*NEW* POWER RANGERS REVIEW *NEW*

Go, go . . . Watch something else.

Another reboot bites the dust. Messy, corny, long at the tooth. How could a movie involving alien superpowers and giant robots be so god damn boring?

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

I grew up with the Power Rangers. The original TV show. I had all the merch; the Red Ranger outfit, the little gloves that made the karate kick sound, the MegaZord, the Green Ranger’s Dragon sword. The list goes on.

To cut a long story short, I’m a fan. Well, was. Of course nearing my 30s, the cynicism was always going to be there. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see my childhood TV show get the Hollywood reboot treatment.

The disorienting shaky handicam opening with bad boy Jason being pursued by the police didn’t build my hopes up.

The pace was a little long at the tooth, to say the least. I understand that the characters are teenagers and the original Power Rangers team never really had a lot of depth to them. Too busy punching putty people to worry about who doesn’t like them at school.

The movies were hardly perfect and got increasingly worse as the franchise turned to Turbo Force, Jungle Rangers and God knows what else.

I could respect that the writers tried to inject some teen angst on these social outcasts BUT it was far too corny and dull for the film. Too serious for its own good.

When things kicked off, my griping was subdued. BUT I didn’t really like the new faces. I did approve of the reshuffling of the colour assignment. A running gag that did draw a cheeky grin. A sly dig at the original show’s writers.

Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things) didn’t do a bad job as Jason. His character was just such an immature airhead that after all the build-up, his swift transformation to leader of the pack was rushed.

Even I was as cynical as Zordon at his sudden change in behaviour.

Naomi Scott played Kimberley well. Her melodrama was a little tame after all the sulking and acting out. Some cheerleader hazing after sharing a “dodgy” picture. Bleurgh.

I actually liked RJ Cyler (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl) as Billy. A complete change in character. The socially awkward nerd with a suggested learning disability. The glue that kept the gang together.

Trini’s (Becky G) sexuality question mark felt lazy and tacked on. It failed to add any depth to her character. Her parents’ OTT behaviour didn’t help matters either.

Ludi Lin was incredibly irritating as Zack. The one performance that surprised me was Elizabeth Banks. I thought the Pitch Perfect princess would ruin the role of Rita Repulsa BUT she nailed it. Her cold stares, her whispery voice. She was actually quite creepy.

It was only in the silly finale when she tried to apply her comedy schtick that I felt it killed a reasonably decent performance. Shame.

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston was brilliant as Zordon. The Emmy award winning actor was heavily underused in his role. He managed to bring gravitas to a naff grainy PC background.

His frustration and cynicism towards his new found army was a breath of fresh air – “These kids are MY rangers?! They will never be ready”.

Maybe his frustration was genuine after being roped into this movie?

NOT even Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) could work his voiceover magic as Alpha Five. The CGI on the android looked terrible. What’s wrong with props and costumes?

 

Yikes!

The gang’s training montages were watchable and entertaining enough. It just didn’t help that the characters were so bland and irritating.

The special effects weren’t too bad. Especially when they finally got to be Power Rangers! Zordon’s underground lair discovery was also quite impressive.

The only problem with a 124 minute film, the Rangers only morphed in the last 20 minutes (If that!). By the time that horrendous remastered theme song blared through the speakers, my fan boy excitement was already gone.

I was fidgeting in my seat for a good portion of the film. Let alone the little ‘uns.

When it got going, it was watchable and the fun if ridiculous finale delivered more of what I expected from the get go. Action packed punch ups, crazy effects and silly banter. If there was to be another, there’s going to be a lot of work to do.

I had to smile at the blink and you’ll miss it cameos BUT I was left disappointed and wanting. No Bulk and Skull? No putty people? Just some stupid rock things.

This could have been so much fun. Alas, it was not to be.

2.5/5 (Just)

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*NEW* THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. REVIEW *NEW*

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Slick, cool, funny. Guy Ritchie is back with a bang!

In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill – Man of Steel) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer – The Lone Ranger) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

I know that this was based on the original TV show BUT I’ve never seen it so I can’t make comparisons on Ritchie and writer Lionel Wigram’s (Sherlock Holmes) adaptation.

The first hour was action packed and reminded me of the spy movies of old. An elongated opening car chase ticked all the boxes (Even if it was hindered by shoddy CGI). It certainly injected the fun back into the spy genre. Now that the Bond films have gone in a darker direction, I felt the corny one liners and light humour was a much needed tonic. Giving the piece a nostalgia feel.

Cavill was fantastic as Solo. The more I watched him steal the show, the more I thought to myself, “Bond”. Despite playing an undercover CIA asset, he would have been a perfect replacement. The looks, the charm and the charisma. But alas, the Justice League has claimed him as the Man of Steel for the foreseeable future.

I loved the dynamic between the trio. They were perfectly cast. The fiery Alicia Vikander playing the reluctant mother to two sparring boys. Cavill and Hammer worked well together and made Solo and Kuryakin’s fractious relationship entertaining as hell. “This is not the Russian way!” It was good to see Hammer excel as ‘The Red Peril’ after the lacklustre Lone Ranger.

The quick witted exchanges and uneasy tension kept me going (Through some of the sillier moments) with the pair constantly trying to get one up on each other at every turn. From their overcompensating gadgets and hotel room bug stand-off to dressing Gaby (Vikander) for her cover -“The shoes won’t match. They don’t need to match”.

Vikander and Hammer had great chemistry as Gaby is reluctantly assigned to Kuryakin as his undercover fiancee. I just wish Vikander’s back story was more interesting. The story line involving her missing scientist father was a little weak. I loved how we only got tidbits of Solo and Hammer’s past.

Jared Harris was wasted in his small supporting role as Solo’s handler Adrian Sanders. He delivered yet another another mangled accent BUT at least this one was better than his Irish rendition in that horrific Poltergeist remake.

However, the second half of the film was where things went wrong. It was very clunky and disjointed. The tone was mismatched and took a much more serious turn that didn’t quite work. A highly macabre scene involving the pair bickering while their suspect was being roasted on an electric chair in the background was too much. Especially after the easygoing pace and playful banter.

And tragically, the pace did get hampered by the plot. And for all its “complexities”; the story was far too predictable. Typical guff involving Nazis and the Cold War. Go, figure! It killed a lot of the fun and momentum that had kept me entertained for 60-odd minutes. The inevitable double bluffing and backstabbing between the team got a little long at the tooth for me.

Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager) was wasted as the femme fatale Victoria Vinciguerra. She did her best with the role but was left in the background far too much. Only coming back for the frantic finale.

The same can be said for Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral). God, he’s looking old. He wasn’t in it enough. His renowned bumbling and quick witted exchanges a welcome return; “For a special agent, you’re not having a particularly special day, are you?”.

The finale brought everything back into play and made up for a stumbling middle act with a mad dash explosive climax and (Hardly a spoiler!) it left things open for another. One sequel I would look forward to watching.

If Ritchie and co can just trim the length, get a better baddie then we’ll be good to go. BUT this is still worth a watch if you’re in for the mood for a cool spy caper with a great cast.

3/5

THE HARRY HILL MOVIE

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Was it any good? There’s only one way to find out? FIGHT . . . I mean, review.

What the hell did I just watch?!

Now for those familiar with the award winning TV Burp, I’m sure you can imagine what to expect. BUT even that wouldn’t live up to your expectations. It is ridiculously stupid, bizarre, random and unfortunately, for most of it, unfunny.

Another one to add to the pile of poor TV to film adaptations. There seems to be somewhat of a curse with this transition. The Inbetweeners and Kevin and Perry Go Large being the exceptions.

A little harsh and to its defense, its NOT a complete dud, contrary to reviews I’ve read. When it’s funny, it nails it. And I had the odd chuckle. The opening act didn’t give me much hope with a drawn out and highly unfunny mobile scooter race.  BUT luckily there was the odd moment to reprieve itself.

So what’s it about? Harry’s pet hamster Abu (voiced by none other than Johnny Vegas. Brilliant!) only has a week to live. So Harry and his nan, played by the legendary actress that is Julie Walters plan to give him the best week of his life by taking him to . . . Blackpool on one of the most trippy and mental road trips I’ve imagined.

However, all is not what it seems, as Hill’s evil twin, Otto (played by Matt Lucas) has an evil plan at foot.

Silly and just plain daft. BUT there were moments where you just couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer energy and randomness of Hill’s surreal sequences. From the simple task of Harry getting an egg from the chicken coop, it soon becomes a military assault with armed chickens blowing up the back garden?! And Mr. Hill screaming, “I’m henned in”.

What surprised me about this film was the sheer number of cameos from a great supporting British cast. Simon Bird (Will from the Inbetweeners) played the dimwitted henchman with aplomb. His creepy Justin Bieber disguise still haunting my thoughts.

I can’t believe Julie Walters did this. It was great to see her having fun but I can’t help but feel that this was a step down. And Jim Broadbent?! Playing a cross dressing cleaner in a nuclear power station? Great to see him but I just wish he featured in a better scene. Or a funnier one for that matter.

Matt Lucas was wasted as Otto. Apart from his hilarious back story about being raised by a pack of wild Alsatians on the M6, he failed to make a real impression.

The Magic Numbers Bed and Breakfast hotel was fantastic. I couldn’t believe that the Magic Numbers, one of my favourite bands, was in this! And a surprise car wash sing song with Shingai Shoniwa, lead singer of the Noisettes, was a treat.

For every miss, there is a hit BUT it appears that Hill and the crew soon milk that winning cow until the udders are dry. The angry white van man voice on a Sat Nav was a good joke – “Oi turn left, you toilet!” BUT switching it to Sheila mode, the angry van man’s wife. Yeah, not so much.

A drawn out skit with the ancient race of Shell people and Barney Cull (Nope, can’t fight it, BELLY LAUGH!) who are rioting against the merchandise stores for stealing their children featuring the likes of The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt and the lovely Sheridan Smith was so-so at best.

BUT the song and dance numbers don’t do anything to hide how dreadful this mad escapade was. Walters burping, rapping and spitting out fire? No, no, no. The Dachshund 5 tribute act with their wearing little afros? Irritatingly adorable!

The film didn’t really have a plot or story. It was trippy as hell and nothing really made sense. In a way it reminded me of the old 60s Swinging London British movies that Richard Lester produced. Just watch out for the Brain people and you’ll know what I mean.

If you’re a fan of HH, it’s surreal randomness can be hit and miss compared to the brilliant TV Burp. It’s mental and strangely watchable BUT for all the wrong reasons. I felt like I had been on a bad trip. Bring back the Burp Harry 😦

2/5