Power Rangers: The Krispy Kreme Movie

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Power Rangers is a movie that appeals to fans of the franchise and no one else. When I was growing up, I was never a fan of the franchise… You can anticipate on what my opinion of the movie is.

It starts off with a joke on masturbating a cow and it doesn’t improve much from there. There are six cardboard cutout characters (which I will explain later on) who are troubled teenagers in high school, find a cave with power coins that resemble colored rocks that contain the essence of a power ranger that gives them super powers. They have to stop a villain called Rita Repulsa who has the desire to blow up a small village called Angel Grove

The Characters: Generic as heck

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The blue one is cool at least…

All the main power rangers are almost entirely stock characters you have:

1. The one who was the quarterback football star that has fallen from grace and is a troubled teen (The red power ranger)
2. The one who is reserved and doesn’t speak until she reveals something personal about herself (The yellow power ranger)
3. The rule-breaker in high school who was a cheerleader and manipulative. She is the one who falls in love with the quarterback. (The pink power ranger)
4. The social outcast kid who is “on the spectrum” and gets bullied and only establishes a relationship of the quarterback only because the quarterback is using him. (The blue power ranger)
5. The one Asian guy who looks like a model and thinks he is too cool for school (The black power ranger)

Aside from the blue power ranger who was the autistic one (RJ Cyler), none of the other characters are interesting. There is character development in two scenes that feel forced instead of progressive. One is set in a fireplace where, all of a sudden, they reveal all their vulnerabilities when for the first 60 minutes, the movie was just making scenes that looked cool. The character development was rushed in my opinion. I guess you can say the acting was fine because they got through with what little they had in the script.

Do I have a taste for Krispy Kreme?

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I would like to know if Krispy Kreme covered the entire production budget. That is the only reason I can come up with why this product was mentioned. It is mentioned about ten times in the space of two minutes. It’s sort of like when Adam Sandler’s character asked incessantly in Big Daddy if the kid he taking care of wanted a happy meal.

The Krispy Kreme product placement was just awkward and jarring. It made no sense to the plot (although I am already asking too much for myself there that’s for sure) and the plot point that revolves around Krispy Kreme could have taken place anywhere but a Krispy Kreme. It’s like in Tropic Thunder when Matthew McConheys character travels in the Viet jungle just to deliver Ben Stiller’s character a TiVo subscription. Tropic Thunder was using product placement ironically whereas in Power Rangers it is force fed and cringeworthy.

The Last Thirty Minutes… Ugh.

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One is the villain in Gods of Egypt, the other is the villain in Power Rangers. Both are bad. Figure out which one is which

The last half an hour of Power Rangers is exactly the same as the last half hour of a Transformers movie: Large Robots (The Power Rangers barely fight in their suits) being used to beat a large bad guy (who is so poorly rendered in CGI that it looks like one of the Gods in Gods of Egypt) with slow motion at the points of impact and all the robots combine to morph into a super robot that reminded me of Optimus Prime. They even have a joke about Transformers. After what I saw, I didn’t care if that movie was aware they were in on the joke. This was not a good final act at all.

In between all the action, you have incessant product placement, so much so that everyone in Angel Grove records the event with Samsung phones. There are no Blackberries, Androids, and Apples to be seen. At least we now know who has cornered the Angel Grove market.

No more needs to be said. Aside from the autistic kid’s character (The one that’s sort of funny and is not initally arrogant or annoying), the entire movie felt like Transformers for kids. That is not a good thing. I can only imagine how desensitized people will become in the next 10 years from bloated special effects. The mantra for movies like Power Rangers is “More and more and more” I guess I will find out how bloated it will be when they churn out another five on them in the next decade. *

Beauty and the Beast: There’s Something There

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Beauty and the Beast is a movie taken in with some care. I thought the movie worked because of the acting, music, set design and special effects. The funny thing is that those elements of Beauty and the Beast sometimes threaten to swallow the movie up. Ultimately (and thankfully), that doesn’t happen but I was holding my breath up until the ending.

The last time I saw the animation was when I was about five years old. So I don’t remember much of it. However, I did read about what the remake added from the original after seeing the movie. Sadly, the majority of what was added to the story doesn’t add to the overall quality of Beauty and The Beast, it was just there. What was perhaps the most important addition was the origin story of The Beast himself which is how the movie started.

The Music: The Hits and The Misses

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Not in Beauty and the Beast but “Kiss from a Rose” would be the most on-the-nose track for this movie 🙂

Beauty and the Beast is a spectacle and it knows it. Every song in this movie is meant to express grandeur and splendor more than anything else. There are songs in which there is a large ensemble bellowing out tunes from the top of their lungs and the tips of their voices. The songs “Belle”, “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest” are times when it works and others like “The Mob Song” where it doesn’t.

The music ends up being essential to the movie and overall it does work. However, it’s music coupled with the special effects threaten to make the movie feel bloated and threatens the swallow up the story of the Beauty and the Beast. It doesn’t end up doing that, but I was afraid at times it would.

The Special Effects that Are so Special

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As you can see the CGI (and especially the set design) is godamn meticulous. Lots of browine points here!

I can imagine that the accountant responsible for creating the budget saw the line “Expenses: CGI- Spare no expense” and having a heart attack while the CEO said “Just trust me” as a validation. Beauty and the Beast commit to the special effects so much that judging the film goes hand-in-hand with it. It is abundant and it works.

The special effects are mostly colorful, believable and inventive. The best use of the special effects would go to the song “Be Our Guest”. Beauty and the Beast do manage (barely) to balance those special effects out. If every song was inundated like “Be Our Guest” was, I would have had to wash all those colors out of my eyeballs in a sink. Thankfully, Beauty and the Beast did not turn into “Alice Through The Looking Glass” from that perspective.

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Thank God Beauty and the Beast isn’t as oversaturated in colour like Alice Through the Looking Glass. Even though it boarders along that line.

 

The weakness in the special effect department was Beast himself. Main it’s because of character movement and facial expressions looking mechanical and not natural. There are sequences where he looks stiff and other moments in the climax where he had the agility of someone a quarter of his size.

Overall there was enough entertainment value in Beauty and the Beast to recommend, the acting is good (Josh Gad as LeFou gets the best lines so I’d listen to what he says) and the production and set design is rich and detailed and the music mostly works (unless you are fan of quiet and subtle music). It’s not in the musical leagues of Sing Street or La La Land, but Beauty and the Beast undoubtedly works and is fun ***1/4

Pepper Pig: My First Cinematic Experience- Hopefully not my Last

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Pepper Pig: The Movie is a film where pie will be thrown in my face. Why? Well, I, a 21-year-old man, went to the cheapest cinema in New South Wales at a 9:30 am session. I was miraculously on my own with no parents and kids. At that point, I reflected on what I was doing in my life, feeling as if watching kids show for 3-5 years olds on the big screen on my own was sad as hell.

The Pepper Pig Plot

Nevertheless, I was anticipating that as a movie, Pepper Pig will do me justice. It does do justice to all the five-year-olds at least. This movie is not even a movie. It is 73 minutes long and the movie is separated is 5-10 minute skits alternating between animation and live action Pepper Pig.

The story of the movie is all about Pepper Pig’s journeys and experiences around Australia and England. Pepper Pig and her family learn to surf, throw boomerangs, travel in a submarine and a double decker bus. All the kiddy kid stuff that kids enjoy.

Pepper Pig: A Critic’s Understanding

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The coffin shapeed room from Ratatouille: How People may see me from here on out.

I understand why the filmmakers made the movie the way it is. The short run time and skits exist because a young child has a small attention span. Still, using that logic, they literally have more of an attention span than a person who exclusively uses Snapchat. The entire movie is unabashedly enthusiastic because they want children to be constantly happy all the time.

The problem with Pepper Pig the Movie is there is noooooooooooo crossover appeal. This is where my review of this movie as a critic turns into armageddon.

Pepper Pig’s Doomsday

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Emma Grace Arends pictured left (obviously) is good at what she has to do. Despite that, it’s what she does that got under my skin

There is a girl called Daisy (Emma Grace Arends) who is in all the live action skits. She is fine in what she has to do. She is a mixture (and an amplification of) Deadpool and Giselle from Enchanted. She breaks the fourth wall constantly while having 1000% enthusiasm without ever looking like she has any self-awareness. That is the standard procedure if you appeal to little kids. Believe it or not, I did not mind this until she instructed the kids on what to do.

These next two paragraphs will descend into near fan fiction. You have been warned.

The Abattoir is Near

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As the only person in the cinema, It was as if she was talking directly to me. She wanted me to quack like a duck or pull the anchor off Pepper Pig’s ship. The worst one was when she wanted me to act like a monkey. Every time she did this I sunk in my seat as there was a massively awkward vibe in the large empty room. What made it worse was is that she would constantly say “You can do (insert action/imitation here) better” before accentuating the action/imitation she wanted me to perform. It was like a stand-up comedian dying on stage and thinking if he repeated the same joke but louder, it would be funnier.

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“Hey I’m Dane Cook and I got a joke: Your mum ha ha ha. (crickets chirping) I don’t think you got the joke. I said YOUR MUM!” (crickets, chirp louder, a pin drop is heard). Now you sort-of know how I was feeling dear reader.

Knowing that Pepper Pig was a 73-minute film beforehand, I decided to check my watch, thinking (and praying) there was not long left. Only 30 minutes went by. Less than half the movie was over. I lost patience and checked every five minutes hoping to God. HOPING TO GOD that it was over. Then I felt embarrassed that people would see me leave a Pepper Pig screening on my own. Walking up the ramp was like walking the greenest of green miles.

While Pepper Pig is inherently better than Monster Trucks (as the movie is not ludicrously disorganized and tries to teach kids to interact with the world and their surroundings) I cannot in good faith say I enjoyed Pepper Pig. The positives were easy to find and give it some value but that experience was not fun. One star for the learning aspect of Pepper Pig, the other for  Emma Grace Arends NO MORE **

P.S. Sorry that it has been awhile since my last posting. There was nothing new on this week (exept for pepper pig) at my local multiplex. I was also sick too 🙂 The next couple of days I more than make it up for you readers. 

Kong Skull Island: A Deliciously Deep Fried Chicken

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Kong: Skull Island is like a delicious piece of fried chicken: Easy to digest, satisfies you for a couple of hours, but not expected be great for you. That is totally fine. I have eaten fried chicken knowing it wasn’t healthy. I eat it because it is delicious. If having a thrill ride is your mantra, Kong: Skill Island will achieve that goal.

The film opens with a montage of war and postwar history from the Second World War to the Vietnam War. This is interspersed with the actor’s names printed on the screen. The way that was shot combined by who was in it (Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and especially Bree Larson) made me believe that Kong: Skull Island was going to be fantastic. I thought that it would be a perfect blend of action and story.

Is Kong. Is Good.

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Apocalypse Kong

Instead, we get a lot more action than the story here. The action was entertaining to watch and I had fun with it. The story was mildly interesting at best. Ultimately, Kong: Skull Island is a success because it never drops the ball and doesn’t make bad mistakes. Combined with the fact that Kong: Skull Island moves at a brisk pace and never bored me made it a pleasing experience for me as I watched it.

The best thing in Kong: Skull Island was easily the cinematographer and the special effects. What was interesting about the cinematography in Kong: Skull Island was that it took a lot of inspiration (and even copied a scene) from Apocalypse Now. From the bright, musky, orange-red sunsets to the aerial bombing of a jungle while playing on-the-nose music. At least the filmmakers were smart enough to use things from a great film while not using it as a crutch, I just wish it wasn’t done that way so obviously.

The special effects and the action sequences were also done well. It was good but nothing close to spectacular of different. They make a jump scare that was actually frightening and the climatic fight felt visceral and I easily bought it. They had one weird moment where King Kong was eating a giant octopus and the tentacles were hanging from his mouth which was odd. Finally, the best moment in the film for me involved a suspenseful, ingenious scene involving the sounds of flash photography and big bad reptilians.

Kong Be Better Next Time

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Mummy Where’s my Barbie!

The frustrating thing about Kong: Skull Island is that they play so safe that it’s not funny. There is no character development whatsoever despite the fact that the characters were well-established. I got that Hiddleston was playing a hunter and explorer but that was it. Larson plays a pacifist and a photojournalist, but that was it. Knowing how well they established these characters combined with the overall quality of this movie, I know the filmmakers could have easily pulled off a character driven story with great action simultaneously. That would have been awesome. Logan is a movie that did just that while Kong: Skull Island doesn’t. It sticks to the failsafe formula it knows it can achieve: A popcorn action movie.

So overall, Kong: Skull Island is a good movie to watch if you are thinking about watching it. If you weren’t thinking about watching it, you probably won’t enjoy it. If you have time on your hands and want to be entertained for two hours, Kong: Skull Island will do just that ***1/4

The emoji movie challenge

I was on Twitter and experimenting with emojis when I had the sudden thought: “Why don’t I play an emoji game with my audience?”

It’s a fun little activity that involves less reading and more problem solving. Listed are 20 emojis. All of them are films that were released in 2016 (In America at least). Can you solve all of them? If you can get more than 15 of them I will give you 15 emoji dollars. All you have to do is leave your answers in the comment section on this blog post. If you get all 20, you get 100 emoji dollars.

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PS. If you manage to get numbers 3, 10, 15, 16 and/or 19 you are a God. I was limited by the emojis on Twitter and I would have put better/easier emojis on them . If you can solve those ones specifically you did a great job. I will post the answers either 24 or 48 hours after this posting

Good luck and have fun 🙂

Who Killed Captain Alex? Bizzarly Works

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I am reviewing something quite odd. When I first heard about, and saw snippets of, Who Killed Captain Alex? words couldn’t describe it but I had to watch it. It is like Cool Runnings and The Gods Must Be Crazy on acid.

Is Who Killed Captain Alex? flawed in its storytelling, sequential editing, music selection, special effects, convincing dialogue, cinematography, and acting? Well yes but if you’re given the context about the making of the movie, Who Killed Captain Alex? brings a whole new perspective. Most of the cinematic errors are forgivable in my eyes due to the context on how the film was made.

The Context and the Plot

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The production budget

The Context: Here is how dedicated the director was in making Who Killed Captain Alex? This movie was made in Uganda where the director sold everything he owned for a camera so he could film. The director also made his own computer so he could edit. The entire production budget was 200 dollars and all the actors were just excited to be in a movie and did it for free.

Who Killed Captain Alex? is not for everyone. I can understand that, but this is unbelievably crazy. It’s so crazy that it works. The reason it works is that, given the context of the making of this film, it captures the spirit of filmmaking and it commits to its crazy cinematic style. This is the film that xXx: The Return of Xander Cage wishes it could be.

The plot: Captain Alex is a soldier who was hired by the government to kill the drug cartel group The Tiger Marfia. Unfortunately during one of his raids Captain Alex is killed. It is now up to captain Alex’s brother called Bruce U (Uganda’s Bruce Lee) to defeat the Tiger Marfia and end the mayhem once and for all.

Who Killed Captain Alex? and the Enormous Effort

There is a narrator throughout the movie called the video joker. His role, from what I was hearing, was to say things that were completely random (and funny) in his Ugandan voice. During action scenes, the video joker said things like “Supa Fighter” and “Movie! Movie! Movie!”, it’s like Deadpool without the wit while retaining the humor. He constantly breaks the fourth wall left right and center. It works. It actually freaking works. I was stunned.

The Actors: How they try so hard.

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I think all of the male actors know karate and it surprisingly half decent.

I remember in high school how there were people who were in their first production. They tried so hard because they were not offered a drama course. Who Killed Captain Alex? reminded me of that moment. They were trying so hard to be great that I am giving them points based on that principle. As I have said. This movie works because it reeks in the spirit of a joy in filmmaking.

Some of the actors are alethetic in their fighting sequences. I believe that Jackie Chan could take some of these actors under his wing with his stunt crew. There is a training montage with Bruce U, that reminded me of the training montage of The Karate Kid (the 1980’s version). I saw effort in that guy. It wasn’t smooth, but the energy from his performance shows and because of that it’s admirable that he tried.

When I finished Who Killed Captain Alex? I knew I watched something special. Nor great, but special. It was incompetent filmmaking mixed with ambition and the result is something oddly charming and magical ***1/4

Groundhog Day Tw- uh… Before I Fall Review

 

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Remember when Bill Murray wakes up at 6:00 am every morning to this Sunny and Cher song “They put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no mountain we can climb.” Oh Before I Fall, you certainly created an unassailable mountain climb with that premise of yours.

Although I can say that Before I Fall acts in good faith by trying to be its own thing and having good intentions, it embellishes itself into the sad state of reminding you of better films that you could be watching. The one film that Before I Fall reminded me of the most was Groundhog Day because the premise and plot points are exactly the same and therefore predictable.

The Plot: Zoey Deutch plays a self-centered teen and only wants to socialize with other self-centered girls. After a night out partying and making fun of people the girls retreat to their car and by 12:39 am, she gets involved in a fatal accident that wasn’t so fatal. She wakes up the next day and relieves it over and over again until she realises she needs to be a good person to break the curse of reliving the same day.

I wish Before I Fall was better: A lot better

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This is Before I Fall: Stuck in the timewarp both as a story and as a movie unfortunatly.

What Before I fall does differently to Groundhog Day is the dramatization. It goes for the route of finding moral redemption in a world where it’s hard to find. It works at the end, but it stumbles across the line with narrative cliches and shoehorning their messages across (There’s a poster on the wall that says something along the lines of “Be yourself” or “Be different”)

For what it is, Before I Fall is mildly interesting overall but I didn’t find the supporting characters too interesting, the cinematographer loves to shoot in shades and hues of blue (except for the party scenes which are in a completely red tint like being in a photo lab) and lines of dialogue were sometimes ill-timed (but not cringeworthy). In other words, lots of little things really hurt the movie’s overall quality.

I understand what the Before I Fall is intending to communicate it’s target audience (young adult females) and I like the intention. I am mixed about the movie for what it is, but Before I Fall suffers in the sense that it constantly reminded me of far better movies (like Mustang, Groundhog Day etc.) and it does absolutely nothing new with its premise. This, sadly, makes Before I Fall cinematic mediocrity **1/2.

 

Logan: A Great Send Off

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Logan is a great movie that meets the high standards that Marvel have produced in recent years. Logan is much better than the mediocre X-Men Apocalypse and ventures into concepts that don’t get deeply explored in a normal superhero movie. Those concepts being mortality and familial relationships between generations. For a superhero movie, Logan is amazingly down-to-earth.

Set in 2029, Mutants have become nearly extinct, Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) health is failing  and works as a limo driver. He takes care of a frail Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in hiding. Logan is approached by a woman to take care of this girl called Laura (who is a mutant) and send her to North Dakota before this evil organization captures her. The girl, location, and organization are significant, but I won’t elaborate further as they are large plot points which I don’t want to spoil it.

Logan’s Struggle Within

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What I enjoyed the most about this movie is Hugh Jackman acting as he portrays a human being more than a superhero. There is no motivational rhetoric or spandex. It is about how he helps people despite being hounted by his mortality, and yet still has to learn from life. What is so good about Logan is that the movie does not detract from that message.

An example of how they don’t stray from Logan’s struggles is the action set pieces being low-key (very few explosions and CGI special effects). I believe they are deliberately set up to be low-key so the viewer doesn’t get distracted from the characters. It’s kind of funny that a movie like Logan works off this thing called character development. It’s an unfamiliar concept to too many action movies. They should try it out sometime!

Logan’s Sidekicks being Sidekick-ey

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Logan’s lovely sidekicks. I realised that this movie could be interpreted as a superhero version of Manchester by the Sea. I am an odd person.

Speaking of character development, they have great supporting actors that help accentuate the character of Wolverine. Patrick Stewart has two great moments as Charles Xavier but the best supporting actor goes to the bilingual Dafne Keene who plays Laura- a character that rarely speaks. Keene plays it with a peculiar hybrid of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (The growling, violent tendencies) with Alex Hibbert in Moonlight (The silent child internalizing her struggle and learning about the real world). She gets into some comedic situations at a service station that inadvertently gives Logan some humanity. It was simultaneously funny and sweet.

Out of all the Marvel movies I have reviewed so far, Logan is the one that feels like a character study. This was a smart move because it’s different and it works. I did not love Logan to the extent of hardcore fans (I have talked to a couple of them. They believe it is perfect) but I understood and liked the sentiment behind everything. It is a worthy send-off for The Boy From Oz and the man on The Enterprise ****1/4