‘Power Rangers’ Review

Director: Dean Israelite

Writer: John Gatins

Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G., Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader, David Denman and Bryan Cranston

Synopsis: A group of high-school kids, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credit scene.*

 

Power Rangers, if you’re like me and of the same age, that means something to you. Of course, the Power Rangers have gone through different incarnations since 1993, but that should show you that, not only is the brand still going strong, but it has a connection with people of every age. So when word broke that Hollywood was taking another stab at a big screen version of the Power Rangers, fans were concerned, intrigued and happy to see where this would go. So, does this new version of the Power Rangers work? Yes, yes it does.

Like mostly every incarnation of the heroes, the film follows five teenagers who are misfits in their own way. There’s Jason (Dacre Montgomery), a now former football star who gets into an accident at the beginning of the film ruining the school’s chances of a championship; Billy (RJ Cyler), who is mildly autistic in this version; Kimberly, the popular one who now finds herself outside her popularity; Zack (Ludi Lin), who is a bit of an adrenaline junkie and is a caregiver for his mother; and Trini (Becky G), the new girl who doesn’t fit in with her “normal” parents.

One night all of them come together, by chance, and find mysterious colored coins which end up giving them special abilities. When they go back to the site they found the coins, they find an abandoned spaceship where they meet the android Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston), who tells them they have been chosen to be the Power Rangers. Moreover, they have to train because the evil force of Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) has risen again and is in search of the powerful Zeo Crystals to destroy the world.

Power Rangers takes the basic premise of the first series – well, the American one anyway – and pulls concepts from other incarnations to reboot the whole thing and make it more modern and change the mythology we all know and love, which surprisingly works. The film feels like a mix of The Breakfast Club and Chronicle, but the story and characters stand on their own. Sure they have to save the world, but the characters try to find themselves amongst strangers, a mysterious head in a wall and a weird looking robot. Their journey is what keeps us engaged until we see them suit up. It’s a story that we can probably all connect to in our own way, but it’s the cast that makes it worth it.

For a group of relative unknowns, they did an awesome job making us by their characters. Dacre Montgomery’s Jason isn’t the typical jock although buying him as the leader was a little hard to buy at first, Naomi Scott’s Kimberly isn’t the Kimberly we all remember but carries something with her, Ludi Lin’s Zack is completely different from what we remember, but the caretaker aspect is an interesting one, Becky G’s Trini is the much talked about LGBTQ character, and while I was turned off by her attitude at first, she grew on me as the film went on. RJ Cyler’s Billy will undoubtedly be a fan favorite, and arguably is the heart of the film along with Bill Hader’s Alpha 5, which design is much better and less distracting once you see it move around. Bryan Cranston’s Zordon is perfect, but it’s Elizabeth Banks who fails on some levels. While she’s a bit of wildcard in terms of you never know what she’s going to do, she doesn’t really feel like a villain until the end. It’s nothing against Banks herself, but her Rita was just a little underwhelming for me. Oh, and Goldar is, well, he’s what we see in the trailers.

The film’s tone is also great. It’s got the right amount of cheesiness, humor, coming-of-age style and realness a new modern version Power Rangers needed. Sometimes the tone can be all over the place, but overall it’s pretty spot on. One scene, that is a great scene, but it came at a weird place is when the team start to really get to know each other. One complaint I know many will have is the amount of time the group have in the actual Ranger suits. It doesn’t come until the final act of the film, but I would say the team does deserve to earn the suits, which makes the wait for it to actually happen worth it.

All in all, Power Rangers is a great film for fans of the Power Rangers. The cast is great, the tone is spot on for the majority of the film along with the cheesiness the film needs. Also, for a film that is over two hours, it went by like a breeze. It’s also a great way to introduce new fans to the group of heroes we all loved as kids – and maybe even still to this day. It’s morphin’ time!

Power Rangers

4.5 out of 5

’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ Review

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Director: Michael Bay

Writer: Chuck Hogan

Cast: James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, Max Martini, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Alexia Barlier, Peyman Moaadi, David Giuntoli, Demetrius Grosse, Toby Stephens, Matt Letscher, and David Costabile

Synopsis: An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Based on the book my Mitchell Zuckoff and inspired by the real life events that happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi focuses more on the action and soldiers than it does with the geopolitical issue. Being directed by Michael Bay, you can only assume what you’re walking into action-wise, but despite my dislike for Bay and his recent movies, this is better than I had thought it would be. But if you’re looking for a more political aspect while watching, you’ll be left out in the cold.

13 Hours follows a team of former Special Forces ops who have turned into security contractors to watch over secret CIA installations in Benghazi. The team is lead by Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (Dale) who brings in an old friend in Jack Silva (Krasinski). When Silva arrives at the CIA outpost he meets the rest of the team in Kris ‘Tanto’ (Schreiber), John ‘Tig’ Tiegen (Fumusa), Dave ‘Boon’ Benton (Denman), and Mark ‘Oz’ Geist (Martini). We follow the team as they help out with some assignments that include helping/protecting Sona Jillani (Barlier) make a deal with a native, and helping more contractors in Dave Ubben (Grosse) and Scott Wickland (Giuntoll) help protect U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens (Letscher).

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Boon (David Denman), Jack Silva (John Krasinski), Tig (Dominic Fumusa), Tanto (Pablo Schreiber)

As we now know, something terrible happens and during the anniversary of September 11, Anti-American Libyans attack the CIA outposts. This leads our heroes to pick up their weapons and go against orders by the station chief, Bob (Costabile) to fight. What follows is the team protecting everyone in the station from a siege where they can’t tell who is there to help or kill them.

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Again, it’s directed by Michael Bay, so you know what to expect when you watching the action. I’m not saying the action is bad either. It’s actual nice to see a action film with Bay’s name on it that doesn’t include CGI robots hitting each other. Not saying the action is always easy to follow. It’s sometimes hard to make out who are heroes are from time to time, but if you want action, there is plenty of it in 13 Hours, and thankfully the majority of it is worthwhile.

That being said, the action can’t hold a whole movie together and 13 Hours would have feel shorter if it weren’t for the some of the cast. Before I get to them, I do want to mention that despite the little nuggets that every character gets, it isn’t until around the end of the movie that we finally start to get to really know them. Every character has their own traits and nuances, but again, it isn’t until around the end of the movie that we finally get to know them and what makes them tick a little more. Is it enough to root for them because they are the heroes of the movie? Take away the fact that all these people are based on real people that went through this terrible situation and event, but sometimes that isn’t enough, and other real life war events like this have done better at making us care about the character way before the end of the movie. That isn’t a knock on the real people that went through this, some of them even helped the crew to make the events more real, but I want to know more about a character and feel more for them, especially if there is a chance we may not see them make it until the end.

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Now thankfully, the cast do great with what they have. John Krasinski, who got really ripped for the role, is one of the most well-rounded characters, since he is the lead along with James Badge Dale’s ‘Rone.’ I’m glad to see Dale get a lead role because I think he’s one of the best underappreciated and unknown actors around. Pablo Schreiber’s ‘Tanto’ is the comic relief-type character, Dominic Fumusa’s ‘Tig,’ David Denman’s ‘Boon’ and Max Martini’s ‘Oz’ have their moments to shine, but are more background characters. David Costabile’s Station Chief Bob is the no-nonsense and dickish character that doesn’t think too highly of the group until they are his only hope to survive.

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Again, if you’re looking for a geopolitical movie that delves deeper into what happen in Benghazi, this isn’t a movie for you. This is an action movie about the guys on the ground that did everything they could and fought off everyone that came at them, and the people they protected that night. You do feel for the characters during this, despite what I said earlier, but not as much as we could if we got to know them more at the beginning of middle of the film. The film does touch on politics a bit when Bob and the people inside the compound try to get help, but that’s about it.

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All in all, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is much more of an action movie than it is a drama or even an action movie with political undertones. Instead Michael Bay decides to focus on the men that put their lives on the line and lets us see what they went through to survive. With solid leads in James Badge Dale and John Krasinski and some worthwhile action, 13 Hours is worth the watch.

 

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

3.5 out of 5