Power Rangers (2017)

friendly-critic

Title: Saban’s Power Rangers (aka. “Gay Propaganda = 1 Lesbian” – Russia, 2K17)

Release: March, 2017

Nostalgia is officially in full swing. Due to this, I imagine I will find it difficult to maintain composure and fair-mindedness while reviewing this film (Ohmygosh it was so great beyond belief so good amazing). Darn, there goes my grammar.

 

Me and four kids found a spaceship buried underground. I’m pretty sure I’m a superhero.

– Trini

In the town of Angel Grove, the lives of five teenagers are about to change. A lot. When teenagers Jason, Billy, Kimberly, Trini and Zack discover a spaceship buried under a gold mine, they are gifted with the skills of the Rangers and tasked with defeating the villainous Rita Repulsa. Yes, it sounds dorky, but it is awesome.

When it was first announced that Saban and Lionsgate were in cahoots to create the film in mid-2014, there was a lot of scepticism. Particularly from me. I think we can all agree that the base material for this project can be described in an array of ways; cheesy, ridiculous and pretty dumb being among them. Yet it’s cult following remains prominent today. Well, sort of… What the hell is Super Megaforce? Regardless, translating the power rangers to the big screen for a modern audience was a big ask.

The film is not just your run of the mill action flick. It addresses real issues. Billy Cranston, the blue ranger deals with autism. Trini, the yellow ranger deals with labels. Zack, the black ranger deals with being the sole caretaker for his sick mother. Heavy stuff for this mere ‘franchise window dressing’. The film handles the issues directly and carefully decorating the main characters as beautifully flawed, real people.

Can we talk about Rita? I’ll admit. I was doubtful about the casting of Elizabeth Banks, if only due to the fact that she seems like a delightful human being. By gosh, the lady can act. Banks shone as the villain, a role that was ultimately perfect for her. Sure, Repulsa’s plan was a little awry but she’s been at the bottom of the ocean since dinosaur times. That’s a perfectly satisfying reason to have lacking preparation for her Angel Grove takeover.

It’s morphin’ time.”

– Jason

Director Dean Israelite gives the rangers a contemporary makeover combined, in suitable distribution, with subtle (and not so subtle) nods to its source material, creating a film what will no doubt usher in an abundance of new era Power Rangers fanatics, all while satisfying the nostalgia-hungry children of the 90s (like me).

Verdict: Return to Angel Grove and go see this movie.

Pork Pie (2017)

friendly-critic

The whole country is watching as police close in on the blondini mini.

– Reporter

Title: Pork Pie (aka. #BlondiniGang)

Release: February 2017

A consistently amusing remake of the original kiwi classic Goodbye Pork Pie, sees the talents of Dean O’Gorman, James Rollerston and Ashleigh Cummings gliding onto the big screen and into our hearts. Three distinct and colourful personalities caught in the centre of an accidental police chase can surely only lead to chaos. Have no fear, for that it does.

The film follows Jon (O’Gorman), a neurotic almost-author seeking to get back a girl he wronged. Seeking a ride to Invercargill, he meets Luke (Rollerston) an adept boy-racer who picks him up in a stolen yellow mini, just as in Geoff Murphy’s 1981 hit. Later they encounter Keira (Cummings) a passionate animal rights activist who quits her job at a drive-through burger joint to join the two.

In a film with few characters, chemistry is of the utmost importance. With an straight-forward love interest blossoming between Luke and Keira and a wonderful friendship (or, let’s be honest, bromance) between Luke and Jon flourishing towards the end, Pork Pie seizes beautiful moments and encases them in humour and sadness to create a thoroughly entertaining film.

I’m taking this bloody car to Invercargill.

– Jon

The action sequences are the pinnacle of excitement throughout the film. The stakes are high and the adventures ceases when, and only when the credits roll. With an unrelenting and addictive momentum, Pork Pie is a truly entertaining motion picture. This is a winner for New Zealand film.

Verdict: While updated for the audience of 2017, Pork Pie does not fail to capture the spark that made the original such a success. A must-see for all of New Zealand and beyond.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

friendly-critic

This is Rogue One.

– Bodhi Rook

Title: Rogue One (aka. Jyn Erso and the Rogues *squeals*)

Release: December 2016

It’s fair to say, the Star Wars legacy is thriving. Rogue One, the highly anticipated prequel (and sequel I guess), takes place right before A New Hope.

This is the tale of the rebel spies who succeeded in capturing the plans to the formidable Death Star allowing the events of the Original Trilogy to unfold (and making the Episode IV rolling credits that little bit more magical).

Lead by Jyn Erso, the ‘reckless, aggressive and undiciplined’ daughter of Galen Erso, a scientist for the Galactic Empire, the Rogue One team

WARNING: May contain spoilers.

Read more

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

friendly-critic

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (aka. Snakes in a Teapot)

Release: November 2016

Yesterday, a wizard entered New York with a case. A case full of magical creatures. And unfortunately, some have escaped.

– Porpentina Goldstein

For this classic adventure, we travel to New York in the 1920s alongside Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his mysterious suitcase of Fantastic Beasts. Roll credits. (I need to stop watching CinemaSins) On his first day in the Big Apple, Scamander meets Porpentina  “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), a witch and former auror for the Magical Congress of the United States of America and inadvertently switches suitcases with Jacob  Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a no-maj or muggle who accidentally releases some of Scamander’s creatures risking the exposure of the magical community.

Redmayne’s performance as the timid and compassionate Newt is compelling enough to keep you engrossed in the movie. He cares so intensely about his creatures and every moment one is in peril, you feel it, even all the way at the back of the cinema. Fresh off an award-nominated role in Inherent Vice, Waterston’s Tina complimented Redmanye beautifully. Initially determined to regain position within MACUSA, Tina’s motivation soon changes and she finds herself helping Newt for reasons different from when she started.

I don’t think I’m dreaming.

– Jacob Kowalski

A stand out performance came from Fogel’s Kowalski as the humorous sidekick of Newt Scamander. As a no-maj, Kowalski’s lack of understanding of the magical world make for an entertaining watch. Secretly an idealist, Kowalski becomes a part of the community and commits to helping his new friends, despite being completely normal. There’s hope for us all.

Though a different tale and a different time, the underlying magic of the Harry Potter universe remains the same.

Verdict: Is there anything Eddie Redmayne can’t do?

Doctor Strange (2016)

friendly-critic
Title
: Doctor Strange (aka. Marvel’s Kaleidoscope)

Release: October 2016

Might I offer you some advice? Forget everything that you think you know.

– Baron Mordo

Doctor Strange is somewhat of an enigma in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In comparison to the likes of Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers, the acclaimed neurosurgeon Stephen Strange has had much less, shall we say screen time.

In the MCU’s 14th big screen endeavour, we are exposed to an array of new concepts; the magical arts, the mirror dimension and of course the blisteringly candid, (gem of the Earth) Wong.

Benedict Cumberbatch brings to life the charismatic but avoidably arrogant, Stephen Strange, an incredibly talented neurosurgeon who loses the use of his most valuable utensil, his hands. Cumberbatch’s excellent portrayal humanises a character which would typically be shunned from the audience’s empathy. A cocky scientist who drives recklessly, dismisses any opinions who are not his own and takes Rachel McAdams for granted. Who would root for him? This makes Strange’s arc from ‘contemptible doctor’ to fully fledged Marvel Superhero so compelling. It also does not hurt to look at Benedict’s beautiful face.

If we can take a moment… Tilda Swinton. *Thinks in awe, about Tilda Swinton for a solid three minutes.*

Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.

– Wong

Doctor Strange perfectly fulfils the requirements of an MCU movie. It is a stand alone film that introduced us to a unique and underrated character as well as providing the exhilarating fight sequences and stimulating character development we expect.

All is building to The Avengers: Infinity War and Doctor Strange’s contribution was not only important but incredibly entertaining.

Verdict: The visual effects create an incredibly complex creation defying the laws of physics in tremendous fashion. WARNING: Do not watch while on drugs!

Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie (2016)

friendly-critic

Title: My Scientology Movie (aka. Feature Length Proof that Tom Cruise is Crazy)

Release: October, 2016

We’ve all heard stories about the wacky notions implemented within the church of Scientology, but few of us really know the extent of how severe the stories of certain ex-members actually sound. Louis Theroux is back in spectacular fashion as he attempts to make sense of the practices taking place within L. Ron Hubbard’s secret organisation.

Instead of interviewing prominent members within the church (since he was repeatedly and impolitely refused), Theroux instead works with Mark Rathbun, a former senior church official (or embittered ex-member with a vendetta against the church) to cast actors in the roles of David Miscavige and the church’s most famous member, Tom Cruise.

Andrew Perez shines as the allegedly vicious and unforgiving dictator of the church, David Miscavige. He brings an intensity that is quite frankly, chilling. Under the guidance of Mark Rathbun, Perez recreates a truly terrifying image of the church’s leader.

Many times throughout the documentary, the film crew is followed by other, unidentified film crews. Whether they were all sent by the church remains somewhat of a mystery but Theroux’s reactions to what appear to be, military style workings within the society, are amusing and unsettling.

It is a public road.

– Louis Theroux

Despite not being granted interviews with any relevant members within the church of Scientology, Theroux still succeeds in creating a powerful documentary which explores the extremes that the church will go through to ‘defend itself’.

Verdict: You will be overwhelmed by the odd union of hysterical laughter and utter disbelief at an organisation so morally ambiguous, it begins to concern you.

Suicide Squad (2016)

friendly-critic

I want to build a team of some very dangerous people, who I think can do some good.

– Amanda Waller

Title: Suicide Squad (aka. Boss: Starring Viola Davis.)

Release: August 2016

It was the most anticipated movie of the summer. How could it possibly live up to the hype? Forecasted as the epic launch of DC’s rejuvenated line of live action blockbusters and after the critical downfall of the likes of Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice, David Ayer and the crew of Suicide Squad had a colossal task ahead of them.

Though it was savagely dissected by critics mere days before being released to the general public, this didn’t stop the expendable band of misfits from smashing box office records on their opening weekend.

Will Smith takes the reigns as Floyd Lawton aka. Deadshot with a performance so morally ambiguous, it rivals the likes of Wade Wilson and Walter White. “Another textbook sociopath”. Smith’s illustration of Deadshot highlights the villain’s divide between his indifference over his profitable assassinations and the affection he has for his daughter.

Of course, it’s Margot Robbie’s portrayal of the psychiatrist-turned-psycho Harley Quinn, in Quinn’s live-action debut, that steals the show. Robbie manages to reincarnate the unhinged Clown Queen of Gotham City, yet still highlighting the character’s humanity. Her witty one-liners and vivacious physical comedy are likely to be remembered.

 

You know what they say about the crazy ones…

– Captain Boomerang

Don’t let the critical evaluations of this film deter you from buying a ticket. The accelerated plot may seem daunting but the thrilling action sequences, the convoluted characters and the respectful nodding gesture towards the comic books make this film a thoroughly enjoyable watch.

Verdict: Try not to over analyse and enjoyment shall be had. Plus, who’s excited to see those DVD extras? Huh?

 

Ghostbusters (2016)

friendly-critic

“Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.”

Title: Ghostbusters (aka. McKinnon and Jones take New York)

Release: July 2016

The reboot of the 80s classic settles for more than being ‘just fine’. Rebooting a timelessly classic franchise is not a quest to be taken lightly, yet Paul Feig embraced the opportunity like the gallant champion of movies he is.

We’re quickly introduced to a brand new team of brilliant scientists; the straight-laced Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), the paranormally driven Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and the bizarre Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), who also happens to be a total genius. By the good fortune of New York, our team of experts are assisted by the unapologetic Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) who may not have a PhD in EctoEngineering or Ghostonomics but certainly brings more than her fair share of genius to the table. Specifically, everything that makes the Ghostbusters, ghostbusters: transportation, four flashy jumpsuits and a whole bundle of spectre directed wit.

McKinnon’s Holtzmann, euphorically lost in the depths of her own wackiness, proves to be just as badass as the rest. That one scene, you know the one. Case closed. It’s a pleasure, nay privilege, to watch her character unfold onscreen. It’s been said before and I will reiterate; Ghostbusters will do for McKinnon what Bridesmaids did for McCarthy.

Jones’ Tolan proves to be the team’s most valuable asset however when it’s revealed  its her knowledge of New York’s extensive history that will save the city from Rowan North (Neil Casey) and his dastardly ghouls. Jones brings to life that one character most, if not all of us can relate to.

“Okay, room full of nightmares. Not going in there.”

– Patty Tolan

The film does an incredible job in addressing the film’s haters, integrating them into the movie in a comedic yet civilised way. “Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts.”, plucked straight from the entertaining scene in which our protagonists read the tactless comments beneath the footage of their spooky apparition.

Verdict: Don’t let the ‘unparalleled insight’ of the online haters, (with their comments about a movie they probably haven’t seen) sway you into missing a thoroughly enjoyable film.