Tag Archives: spoiler alert saturday

Spoiler Alert Saturday :: our thoughts on Atomic Blonde

12 Aug

Damn, guys. I’m sorry. It’s been incredibly busy lately, and I’m just going to leave it that and move along.

Now, if you’re here you probably know all the reasons you might not like this movie. All of those are valid. But we went anyway, because we wanted to watch Charlize Theron kill guys. And of course, that’s the #1 reason that you could, in fact, like this movie. Here’s five others.

  1. The aesthetic. It’s a comic book movie (though a lesser-known comic, one I’d not heard of) and that’s pretty clear from a lot of the visual layout. The hotel room in particular is a total illustration.
  2. Charlize’s character Lorraine also has an incredibly satisfyingly cohesive and interesting wardrobe that has its themes (black and white and maybe red) without being too reliant on the 80s setting.
  3. There is a very good amount of girlkissing. Yes, this doesn’t end well. No, we’re not excusing that, and yes, we look forward to a movie where Sofia Boutella gets to be happy without being painted to look like a space alien. But there’s girlkissing (and girlsex!) that didn’t feel entirely male-gazey. They’re actually cute and converse and cuddle.
  4. Bad things happen to the men that deserve it. Pretty much all of them.
  5. Bill Skarsgard’s Merkel was oddly charming, and I’m not just saying that out of Skarsgard bias, because I didn’t actually connect the dots of who he was until the end. I just liked the character.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Spoiler Alert Sunday :: our thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming

9 Jul

I myself do not have particularly deep feelings about Spider-Man. I have enjoyed or not enjoyed the previous films to about the degree that most people have. I, on the other hand, have EVERY feeling about Spider-Man because watching the first Sam Raimi movie in high school was my gateway into superhero stuff (unless you count The Incredibles and I don’t since it’s not a comic book property). I’ve seen at least a little bit of pretty much every Spider-Man adaptation, including a really bad animated one that aired on MTV and had Neil Patrick Harris as the voice of Spidey. Yes, this is real. Anyway, my favorite adaptations up to this point were the Ultimate Spider-Man comics and a semi-obscure 2009 animated series called Spectacular Spider-Man. Both of these were attempts to modernize the story and incorporate various elements that weren’t present in the original comics: Ultimate has him working as a web designer (haha yes I know) for the Daily Bugle and he and Mary Jane Watson are high school BFFs, and Spectacular keeps the classic photography job but includes Gwen and Harry as his BFFs. I pretty much judge every adaptation against these two. Homecoming is, I’m happy to say, a very very good Spider-Man adaptation. It’s probably my third-favorite, and that’s mostly because it doesn’t really have Gwen or Mary Jane, who are my two favorite parts of the stories. But it’s still a damn good movie.

The problems with the previous Spider-Man movies is that they have largely not understood two basic, important points of Spider-Man: unlike Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman, Peter Parker and Spider-Man are not separate entities, and the strength of Spider-Man as a character comes from his relationships and interactions with the people around him.

The first two attempts at Spider-Man movies were both deeply flawed adaptations that miss critical parts of the story. The Raimi movies, at least the first two, have pretty good villains: they’re campy, sure, but the charm of Spider-Man is its inherent campiness. The Green Goblin and Doc Ock are given backstories, they’re played by good actors who are having a blast hamming it up, and, in the latter’s case, the film seems to sympathize with him at least to some degree. The problem with these movies is Spider-Man. Not only is Peter far too broody, but so is Spider-Man himself; I can’t recall him cracking a single joke, and the entire point of Spider-Man is that he makes stupid jokes in the middle of fights! It leans way too heavily on Peter’s angst about Uncle Ben and being a good person and forgets to make him funny. The Amazing duology started out pretty decent, with a Spider-Man who makes jokes and a Peter who, while a bit hipstery and smug, at least knew how to smile. The problem with that first movie is that the Lizard is a half-formed idea of a villain that doesn’t make any sense and his plan is total bullshit. (There is actually a short arc in the Spectacular animated series that uses the Lizard – it’s really well-done and makes way more sense, so I’m not saying that the Lizard as a character is inherently unadaptable.) The less said about Amazing 2, the better. The great thing about Homecoming is that it understands that a good Spider-Man story needs both a quippy, likeable Spider-Man and a bombastic villain. Tom Holland is charming and believable as a kid who’s pretty much in over his head, but who just wants to help people and use his powers to do awesome things. They added in a short montage of him doing dumb little heroic things like giving an old lady directions and stopping a bike thief, which is important because Spider-Man is supposed to be a hero for the little guy first and foremost. Michael Keaton as the Vulture is legitimately menacing and also chews the scenery all over the place. They’ve written this version of the character as a blue-collar worker who stumbles into alien technology after the Chitauri incident and, along with some of his colleagues, decides to use it to build himself some weapons to rob banks and commit other crimes. There’s also a spoiler about his character which I won’t mention, but it was a pretty good touch and I felt silly for not guessing it.

The previous movies also leaned far too heavily on his relationships with his love interests, to the detriment of his relationships with Uncle Ben, Aunt May, or literally any other people. The first Amazing movie at least had the decency to give Gwen sort of a character arc, motivation, and a hero moment outside of Peter, but still, it was largely about Peter’s love life. In the best versions of the story, Peter has friends and loved ones. The conflict comes from his wanting to protect them from the villains who are trying to hurt him while still trying to show them how much he cares. This new movie gives him a best friend in Ned (Jacob Batalon), a fellow nerd who he builds the Death Star Lego set with and who is the first person to learn his secret. It also doesn’t forget that Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is an essential part of Peter’s life, and while she’s not in a lot of scenes, she’s in enough to give the viewer a real sense of how much she and Peter love and support each other. Zendaya is also here as a girl who mostly exists on the fringes of the story, mostly to provide snarky commentary. She’s basically Marvel’s cop-out because her name is “Michelle” but at the end she says “my friends call me MJ.” I guess maybe they thought nobody in 2017 would be named Mary Jane? I expected to be a lot angrier about this than I actually am, and it’s probably because Zendaya is a scene stealer and I’m just happy to have her here at all.

There is a romance subplot in this story – they’ve borrowed one of Peter’s second string short-term girlfriends, Liz Allan (Laura Harrier), who is introduced as the ideal girl that nerdy Peter doesn’t have a chance with. I was worried about how they would handle this, especially after the Raimi movies where poor MJ is basically reduced to a pretty idea of a character and nothing else, but Liz is a character with her own personality and ambitions. Not only that, but she’s captain of the school’s academic decathlon team rather than being a cheerleader. She and Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) are both members, which is a fun update to the classic story where Flash is the quarterback and Liz is his arm candy. But back to Liz; after her initial introduction, her screentime is meant to remind you that she is a person just like Peter is, and Peter’s feelings do not make her into some unattainable goddess. I doubt she’ll be back in the next movie, but I was satisfied with her treatment in this one.

This is not a perfect movie, however. The single greatest flaw in this movie is that Marvel apparently has some kind of Stark quota now, where Tony has to be in X amount of screentime in every movie that he can possibly be squeezed into. I have pretty well run out of patience with Tony Stark (and I am, particularly after our Fourth of July Captain America movie marathon, eager to see Tony destroyed elaborately – more on this in a second), and in this movie he is trying and failing to be a parental figure to a kid who is a thousand times kinder and better than he is. I still haven’t forgiven Tony for recruiting a fifteen-year-old child into a superhero battle where he had no business being. He did his best to rub it in in this movie, too, lecturing Peter on his behavior while conveniently side-stepping the point that if it wasn’t for him, none of the stuff with Vulture would have happened. He’s in something like twenty minutes of the movie, all told, but it’s twenty minutes too long. Because here’s the thing. The Sokovia Accords were bullshit. I have only seen Civil War a handful of times but every time I do I get even angrier about the Sokovia Accords (which seem increasingly more pointed and directed less at the problem and more at the convenient scapegoat of, as I said on Twitter during aforementioned Fourth of July rewatch, a magical [Roma-Jewish] refugee girl – but Kermit meme). But considering that Tony was the biggest advocate of the Accords, and that he literally endangered Peter’s life in their name, the fact remains that this movie could have been called Spider-Man Comes Home To Violate The Sokovia Accords. They’re bullshit, but the fact that Tony went out of his way to institute legislation insisting that all superheroes (not just the Avengers proper, all superheroes or even just enhanced people, as seen repeatedly in SHIELD) be monitored by a governing body and then said “but hey, kid, you just go be neighborhood Spider-Man, you do you” is also bullshit. I don’t want harm to befall Peter. Peter’s just trying his best. But Tony Stark plays favorites and only remembers things when it’s convenient; even when he’s mad at Peter he doesn’t so much as mention the Accords or the fact that not only is Spider-Man violating them but that by the end of this particular film he’s likely responsible for at least as much property damage, if not incidental civilian injury and loss of life, as (for example) Scarlet Witch in Lagos. (We didn’t hear about any of the loss of life, but – you guys. At one point Spider-Man is on an airplane that flew by and sliced the top off of the Coney Island Parachute Jump. That ride isn’t operational; it’s, according to Wikipedia, “250 feet (76 m) tall and weighing 170 tons (150 tonnes).” Based on approximations of when their Homecoming dance was [likely a Saturday evening in September] there’s literally no way that when the top came off of it didn’t fall on people, possibly at least twelve. I’m not blaming Peter for these people being injured or killed. But but Kermit meme.)

My other biggest complaint is that the AI in the suit that Tony gave Peter apparently didn’t have a name, which is ridiculous because Tony names everything, and then when Peter names it the name he picks is Karen. The problem with this is that there’s already a pretty prominent Karen in the MCU: Karen Page. Marvel has a real problem with repeating names anyway (James “Bucky” Barnes/James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Hope Van Dyne/Hope Shlottman/Hope Mackenzie, Peter Parker/Peter Quill/Pietro Maximoff, Robert Gonzales/Roberto “Robbie” Reyes, etc.) and this is just another piece of evidence that someone needs to get them a baby name book. Bucky and Rhodey can’t be changed at this point, but “Karen” isn’t even really a mythology gag. The only Karen in the Spider-mythos is from the 1999 animated series Spider-Man Unlimited, which is so obscure that even I hadn’t heard of it until yesterday, and if we wanted a mythology gag, why not “Gwen” or “Glory” or “Carlie” or even “Felicia”? Or his mother’s name, Mary? It’s just frustrating to see them reusing names that aren’t even particularly common ones.

Overall, though, this is the single best Spider-Man movie to date and a great addition to the MCU. I would say it’s one of the more joyful superhero movies that I’ve seen in the last few years. I’m very happy with it. And though my strongest feelings were overly elaborate rage-induced calculations based on how terrible Tony Stark is, I very much enjoyed it as well.

–your fangirl heroines.

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Spoiler Alert Saturday :: our thoughts on Wonder Woman

3 Jun

DC finally did a good. A really good. A spectacularly good. A so damn good we don’t actually want to spoil any specific details for you so you can experience them on your own because it’s so worth doing that.

We are not disappointed. We are thrilled.

(Also, our entire theater lost it at both the 47 Meters Down trailer and a certain pithy declaration made by Diana [Gal Gadot]. We won’t spoil it for you but it’s perfect.)

–your fangirl heroines.

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Spoiler Alert Sunday :: our thoughts on The Fate of the Furious

16 Apr

All y’all know Furious 7 was my first watched of the franchise, and this eighth installment was drift partner’s first. But when we saw a trailer that included Charlize Theron dramatically intoning “There’s thousands of cars in this city and now they’re all mine” we knew we had to go. Opening weekend. To a theater where we could purchase alcohol to consume while we were watching.

And boy howdy, were we not disappointed. This movie, like its predecessor(s?), is incredibly stupid but in the most delicious way. I was trying to give drift partner what little background I could beforehand and the best I could do was a couple of anecdotes and character facts followed by “they’re like the Suicide Squad but of cars.” And, obviously, much better than the actual cinematic Suicide Squad.

I, drift partner, had sort of idly been intending to see these movies based on recommendations from friends, but this trailer dangled the idea of crazy Charlize AND ridiculous car chases in front of me and I am powerless when presented with crazy Charlize. I will watch crazy Charlize Theron do basically anything. I knew I was in for a treat when the first scene of this movie involved Vin Diesel stripping off the doors and trunk of a VW Bug in order to soup up the engine for a race, in such a way that it made it literally LIGHT ON FIRE at one point. I am not a car person, I have no idea what he did, but it was glorious. And then when he won the race, his opponent tried to give Vin Diesel his car, as per their agreement, and said Vin had his respect. Vin Diesel said, “Keep your car. Your respect is good enough for me.” It was so ridiculous and batshit and I loved it. I don’t think I stopped smiling for longer than about two minutes.

Here’s the thing that we’ve come to realize, that has doubtless been realized by many before us. In effect, these movies are the goofy action stupidity with a heart of gold. As they said probably no less than one hundred times, they’re about family. (The trailer alone says this word enough that if you were doing strong enough shots every time they said it – which we intend to do sometime with all of the movies, although with sips rather than shots – you could be blitzed by its conclusion.) It’s this big, ridiculous found family full of characters capable of kicking anyone’s ass any day who all work together out of their continued love for each other. Never mind that most of them have criminal pasts while Hobbs (The Rock) is FBI and Brian (Paul Walker), who obviously isn’t in this film although they didn’t kill him off they just said “we can’t bring Brian into this we promised we wouldn’t” and left it at that, has been an undercover agent as well. Never mind their different backgrounds, or the fact that Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) isn’t even a car person but a hacker, or anything. They’re family. That’s all there is to it.

Naturally this means that the conflict of the film is a question of that. Charlize Theron’s Cipher, a hacker thought to be, even by Ramsey, a conglomerate, blackmails Vin Diesel’s Dom to work for her. Why? Well, this is kind of revealed, sort of, eventually, in a casual recontextualizing of past movie plot points. He upsets his family by doing this, which Hobbs describes very gravely as him having “gone rogue,” and they spend the rest of the movie working against Cipher’s evil plan while also sort of trying to get Dom back to the side of good.

There are a lot of perfectly golden moments in this movie, but some just have to be seen to be believed. Some we feel comfortable alluding to are:

  • Somebody is shielded from an enormous explosion by a protective circle of cars.
  • At one point, a car is drawn and quartered.
  • As if in answer to the cars coming out of the moving airplane in the last film, a car goes into a moving airplane.
  • Helen Mirren is Jason Statham’s mother.
  • Ramsey spends virtually all of her non-hacking/non-plot-forwarding time rolling her eyes at machismo bullshit and/or flirtatious comeons. Also, she wears a vest.
  • Jason Statham plays the Chipmunks Christmas album for a baby to drown out the noise of him fighting bad guys.
  • Hobbs’ daughter’s soccer team, which he coaches, performs the haka before their game.
  • Someone drives a tank. Literally a tank.
  • Someone uses a car door as a shield and a sled, at different points.
  • Someone jumps over a submarine in a car. Yes, a submarine.
  • The Rock weightlifts a concrete bench and uses a concrete wall as a punching bag.
  • Much like he removed a cast on his arm by flexing his muscles in the last movie, he removes handcuffs the same way in this movie.
  • Charlize Theron speaks entirely in cliches, and makes lines that are not naturally menacing sound vaguely menacing.
  • As seen in the trailer, Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty literally shouts at Dom “are you gonna turn your back on family?” and… then he literally turns his back on his family and exits.

Drift partner just classified this franchise as “chaotic good.” Yes, exactly.

–your fangirl heroine.

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Spoiler Alert Sunday :: our thoughts on Get Out

2 Apr

Disclaimer: neither of us are black, though one of us is white-passing biracial (Chinese/white), so whatever we have to say about the film will be filtered through a non-black lens, and should not be taken with the same gravity as what black reviewers and audiences have said.

So, I (drift partner) am biracial, much like director/writer Jordan Peele, though since I’m extremely light-skinned and white-passing my experiences with racism and whiteness have been completely difference than Peele’s. While people frequently erase Peele’s experiences having grown up with a white mother, I have had people say to my face that I can’t be Chinese. I’ve had people express disbelief that my Chinese father is related to me, my identity has been used as an excuse to tell racist jokes, and been tasked to explain why the slur “Ch*naman” is racist. I look white, but I’m not. And I’m sure I haven’t experienced half of the racism and microaggressions that Peele has as a black man in the US.

Get Out is a horror/comedy, but most of the comedy is probably going to be lost on white audiences, because the jokes are Peele’s nods to the experiences he and other black people face when (sometimes) well-meaning white people try to engage with them. “You know, I would’ve voted for Obama for a third term.” “I know Tiger Woods. Let’s see your golf stance!” “If you worked out, you’d be a beast!” I lost count of the microaggressions in this film, the little things the white characters said or did that communicated to Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) that they definitely saw him as Other. The audience in our screening didn’t seem to be laughing that much, but I was, because I recognized most of these jokes. They’re not really for the white audience members at all – they’re for the black viewers, who have probably had similar experiences and will laugh and nod knowingly and whisper “white people.”

That being said, this movie also doesn’t pull its punches – it’s got a lot of tension that builds from the very first scene, and really knows how to use simple things like a plush lion or a spoon rubbing on the inside of a teacup to unsettle you. I was spoiled for most of the movie going in, but even I didn’t quite guess the final twist, and it’s over-the-top and horrifying in the best way. From the beginning you know something weird is going on, but you’re not sure how deep it goes, and you’ll want to keep watching to find out. I’m sort of a wuss when it comes to horror movies, but I like them like this: creepy and unsettling with lots of moments that give you chills, but not unnecessarily gory, and with explanations for why everything is happening. Every actor is giving perfect performances that are unsettling without tipping over into parody levels – Bradley Whitford has never been scarier to me, and Allison Williams finally seems to have found a job that lets her truly (unnervingly) shine. Daniel Kaluuya is also brilliant and likable and I was rooting for him every step of the way; he’s supposed to be in Black Panther, which thrills me. It’s a real pity that horror movies tend to get passed over by the major awards, because if any genre film ever had performances that merited consideration, it’s this one.

As of today, Get Out has passed The Blair Witch Project as the highest-grossing original screenplay in history. I can’t think of a film that’s more deserving, and I’m so glad it’s managed to get the audience it has. Please do yourself a favor and watch it (just be aware, if you’re white, that it’s laughing at you, not with you).

–your fangirl heroines.

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Spoiler Alert Sunday :: her thoughts on Personal Shopper

27 Mar

(We both saw this one. Her feelings are just more coherent.)

I (drift partner) can’t objectively review this movie because Kristen Stewart is near and dear to my heart and I love her and I will watch her in literally anything, except that Woody Allen movie because fuck that guy. I have gotten into fights with good friends because they said Kristen’s acting sucks (don’t worry, we’re still friends). I have a shortlist of movies to shove at people who claim she never emotes in movies (Clouds of Sils Maria, The Runaways and American Ultra). I went to a midnight screening of Snow White and the Huntsman. I adore her and I have for years.

The thing is, she’s made a lot of movies with people who just don’t get her. She’s not a bad actress, but she is subtle, and that’s not always something that directors know how to work with. Snow White is actually a really good example here – that movie’s not great, and people have complained that she’s too stoic in it. I don’t think she is at all, but I do think that she’s excellent at microexpressions and that her performances are atypical for most Hollywood actresses. Olivier Assayas gets her. He directed her in Clouds of Sils Maria in 2014, a drama for which she won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress. And then they teamed up again for Personal Shopper, which is a psychological horror/drama. Personally, I think she should just keep making movies with this guy, sort of like Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell (except Russell and Lawrence aren’t as good a team as people seem to think they are, in my opinion). I’ll go see every single one of them.

Personal Shopper is not as coherent or as good as Clouds, but you can tell that it was made by the same person. Parts of it have a very similar almost dreamlike feel to them, and there are similar themes (death and what to do after a loved one dies, dissatisfaction with one’s life, risk-taking and fear of change). The film centers around Maureen (Kristen Stewart), who is reeling from the recent sudden death of her twin brother Lewis. She takes a job in Paris, where he lived, working as a personal shopper for a model and attempting to contact his spirit. He was a medium, and she is too, albeit slightly less naturally gifted than him. They swore that whichever of them died would send the other a sign from the afterlife, so she’s spent several months waiting for that sign.

I think the main problem with this movie is that the tone switches are pretty jarring. The quiet dramatic scenes where she talks with others about her brother and her life are intimate and well-acted, if sometimes a bit redundant. The scenes where she texts back and forth with a mysterious unknown number are the most unnerving parts of the movie, while the single scene with an onscreen ghost is more goofy than actually frightening. (The CGI ghost is really iffy, but I imagine the relatively small budget made it impossible to get it any better and I have seen worse.) I think the movie works a lot better when it’s not actively admitting to the existence of ghosts or spirits, and I would’ve preferred a more concrete answer about whether or not ghosts actually exist. About two-thirds of the way through there’s a grisly murder scene that’s potentially implied to have been caused by Maureen’s mysterious texting stalker, and though we are given an explanation for that murder, we aren’t quite told whether the murderer and the stalker are one and the same. There are two or three confusing scenes that have Maureen (and no one else) observing paranormal activity, but then out of left field comes a shot of nobody coming out of a hotel elevator, nobody opening the automatic lobby door, and nobody leaving the hotel and going outside. Immediately after those shots are identical shots with the murderer. I still have no idea if the film was meant to be implying that the ghosts were all in Maureen’s head, or if they were real and the ghost called the police to arrest the murderer, or what. It is the first time that we, the audience, see paranormal activity not linked to Maureen’s presence. I’m not sure what to make of that.

But also, as I said, it’s impossible for me to be objective about this movie because I love Kristen Stewart and French directing apparently really agrees with her acting skills. She’s incredible in this film: her microexpressions are on full display, and when she does need to show emotion she brings a rawness to it that I think surpasses any of the other performances of hers I’ve seen. The camera also loves her – there are long, lingering shots of her face and body, but which never feel exploitative. Actually, considering there are multiple topless shots and one scene where she masturbates, this movie is surprisingly free of the male gaze or of exploitation. These scenes, which in another movie could have felt egregious, are matter-of-fact and, in the case of the masturbation scene, defiant.

It’s a strange little movie, and I see why it’s not going over well with a lot of audiences. But the parts I liked outweigh the parts I have issues with, and I’m really glad I got the chance to see it in a theater.

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Spoiler Alert Saturday :: her thoughts on Power Rangers

25 Mar

I didn’t grow up with Power Rangers at all. My mom thought it was too violent for my brother to watch (I know), and I didn’t really care. But one of my best friends did, and she’s had me watch enough of both the original Mighty Morphin’ series and the various other incarnations that I get the idea. (The best/most hilarious is Jungle Fury.) I mostly came into this movie with the same ironic glee that I watched the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or GI Joe: Retaliation; I hoped it might be at least hilarious even it it was a bad movie and shat on somebody’s childhood. (Both of those movies are actually fine, though I watched them while drinking so it’s possible my judgment cannot be trusted.)

If you go in expecting a goofy teenage superhero flick, you’ll probably have a good time. My friend says they threw in a ton of references to the original series, though they have changed some things here and there (I’ll mention that in the spoiler section). My friend who grew up with the series was delighted with the references and didn’t mind the changes too much. I’m sure some of the hardcore fans will be displeased with them, but I think there’s enough there specifically for the fans to avoid Transformers syndrome. I think if you’re at all intrigued, it’s a fun popcorn flick. You should know, though, that the first car chase (after the cow scene) is shot in the weirdest way possible: there’s a few 360 camera rotation shots that made me and my friend dizzy and gave us mild motion sickness. This only lasts a minute or two, so if you don’t look at the screen it should be fine, but I imagine it’d be worse for someone who’s prone to motion sickness in the theater.

Also, they really pushed Trini/Yellow (Becky G) being a lesbian in the press, but the scene where they talk about it is weirdly vague? Like, I’ve worked with less but I wish that instead of dancing around it (one of them asks her “boyfriend troubles? …girlfriend troubles?” and she says something about not wanting to tell her parents “who I really am”) they would’ve just come out and said “lesbian.” Alas for studio pussyfooting, I guess. On a brighter note, Billy/Blue (RJ Cyler) is explicitly autistic, and they do work it into his character, and not in an overly stereotypical way. His special interest seems to be tinkering with and building things, as well as mapping and exploring the local mountain and quarries. He sets his colored pencils down in a particular order and corrects them if they are moved. He has trouble with sarcasm and is careful not to swear (except in one weird slip-up where he says “that was a weird-ass hologram”). He dislikes being touched and will politely ask people to stop if they touch him. He infodumps, but will stop and apologize if someone tells him to. I’m not 100% sure how to feel about a weird point where someone says he’s “pure of heart” but I do like that his autistic traits aren’t just brought up once and forgotten, but made part of his character. He’s also black, which I feel is an important detail to note because the overwhelming majority of autistic characters in the media are white boys and men. Autism is diagnosed most frequently in white boys, but autistic people can be any gender or race, and I really appreciated this movie’s choice to include a black autistic character. There could have been some other traits (I would’ve loved to have seen him stimming, for example), but this is still a really wonderful milestone.

Oh, and there’s an after-credits scene, though it won’t mean much to anybody who isn’t familiar with the original series. My friend lost her shit, though, she was so happy.

SPOILERS:

  • My friend got spoiled the night before, and she semi-spoiled me this morning before we went, but I’m actually glad that happened so I was prepared. What she heard was “one of the Rangers dies,” and I wasn’t actively thinking about it during the movie, but it hung around in the back of my mind. So what actually happens is that Rita (Elizabeth Banks) visits Trini about three-quarters through to try to convince her to tell her where the McGuffin is, and when Trini refuses, Rita tells her to tell the others to meet her at the docks the next day for a showdown. They do, and she pretty much immediately wipes them out because none of them have been able to morph into their suits yet. She ties them up and threatens the others if Billy doesn’t tell him where the McGuffin is hidden, and Billy panics and tells her so she won’t hurt his friends. Then she’s like “lol I better just kill one of you anyway” and throws him into the water, then electrocutes the wires binding him, because I guess this movie needed some horrifying implications on top of everything else. I sat there horrified for ten minutes until an earlier plot thread came back and magically resurrected Billy (look, honestly, if you’ve gotten this far into the movie and this is what bothers you, you probably shouldn’t be here, sorry). But, like, I was so afraid for about ten minutes that I was seriously going to have to hate this movie forever, because I would have if it had killed the black autistic character. But nope, he’s fine. False alarm!
  • I think probably this movie had about eight drafts where some of the plot threads were better resolved, and I kind of want to read those earlier drafts. Kimberly/Pink (Naomi Scott) has a weird ~secret~ that keeps being brought up and is the reason her old friends ostracized her, and I was so scared it was going to be sexual assault-y, but no, it wasn’t quite that, it was a weird revenge porn subplot that in my opinion served zero purpose and was pretty dumb. Zordon (Bryan Cranston) had a weird motivation: his consciousness had been uploaded into the ship’s matrix when he and his original Ranger team died millions of years before, and he wanted to be able to return to his body. He would only be able to do that when the morphing grid opened and all five Rangers had morphed. I thought this was going to lead into questions about whether Zordon was actually an antagonist, or at least have him lean into the self-centered mentor working for his own motivations thing – but that doesn’t really go anywhere and he ends up not using the morphing grid to bring himself back, instead revitalizing Billy. I feel like that emotional note was a little flat, all things considered. Jason/Red (Dacre Montgomery) sort of had an emotional arc about returning to his former glory and making his dad proud after fucking up royally at a football game, but they kept dropping that plot thread and then picking it up again and there wasn’t a ton of consistency to it. Anyway, I liked all the leads except Jason, who was boring, but I wish there had been a little more so some of their arcs.
  • I’ve been making fun of the new suits and how they have boob cups on them, and in the movie they’re actually kind of part of their bodies. They’re sort of like an exoskeleton and they just kind of grow over their skin when they morph. So, okay, fine. It’s stupid, but I’ll allow it.
  • Zack (Ludi Lin) is shown in multiple scenes to speak Mandarin with his ill mother, which I thought was very sweet. He also clearly loves her and is the only person around to take care of her, and I liked that that added some depth to his character, who is mostly just the goofy daredevil type.
  • I think Red/Pink is a foregone conclusion because Jason and Kimberly is such an iconic pairing in the original series, but I really really really think they should go Pink/Yellow. There’s a scene that’s thrown in there where Kim and Trini are at breakfast or something and they start play-fighting over a pastry, and it’s pretty adorable. Kim is also the one who always goes after Trini when she runs off, and they often ended up paired together in fight scenes. There’s as many significant Looks between them as Kim shares with Jason. Again, I’ve done more with less. Put your money where your mouth is and let them kiss in the next movie, Saban.
  • This movie did something I think was kinda cool where it made the legacy of the Rangers more explicit, by opening the movie with Zordon’s team dying alongside Rita millions of years before. Zordon was the original Red Ranger here, and Rita was once the Green Ranger, but was “corrupted” (how? Eh, they don’t say, but I kinda wanna watch that movie). This is sort of a cute little nod to the original show where Rita created the Green Ranger because, uh, reasons (this was explained to me but I don’t go here).
  • That reminds me, I couldn’t tell if it was just my lesbian goggles on but I think they wanted to imply that Rita was an Evil Lesbian? Like, I feel like maybe in another movie they would have had the lady villain trying to seduce one of the boys but directly after the scene where Trini mentions she’s a lesbian, Rita shows up in her bedroom at night and there’s a weirdly sexually charged scene where she threatens her over the McGuffin? I dunno. Elizabeth Banks is sure having a damn fine time though.
  • There’s a scene where she kills a homeless man (in silhouette but still) because of his gold fillings. Yes.
  • The McGuffin is located under a Krispy Kreme, which is honestly one of the best uses of product placement I’ve seen in awhile. IMO, if you’re gonna do it, just go whole hog and lose all subtlety. We also got a hilarious scene of Rita just chilling on a table in there, eating a donut while her monsters wreak havoc outside.
  • Also during one of the training montages they played “Hand Clap” by Fitz and the Tantrums, which is a nonsensical song anyway, and trying to make it make sense for this scene didn’t work at all and was very distracting.
  • Along with the aforementioned 360 shots, the director or cinematographer apparently thought they were making a fucking Oscar contender because every now and then there were weird experimental shots or ways that they set up the shot that left me either scratching my head or laughing. Like, man, don’t get too ambitious. You’re making fucking Power Rangers.
  • There were a random couple of masturbation jokes? Which I laughed at because I am 12. FOR KIDS!
  • OH ALSO THEY PLAY THE ORIGINAL THEME WHILE THEY’RE GOING TO MEET RITA IN THEIR ZORDS AND PEOPLE IN MY THEATER CLAPPED AND CHEERED IT WAS SO GREAT

I hope everybody who is into this movie gets to see it with an audience with happy fans in it like I did because they were just having the best time and cheering at all the goofy fanservice bits. My theater wasn’t super full, but it loved this movie.

a20simpler20time