mace fight was pretty cool though.

Plus, David O'Hara showed up as a guest star this week, playing Fitz' Dad. A man who is special to HYDRA as well. You know David O'Hara whether you know his name or not. He was in "The Departed" as Fitzy. He was the crazy Irishman in Mel Gibson's "Braveheart." He was in "Wanted" and "Doomsday" and FOX's "Gotham" for a few episodes. He's ultra-freaky in whatever he is in and he was fitting as a HYDRA loyal father to Fitz in the Framework. I think he's an underrated supporting actor, and I am glad we'll get more of him next week. Somehow he may be the key to getting Fitz to be himself again, and maybe not Madame HYDRA. Keep an eye on them, seriously.

The development and care in this story arc has been unxpected, but it has led to some of the very best episodes of the show so far. 

Well freaking done.

What did everyone else think?

Review: "Win It All" is a poor man's "The Gambler"

Win It All Review

Does anybody remember "The Gambler?" It came out back in 2014? It starred Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson and John Goodman? I liked the film quite a bit, and I reviewed it for the site. I don't remember it being one of the big movies people talked about at the end of the year, but it was a film that certainly worked for me and one I plan on owning some day down the road.

I bring up "The Gambler" because while watching "Win It All" last night on Netflix, I couldn't whether I was watching "The Gambler" or if I was actually watching "Win It All." I spent most of the film's running time trying to figure out which film it was I watching, and that can create an identity crisis for the film. Sure, we are living in the age of homage. Yes, there are several movies made year after year that look the same, sound the same, act the same, but looking at "Win It All" it feels like a remake. In a world where we are getting too many remakes way too soon, it feels like a serious problem.

Jake Johnson plays Eddie Garrett, a small-time gambler who bets big only to lose huge. He plays the role of high roller as well as he can, but he's not bringing in lots of dough and that has the potential to blow up in face. In fact, it does. Garrett is asked by a low-level thug to look after some money while he's away in prison. At first, Garrett decides to just leave it be, but the guy will be gone a long time. Why not use that money to gamble and make some money on the side? Besides, even if he loses, he can just keep playing until he breaks even again. Nobody will ever know. Except he loses too much money too fast, and then's stuck. He needs cash fast, what will a guy who is known for losing do?

Again, I am picturing "The Gambler." Sure there are some minor changes, but essentially both movies boil down to a up-and-down gambler needing quick cash to settle some kind of debt. Would you be surprised if the gambler in question has family issues? Would you be surprised if Jake Johnson's character meets a girl who forces him to ponder his existence and get out of the wheeling-and-dealing life for good? I get that maybe not lots of people saw "The Gambler," so maybe this works for you on a level where it does not for me. That's okay. I am just trying to explain why what could have been a fun experience ended up being dull for me.

How does it work as a movie? Well, I will say for what its worth, the movie is well acted. Jake Johnson is an exciting supporting actor that is starting to feel the string of leading performances that have been good. He's got some tact as a performer and its starting to pay off. I can also say that the supporting work done by Keegan-Michael Key, Joe Lo Truglio and Aislinn Derbez is all quite strong. They definitely do the job they were hired to do and they are great. There is nothing wrong with the film performance wise. Its even quite funny and iconic at times, it just came off to me as "been there, done that." As far as Netflix Originals go, it maybe worth checking out.

FINAL GRADE: C+

Monday, April 17, 2017

March Madness: The Winner is...

Okay, I think I dragged this on long enough...

You heard the excuses, next year, I WILL NOT drag this out as long as I did. March Madness on my site here this year felt like April Madness. Yes, I got super busy with getting my first house and making preparations for my wedding in two weeks. For that, I apologize. Thank you for keeping up with your loyal votes. Thank you for keeping up with this, and making this third March Madness Heroes vs. Villains vote one to remember.

We started back in March with 64 heroes and villains, hailing from the worlds of movies and television. We had superheroes and supervillains, animated heroes, animated villains, monsters, aliens, psychopaths, super-spys, and good people just doing good things and bad people doing bad things. That quickly dwindled down to half, and before we knew it, there were 32 heroes and villains left standing. Then that number dwindled, and the number after that dwindled, so on and so forth. Then we had one hero and one villain left standing. On one side, was the Dark Knight, the caped crusader, Batman making his third appearance as hero finalist in this competition. On the other side, a villain from the realm of television, someone who hasn't been in this competition yet, but made a big splash as far as votes earned. This is Dr. Hannibal Lecter from NBC's "Hannibal." The results are in, the voting is over. Here's who won.


For the third year in a row, Batman reigns supreme in the Heroes vs. Villains March Madness vote. Batman seems unbeatable. He easily defeated the doctor by over 70% of the vote. The cannibal was no match for the Worlds Greatest Detective.

Thanks again for voting, we will return next year!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer!

What was your favorite part of the weekend? Mine was definitely seeing the first glorious trailer for the eighth episode in the "Star Wars" franchise, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi!"

I probably watched the trailer about a thousand times. I also love the retro style poster you see above. If I had to guess, telling from both the trailer and the poster, these three new entries in the "Star Wars" saga are going to be a Uncles (Luke Skywalker) vs. Nephew (Kylo Ren) story. Again, that is just a guess. Perhaps it will be more about our new characters and their journey. Whatever the case may be, I am super excited.

It looks like we will learn more about what happened to Ben Solo before he became Kylo Ren, what led him to influenced by the Dark Side of the Force, we get some close shots of Rey, Finn and Poe seemingly in peril. We know Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro are in this, but we have no idea who they are. We don't see them in the trailer. And of course, what's a "Star Wars" trailer with no flying speeders, space battles and some lightsabers. The only thing that worries me, Luke Skywalker says "the Jedi must end" or something along those lines. I can't believe. Will we never see the Jedi again? I guess that's why they call it what it is.





Thursday, April 13, 2017

REVIEW: "Life" is like Alien, not as good, but not bad.

Life Review
This seems like a movie that got released then quickly vanished without a trace. Too bad too, because "Life" is actually a quiet but startling little thriller. If you like the alone-in-space type movies, where mood can have even more of a payoff because they are in space, this is for you.

Now, you are probably thinking that seems too close to "Alien." Yes, I will say that it has many elements and parallels to "Alien." We have a group of people on a spaceship. In "Life" a group of astronauts on an international space station discover the first ever lifeforms on Mars. They bring the lifeform on the ship, the lifeform turns hostile, and terrible shit goes down. Its a little different than "Alien." It also kind of becomes a slasher film is space. Hey, I never said that "Life" was original, but I will say that it is a good example of something done right. The performances are well-done and believable across the board, the special effects are efficient, the music is deeply effective, and the genuine unease that builds over the coarse of the film is enough to get your hair standing on end.

It helps when you have people like Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Olga Dihovichnaya all starring in the film. Ryan Reynolds is his usual sarcastic self, but when he is told to portray dramatic beats, it never feels like a fluke, it never feels unnatural. He is able to roll with the punches of his character with ease. Jake Gyllenhaal has done several roles like this before, and he is perfecting the art of his craft. As is Ferguson and Sanada. I am not very familiar with Dihovichnaya, but I can say that she takes charge of the leadership role in this movie, and she makes the most of it. It is a small cast, but each character makes their screen time count.

The special effects are believable enough, and never come across cheap. But the films secret weapon is how it feels like a slow burn. At an hour and a half, its not a very long movie. But it has a way of building up and building up, it takes its time even though its a short movie. When creepy and disturbing things begin to happen, it feels like a sudden jolt. It never feels like a cheap thrill. Scares seem to be cheaper and cheaper in this day and age, and I give "Life" credit for making this film feel relevant.

Yes, it has "Alien" DNA all over it. But I can honestly say that it never feels like a homage movie. It never feels tongue-in-cheek. Movies have been in the history of our world for over a hundred years now, its damn tough to come up with an original concept, well at least 100% original concept. So you may complain that this is just like "Alien," but that doesn't make it bad. It's absolutely worth seeing and I honestly can't wait to get it on Blu-Ray and have a double-feature with "Alien."

FINAL GRADE: B+

March Madness: Heroes Vs. Villains "The Final Round"

After several weeks of voting, several characters slain, and even a couple setbacks on my part, it has finally come to this. The final hero and the final villain are the only ones left standing. Its been a long road. I don't want to waste anymore time. Batman defeated Arya Stark in a close vote, generating 60% of the vote, Batman will once again, for  the third year in a row, represent the heroes in this bracket. I bet he could win for the third year in a row. On the villain side of things, Saruman was defeated by newcomer Dr. Hannibal Lecter, I think lots of people really want a season four. Its going to be a movie vs. TV showdown over the next few days, so get voting.

FINAL ROUND

BATMAN (1) VS. DR. HANNIBAL LECTER (2)

We will have a victor by Saturday, so get voting right now! You guys have been great!



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

REVIEW: "Ghost in the Shell" is a visual masterpiece but nothing much else.

Ghost In The Shell Review
Here are my thoughts on "Ghost In The Shell" a movie based on the 1995 Japanese anime movie. Its been a film riddled in controversy ever since its release. Yes, I get it, people get up in arms because they cast a big-name white actress to be the lead instead of an Asian actress. I am not going to get into this debate. It really didn't have a huge impact on the viewing of this movie for me. Plus, I am just sick of hearing about it. Every time a movie like this gets released you have plenty of ignorant ("There aren't any Asian actors who can speak clear English" a real sentence somebody wrote defending Scarlett Johansson's casting) and Social Justice Warriors spewing bile at each other across the fence. I don't need to be in that mess. I've written plenty about this subject already. I've made my opinion very clear on this matter. I feel I have spoken my peace, and I have no need to get into it again.

So how does "Ghost In The Shell" work as a movie?

Well, had it been a silent movie, it would have been a masterpiece. Had all the sound been completely cut out of the movie and the dialogue appeared in title cards and all we got was images, it would have been a masterpiece. The movie is so visually arresting that it took my breath away. There is no denying we are living in a time where special effects can do nearly anything on screen, the sky is literally the limit. This film certainly takes advantage of the power of CGI and we get a film that is very beautiful to look at. But is there anything else going on besides the pretty pictures? Anything besides a few cool action scenes? (Honestly, I shouldn't say few, there is one cool action scene in the entire movie and that's it.)

The main problem with Scarlett Johansson isn't that she's a white actress playing an Asian character, not to me. The biggest problem is that Johansson is totally wooden in the entire movie. She's a blank, she's an empty shell. I think she's wildly overrated as an actress, and I feel she gets work because she's young, she's beautiful and she doesn't mind doing action and blockbuster stuff, so she gets plenty of work. She's like a female Mark Wahlberg, because like Wahlberg, you can tell when Johansson is phoning it in and when she isn't. Trust me, she phones it in way more than we realize. I am not just going to call myself a fan because she looks good. She's incredibly overrated as an actress, and I can barely think of something that I absolutely loved her in (except the criminally underrated "Under The Skin.") Yes, that includes the Marvel movies, she's fine in them, but she's nothing special. Never has been. In fact, if it weren't for one scheduling conflict, she wouldn't have received the role. I wish that scheduling conflict never occured, because I believe Emily Blunt would have delivered a much more memorable Black Widow than what Johansson is capable of.

It's not that she's alone in this movie, though. Nobody really gives this film the life it needs to keep the audiences focused and entertained. There is no forward momentum created by the actors, there is no character development in the script. I don't buy this future. I don't buy the characters who inhabit this world. I don't buy the film's premise. The Japanese anime did a spectacular job of reeling its audience in, making them care about the characters, and creating worthwhile material. This live-action rendition does none of that. Its coasts on special effects, hoping you'll go back because Johansson looks fabulous. But we want more, we need more and we deserve more. Sadly, we don't get more.

But hey, at least its wonderful to look at though, right?

FINAL GRADE: C-

TV REVIEW: "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (SEASON FOUR, EPISODE SEVENTEEN)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

SEASON FOUR, EPISODE SEVENTEEN- "IDENTITY AND CHANGE"
Well, this was a rather emotional episode.

Coulson and Skye meet Mace in The Framework, and he may just be the Inhuman we believe he was in the real world. Jemma doesn't trust Ward. Mack has a daughter in The Framework, and is just trying his best to survive. And, well Fitz in The Framework, well he's really a bad guy.

How bad? So bad he killed Agnes in The Framework, so Radcliffe will NEVER see her ever again. That was right after Jemma convinced Ward NOT to shoot Fitz aka The Doctor in the Framework. Apparently, in The Doctor in this universe is the big bad, The Red Skull, Von Strucker. I don't think Madame Hydra, the identity Aida assumed herself in The Framework, but it could be Fitz himself. That's kind of a sad thought. Especially since Jemma is distraught after Fitz/Doctor shooting Agnes in cold blood, capturing Radcliffe and allowing for the severe beating and torture of both Radcliffe and potentially Daisy. 

We don't learn too much about Mack and his role in The Framework. We know he has a daughter that he calls Sparkplug (a little Easter Egg for those who know the comics). He is a family man. He follows HYDRA's orders just to keep her safe. His daughter brings home a piece of a HYDRA drone, which is a big no-no. They get taken into HYDRA custody for it. But kind of not. See, May is onto Skye in this world and she is able to get Mack to reveal Skye's true identity. Mack doesn't know anything about his life in the real world, but him helping HYDRA gets Skye captured. Fitz may kill her next week, and we are already planning on seeing a rescue mission of some kind next week. 

With Jemma heartbroken, Skye captured, Radcliffe in regret and Agnes now dead, its safe to say that this third storyline in this fourth season is really piling on the angst. I don't think our heroes have ever been put through this much of a wringer on this show so far. With Radcliffe not in control, we don't know if our heroes will ever get out of the this Framework, and that's really sad. This season has been full of missed opportunities and weird decisions, but I'd be lying if I said that this third storyline wasn't delivering the goods. This represents what happens when this show is at its very best, here's to hoping it can stay this way into season five.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, April 10, 2017

REVIEW: "Boss Baby" is another boring Dreamworks Animation chapter.

Boss Baby Review

Am I a bad person for saying that "Boss Baby" may be fun for young children but boring for adults?

I know its a comment I have made in the past, usually in describing Dreamworks Animation films, and I feel bad for doing it sometimes. Am I being too hard on these family films? Or are we just being spoiled by Pixar. Heck, I am barely  blown away by Pixar these days, but their quality is still very strong. I don't feel like Dreamworks has had a memorable work since "Shrek 2." I can't honestly say the third and fourth films in that franchise are up to par with the first and second. It seems Dreamworks has always been a red-headed stepchild in the shadow of Disney and Pixar. The difference I see is this: Dreamworks makes movies specifically for kids, while Disney and Pixar both tap into something for everyone. The animation doesn't matter, its just a form of art, a form of communication. Just because something is animated, doesn't mean it has to be centered towards one small demographic in the theater. Are kids movies really only supposed to be for kids, and the adults just get to sit in a comfy chair and kill time after a long week at the office? Disney and Pixar and even Warner Brothers have kicked that idea to the curb.

The studio still alienating part of its audience is Dreamworks. Because "Boss Baby" is a clear idea of something made only for children, while the adults in the auditorium are pulling out their hair. What's most striking is that Dreamworks is playing with some big metaphors here. Its sad that they never see the full potential in those metaphors. They are only focused on making things cute. Tim is a boy who wants to be an only child forever. Then a baby wearing as suit with Alec Baldwin's voice pops out of a taxi and Tim's parents decide the baby will be Tim's brother. Tim can't stand the attention his little brother gets now. It gets even worse when The Baby is a "Boss Baby" that works in an office with other super smart infants to preserve infant love.

Its a weird and odd storyline to follow as an adult, but I am sure children don't get too involved in the plot details. They are too busy laughing at Alec Baldwin's voice through that ridiculous baby body and being absorbed by the lush animation. Yes, Alec Baldwin scores some big laughs, yes the animation is richly detailed. But that's all gravy on the mashed potatoes. There is never a moment I feel connected to the characters or the storyline. There isn't a moment that feels right in the movie. Its all just pure fluff with no execution.

It's extra sad because there are some evident metaphors here that go nowhere. Older siblings feeling threatened by smaller siblings, feeling like you are getting replaced, younger siblings taking advantage of the attention. These are all real things children can feel in a family dynamic. All opportunities for "The Boss Baby" to reflect and discuss, but ultimately don't touch. "The Boss Baby" feels like one massive missed opportunity, and only feels involved in being cute and cuddly and nothing more.

Alec Baldwin is funny, the other voicework by Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Busecemi and Tobey McGuire is all good too. But its extra, and "Boss Baby" feels like a mixed bag of good extras. These extras never add up to a satisfying whole. There is some potential in the ideas of Dreamworks, but that potential is squandered time and time again. Yes the early "Shrek" years were good, and so was "Kung Fu Panda." Those movies displayed some real thinking outside the box. Nowadays, Dreamworks never wants to leave the box. That's really just sad all around.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Thor Ragnarok Trailer


I have talked about him before, but I really love the director Taika Waititi. Last year, one of the best films of last year was a film he directed. A highly original comedy called "The Hunt For The Wilderpeople." It worked so well because there was nothing else like it that came out last year, something I find more rare as the world moves along. Before "The Hunt For The Wilderpeople," Taika Waititi directed "What We Do In The Shadows." A mockumentary about vampires that is even more original than it sounds. Its awesome when you think you've seen the last creative stroke with vampires but then somebody else comes along and blows your mind with them. After these two movies, its become abundantly clear that Taika Waititi is in the same group as Wes Anderson and Woody Allen. Waititi has a comedic style of its own, it can't be compared to anybody else. Someone who is one in a million.

There is some of that Waititi humor in the new teaser trailer for "Thor: Ragnarok." When Thor is narrating the beginning of the trailer, the use of language in the scene, its such a Waititi move. I can't wait to see his signature in every scene in this movie. It looks like its on full display in this entire trailer.

I am wildly curious about this movie. I mean it revolves around the Norse mythology event of the end of the world. Their book of Revelation. But its a comedy? There is a dash of "World War Hulk" in the movie. They are introducing Hela (Cate Blanchett) and Valkyrie(Tessa Thompson). How will they fit into this? We know Doctor Strange will make an appearance in it. We know Thanos' presents is somehow involved in this. All sorts of other characters from Thor mythology will be introduced. And, what is going on with Loki who has assumed the identity of Odin in the last film. There is enough content in this movie for a nine-hour mini-series. Will Taika Waititi pull it off? Will the movie feel complete with all these moving parts?

I sure hope so. But so far, this looks awesome.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

March Madness: Heroes vs. Villains (Sixth Round Voting)

We are getting closer and closer to a winner. Sorry its been taking so long to get to the end. I promise not to string you along like this again.

We have our representatives for each bracket. Batman will once again represent the movie heroes, as he defeated Jyn Erso in a close vote, only generating 52% of the vote. Very, very close. On the TV heroes side of things, Arya Stark also edged out Daredevil in a close vote, only taking 57% of the vote. Very close both of those brackets. Moving into the sixth round, Batman will face off against Arya Stark.

On the villain side of things. Saruman has edged out Darth Vader from the competition. I know, I kind of can't believe it either. Saruman took 52% percent of the vote, a real upset and a shocker. But hey, that's what happens during March Madness. After two consecutive years of representing the villains, our favorite Sith Lord is out of the competition. On the TV Villains, Dr. Hannibal Lecter took out Gus Fring, generating over 70% of the vote. Dr. Hannibal Lecter will go against Saruman for the Villain title.

Our ultimate Hero and Villain showdown is nearly among us. You will have until April 12th to vote in this round. Get going!

Hero Bracket

Batman (1) vs. Arya Stark (3)

Villain Bracket

Saruman (6) vs. Dr. Hannibal Lecter (2)

You have until April 12th to vote!



Saturday, April 8, 2017

REVIEW: "The Discovery" is non-sappy romantic science fiction

The Discovery Review
I have never identified with a particular religion. I have always been a very spiritual person. I don't bag anybody for their religious beliefs and I hope, my audience, will lend me the same courtesy. Religion, like politics, is a tough subject to just discuss randomly with people, especially with strangers you are unsure about. With that said, I think most people are on the same boat when we discuss whether or not there is an afterlife. Do we just merely cease to exist after this time is over? Or is there another life after this one is done here? These are questions that have perplexed me for my entire life. I have often wondered if there is something after all of this.

"The Discovery" tells the story of a man that finds hardened proof that there is an afterlife. This discovery has led to several moments of acclaim, it has also led to several suicides. Many people desperate to get to the next life. The man, Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford), does not feel responsible for the high suicide rate following his discoveries. He says so in an interview a few years after his findings, right at the end of the interview, a member of the crew shoots themselves in the head. Harbor just sits, not phased. 

Thomas' son Will (Jason Siegel) goes to visit his father at his compound where he creates a machine to see the afterlife. On a ferry to the compound he meets Isla (Rooney Mara). Will swears he's seen her before, he just doesn't know from where. They have a discussion about the ethics of suicide due to the emergence of an afterlife. Soon after, Will finds Isla trying to drown herself on a beach, and Will reluctantly rescues her. Together, they stay at his father's compound, trying to find out if his father's discoveries are truly genuine or if there is a flaw in the system.

That's the big mystery of the movie, is the afterlife real or not? Its the big mystery of life too, every religion has their own theories about suicide. I know growing up in the Catholic church, suicide was greatly frowned upon. The idea of suicide was murder, so if you killed yourself, you were never getting into Heaven. Would something like that change if we had hardened proof that we WERE going somewhere after we died? What would that somewhere be though? Some place good or some place evil? Is there honestly any proof of it at all? Its a juicy premise for a movie, and writer/director Charlie McDowell tries to get the most out of his subject. It plays fairly well for most of its running time and sets up a scenario that feels original.

Siegel and Mara are both very good in this, I can't believe Siegel can actually act well when he's not trying to be funny. But its true, he gives a pure dramatic performance here. Robert Redford, as always, is absolutely incredible. He can take some of the more ridiculous moments in the movie and make them work on the screen. He has near perfect dramatic timing. Jesse Plemens, Mary Steenburgen and Riley Keough all give good supporting work here.

The only thing that stinks, that nearly kills the entire movie for me, is the "emotional sledgehammer" at the end of the movie. Its the "big reveal." At least, this movie pretends its a big reveal. Its sad, because this reveal is something we've seen hundreds of times in the past. You can probably guess where this movie is going to go after the first hour. I think how the movie gets from point A to point B is vaguely original, which saves this movie from being a complete trainwreck. But I was just a tad disappointed that a movie which started on such a strong footing ended in something I had seen too many times before. The ride there is great enough to recommend, I just wish its ending was just as ambitious as its beginning.

FINAL GRADE: B

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean 5 character posters

I have a real love-hate relationship with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

Back in 2003, I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into when I sat down in a packed theater to see the first movie. I hoped to like the film, I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I think its a great swashbuckler of a movie. We don't have lots of dependent blockbusters, but "Pirates of the Caribbean" certainly is. Then came the second and third films, which were pretty much two halves of the same movie. Those sequels felt like somebody trying to mix two cakes using one bowl, they are bloated movies and I don't think they quite work. They are both much better than the fourth film, which I found absolutely atrocious.

I honestly don't know how excited I am for a fifth film. This franchise is leaving a bad taste in my mouth with every new film, and I don't know how much stock is left in this franchise. However, Javier Bardem is in this, and he's already extremely creepy in the first trailer. The character posters were released this week. They look cool, but they are your standard character posters.






I got to say though, I love that old-school font

Please be good?

Review: "A Cure For Wellness" is neither a cure or wellness

A Cure For Wellness Review
In 2002, I fell in love with a horror movie called "The Ring," I have recently told several stories of my love for "The Ring," and I think it still holds up as one of the best modern horror films right now. That movie was directed by a man named Gore Verbinski. What always stuck with me about "The Ring," even after all these years, was how gracefully and authentically Verbinski created a world of dread in that movie. Its not just in the mood and the atmosphere he creates, but the character development and the music and the goddamn cinematography. That movie is scary because the world Verbinski created was scary, detail to detail. It all still holds up today.

Its interesting because I figured Verbinski would become a profound voice in the world of horror, but the next thing he did was "Pirates of the Caribbean," yeah you read that right, "Pirates of the Caribbean." He would also do "Rango" and "The Lone Ranger" and I kept thinking to myself, will Verbinski ever return to horror? Will Verbinski be a one hit wonder in the genre? I couldn't believe that it was over a decade and Verbinski never made another horror film.

Until now.

I wish I was more ahead of the curve on "A Cure For Wellness," because I would have ranted and raved about this film during its initial release, I would have begged you all to see this movie on the best screen you could find. Every single gift Verbinski unleashed when making "The Ring?" They are all on full display here in "A Cure For Wellness." Once again; mood, atmosphere, music, character, development, theme, and yes, the damn cinematography all play a part in making this film memorable. It will stick with you. Performances will stick with you. Moments will stick with you. There is subtle horror in this movie. There is surreal horror in this movie. There is body horror in this movie. I am trying to remember really hard, but there is not a single boo-scare in the entire thing. This is natural terror that sweeps through the two and half hour running time of this masterful motion picture. The year 2017 just keeps becoming better and better for the horror genre. 

One thing "A Cure For Wellness" has going for it is a great lead performance by Dane DeHaan, who is easily one of the best actors of his generation. DeHaan plays Lockhart, a young and ambitious worker at a large financial company. He is sent to retrieve the company's CEO from a beautiful but mysterious "wellness center" in the remote Swiss Alps. Lockhart seems to like what he sees, nothing out of the ordinary. Until he ironically gets trapped at the wellness center. He also begins to learn the bizarre history of the wellness center, and the sinister plans behind the leader of it. We feel the deterioration of Dane DeHaan's character, and its all surrealistically frightening.

Jason Isaacs has been one of our most reliable villain actors, and he does not disappoint here. You may remember him in "The Patriot" but he was just as good a villain in "Peter Pan" from 2003. He plays the leader of the wellness center and Isaacs really turns on the creep factor. There is a moment right at the end of the film that is so deeply disturbing that he may permanently scar you from the actor for a millennia. But he charges full steam ahead and never waivers from himself.

But easily the best thing about "A Cure For Wellness" is just how awesome it is that Gore Verbinski is back in the horror game. I sincerely hope that he stays here, because he deserves to be here. He's wonderful as a director and if he keeps down this path, he will be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

FINAL GRADE: A- 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

REVIEW: "Power Rangers" is a shot of nostalgic awesome!

Power Rangers Review

I was a big fan of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" growing up. I had toys, I never missed an episode of it on TV. I had my first crush on Kimberly, the pink ranger. I had a Power Rangers story on cassette tape. I had all sorts of Power Ranger related stuff, so they were definitely a big deal to me growing up. Working at a daycare every day, it lifts my spirits to know that these characters aren't going anywhere anytime soon. It puts the biggest smile on my face, when children know all the words to the original Power Rangers theme song, and I can jump in and sing it with them. I know the shows have expanded the mythology and changed things over the years, but the original line-up will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Which makes a remake of it a little wary to me.

We are living in a weird world of nostalgia these days. As much as I try to fight it personally, we see more and more people holding onto their pasts, judging things that aren't just like what they grew up with, a world refusing to let anything new or unique in. Perhaps that is why I feel movies in particular are taking a dip. Everything is all the same, everything is just a remake of a remake of a homage of something else. Its enough to make my brain hurt. There is very small pockets of originality anymore, and you really got to work for it to find it. As much as I am baffled by this new world of cinematic entertainment, I am just as baffled seeing that movies smothered in nostalgia still sell tickets. 

Living in a world of nearly non-stop nostalgia, the new "Power Rangers" movie is something of a miracle. "Power Rangers" isn't just a shining example of how to deal with nostalgic material in the twenty-first century, its a shining example of what is missing in movies today. I didn't know what to expect walking in to see this last night, but one thing I didn't expect was to be blindsided by just how wonderful of an experience it was going to be. I am not trying to say that "Power Rangers" is the Second Coming of Christ, because its certainly not. But its a movie that's packed with fun, its a movie that will honor lifelong fans of this material, while also giving it an update for new fans. No matter where you fall on the Power Ranger fandom, you will most likely find something to enjoy watching this movie in the theater. 

What blew my mind was that it wasn't set up at all like I expected. When I walked into this movie, I didn't expect to compare it to something like "The Breakfast Club." But honestly, if in the 1980's, had those kids in detention gone home that Saturday, found some alien technology, then suddenly became superheroes. Well, that's basically "Power Rangers." The movie takes its time introducing us to Jason Scott (Darce Montgomery), Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), Trini Kwan (Becky G) and Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin). These kids aren't just types, filled with ticks and mannerisms and no character development. These kids really don't speak in cheesy dialogue. These kids are kids. They have their own problems, they have their own insecurities, their hopes and dreams. They are young, they are desperate for a buzz. They are easily relatable. The movie spends much of its time making sure the audience gets to know them. The movie refuses to rush, it doesn't take character development with any half-measures. By the time our heroes have suited up and are fighting to save the day, its immensely powerful when they are put in a life-or-death situation. The audience feels it, because we care.

The movie also spends some considerable time setting up Bryan Cranston's Zordon, Elizabeth Banks' Rita Repulsa and even Bill Hader's Alpha 5. We learn why its so important that Zordon sets up the Power Rangers on Earth. The movie creates real stakes, the good guys don't clash with the bad guys simply because the movie calls for it in the third act. The movie earns that third act battle. Everybody does great work acting. Elizabeth Banks is hammy at times, and also downright creepy in others and I was shocked by just how absorbed I was watching her in her scenes. Bill Hader's comedic timing couldn't be better suited for his voice work in this movie. Bryan Cranston, even though we never really see his physical body, acts volumes merely by using his voice. 

How are the kids, they are all excellent. Its clear that there is some genuine personality on the pages of the script, and each of the kids translates those traits beautifully. Yes, there are some awkward and cornball dialogue at parts, but the kids roll with it easily. It seems so simple doesn't it? Simply putting character first in a movie like this. But after being burned year after year by "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe" and these other nostalgic spectacles, it's mind-boggling that something so simple would be so hard to do. Not here, though. These kids throw themselves at their roles. I also love that the value of teamwork is a major theme in this movie, and nobody really outshines anybody else in the big fight at the end. I think children will have a difficult time picking a favorite Power Ranger when this is all said and done.

There are some missteps. Some of the dialogue is corny. While the end-battle is thrilling, I think they got Goldar completely wrong. Yes, Goldar does appear, but he's nothing like his TV counter-part, in fact, I am not sure I can even call "him" a "he." I don't want to spoil anything for you, but the handling of this iconic villain is a little too stupid. I hate bringing up my personal baggage discussing this type of movie. I hate being the guy that says "well, in the [insert material here] they did this, and in [insert material here] they did that" But this is one of the drawbacks of being a huge fan of something, how you feel something should look like can be aggravating if it isn't like that in a finished product. I do try to avoid it at all costs, but I think there was some potential in Goldar that the filmmakers refused to eradicate, and its a little frustrating. However, if you've never seen a single episode of "Power Rangers" ever in your life, the Goldar debacle will sail clean over your head.

I am begging Hollywood right now, we need more movies like this. We need to be more willing to put character and story first over the notion of blowing things up. There is a mid-credit scene attached to the ending of this movie, and its a clear indication that these Power Rangers aren't going anywhere anytime soon. I am actually excited to see what's next. I am curious to see where these characters go from here. In any new franchise, that's all I can ask for. If you've ever enjoyed this story, this is a mostly fun ride to take.

FINAL GRADE: B+

TV REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (SEASON FOUR, EPISODE SIXTEEN)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

SEASON FOUR, EPISODE SIXTEEN- "WHAT IF"
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has had itself a little hiatus and now we are finally returning after a little over a month. When we last saw our heroes, they got trapped in The Framework, a virtual world created by Radcliffe and Aida using The Darkhold. Now, our heroes are living in a world where HYDRA rules, Inhumans are hunted, and aside from Daisy and Jemma, nobody knows who they once were in the real world. I think titling this episode "What If" is a sly joke toward Marvel comics in general. They used to write one-shot comics called "What If" and they'd take a popular storyline from their arsenal and reveres the results, they were always fun to read, and now, in a way, they are doing it now. 

So how about this world that Aida created? Well, Daisy isn't going by Daisy anymore, Daisy is Skye. She's dating Grant Ward, who is alive and well. They work for HYDRA, which apparently prevailed with their Project Insight mission (although its never outright said that Project Insight is the reason why they are in power, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is now a resistance movement.) May is a high-ranking HYDRA enforcer that doesn't recognize Daisy. Fitz is a high-ranking HYDRA officer that Daisy doesn't recognize. Coulson is a history teacher somewhere. Jemma is believed to be dead, although she later digs herself out of a grave early in the episode. Who is the body that she is buried to? Nobody knows yet. Most of this episode is dedicated to Jemma trying to hide from HYDRA officers, and we get a glimpse of just how fascist the world has become under HYDRA rule.

Why is HYDRA hunting Inhumans? Well, it has to do with the Cambridge Incident, which again, is vaguely discussed in this episode (It was made pretty clear this episode that we will be spending some time in The Framework, so get comfortable people!) but it had to do with the young Inhuman May discussed meeting on a mission back in season two. In this world, May didn't kill the girl, which led to her powers manifesting and killing several people in Cambridge. So okay, it makes sense why people fear Inhumans in this world, but it doesn't explain how HYDRA came to power, but I have a feeling we'll learn more next week. Remember that anti-Inhuman senator at the beginning of this season? Remember how she killed her brother for being Inhuman? Well, the brother shows up this episode, being interrogated by Skye and Ward for smuggling terrogen crystals. He doesn't show much significance yet, but we will surely keep an eye on his progress. I figured we'd see him again.

Skye and Jemma eventually hook up, trying to formulate a plan to stop this Framework. Things turn bad when they figure out that they can't get out and that their only way to get out of this world is through the S.H.I.E.L.D. resistance, which Ward is a member of. OOOOHHHH! Didn't see that coming, did you? Yep, in this world, Ward is a good guy. Ward will be taking Skye and Jemma to S.H.I.E.L.D. next week. After so many seasons of noting knowing what to do with Ward as a character, I suppose remaking him was stunningly appropriate.

The other big reveal tonight was revealing the leader of this HYDRA. Once again, the show is introducing a popular character from the comics, who was a major leader of HYDRA in the books. This is Madame Hydra, but in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Madame Hydra is Aida. The same actress plays both parts and I think Madame Hydra is just Aida's role in The Framework, and she's dating Fitz. That's a fun connection and all, but this is REALLY all they plan to do with Madame Hydra in the MCU? That's disastrously disappointing to me. A very memorable and great character in the comics books just gets reduced to a personality in an unreal world. A waste, if you ask me. But I will keep watching.

More than anything else, tonight's episode raised lots of questions. Is The Framework really a virtual world, or just an alternate reality made real through The Darkhold? Skye gets Coulson to remember her at the end of the episode, how? If Aida designed this to be a world without pain, why is HYDRA in control and everyone seemingly miserable? There is tons to discuss and debate for fans of this show and that's something that has been missing from this show all season, something to talk about. I initially thought three storylines in one season was pushing it, but it may turn out to be good in the long run. I also want to thank ABC for remembering Bill Paxton tonight, and if he were alive, his inclusion in this episode would have been insane.

(Keep a close eye out for clues tonight, there is one in particular that I think helps my theory that Project Insight ended up being successful!)

What did everyone else think?