Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2, Episode 32: Rocky Just Wants to Have Fun

Last time we left the Power Rangers, Bulk and Skull had figured out who they were!  But they forgot quickly after, because of an accident that happened when they saved the Power Rangers from a monster.  Why did Bulk and Skull save the Power Rangers?  Well, the monster erased the Power Rangers’ memories, and Bulk and Skull were the only people left to execute the Power Rangers’ plans.  It was a big episode for Bulk and Skull.  It helped put them in a better light for the second time in the past handful of episodes.

Now we’re onto an episode about Rocky.  He’s the least fleshed out of the new characters and it’ll be nice to get a little bit of insight into what makes him Rocky.  We know that Adam has some confidence issues, and we know Aisha’s personality.  Rocky is sort of a blank slate.  This episode should change that and give him something that the audience can latch onto.  We’ll get that and more in…

Season 2, Episode 32: Rocky Just Wants to Have Fun
Rocky and Billy were in the Angel Grove Youth Centre studying advanced math.  Ernie unveiled his newest purchase.  It was a pachinko machine.  He let Rocky try it.  Rocky thought it was a lot of fun.

Lord Zedd took that as inspiration for his two step evil plan.  The first part was to cast a spell on Rocky that would make him only want to have fun.  He would ignore anything that wasn’t fun.  It took him out of the Power Rangers team.  The other part of the plan was to turn the pachinko machine into a monster called Pachinko Head.

The Power Rangers met Pachinko Head in the park after fighting putties on a playground.  It was a lackluster playground fight.  While they attempted to smack talk the monster, Rocky ran back and forth like a goof.  He didn’t want to fight.  He just wanted to have fun.  The monster quickly turned everyone, except Tommy, into pachinko balls.

The big fight at the end started with Tommy on his own with the White Tigerzord as Alpha-5 attempted to turn the rest of the Power Rangers back into teens.  Rocky was the first one saved, with the fun spell broken.  He got his Red Dragon Thunderzord and headed into battle.  When the rest of the Power Rangers were saved, they joined him.  The Megazord was able to quickly kill Pachinko Head.  Then came the next phase of the attack as Serpentera showed up, only to lose its power and leave.

Bulk and Skull spent the whole episode thinking that Ernie was a Power Ranger.  Skull had done some research and figured out that every time the Power Rangers were saving the world, Ernie had the day off.  They stalked him, only to find out that while they were watching him, the Power Rangers saved the world again.

Technically, this episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a Rocky episode.  The difference between this one and the two Adam episodes is that this one didn’t give any new insight into Rocky.  It didn’t show us a new side of Rocky.  He was under a spell cast by Lord Zedd that made him want to have fun.  That isn’t Rocky’s normal personality.  He’s usually there to get the job done, regardless of how fun it is.  This episode could be seen as an anti-Rocky episode since it goes against everything that has been established for the character.

Bulk and Skull, meanwhile, had one of their better storylines.  The show has been taking the time to work on how they write these two characters.  They’re still the bumbling comic relief, but there has been more care put into the two characters to give them depth.  This episode had them do their typical bumbling thing.  Yet, it showed the pair as slightly more intelligent than they have come to be known.  There was an actual reason behind their plan.  Instead of some crazy contraption that would direct them to the Power Rangers, Skull had done homework.  He had researched the past Power Rangers events to figure out where to look for the Power Rangers.  This storyline wasn’t an afterthought.  There was thought to it, both on the part of the writers and the part of the characters.  It was a nice new layer to Bulk and Skull that the series should keep up.

That does it for this episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Another monster has been defeated.  Lord Zedd will have to regroup his forces and try again.  Perhaps he’ll try in a movie kind of setting.  The episode title Lights, Camera, Action sure makes it seem that way.  We’ll find out next time.  See you then.

First Time Watches: December 2016

It’s a new year.  With a new year, I have to put all of my first time watches behind me.  There were a lot of movies that I saw for the first time throughout 2016 and some that I would rather forget and never think about again.  It wasn’t a great year for my first time watches.  December didn’t help.  I ended on a fairly low note, and you’ll see why as I go through the movies in this, the December post.

All in all, I got a good number of first time watches in during December.  School let out about halfway through the month, then I had a week off from work.  It was free time where I could get some movie watching in.  In total, there were fifteen first time watches in December.  There was a man in a violent place, a rebellion in a faraway galaxy, and a superhero elf.  Hulk Hogan brought Christmas joy and some people were invited to a suspicious dinner.  Those were only a few things I saw.

The problem was that there was a lack of movies that I enjoyed to a large degree.  There were a few mid-level movies in there, one or two that I highly enjoyed, and the rest were some of the worst I saw all year.  That’s right, December was a month where I disliked more movies than I liked.  That’s a tough thing for me.  I’m forgiving of a lot of things when it comes to movies.  How did it end up this way?  Dumb luck, I think.  Let’s get to the movies and I’ll tell you what I thought.

Santa with Muscles
I’ve slowly been working my way through the Hulk Hogan movies of the 1990s.  This one had him taking on the role of Santa for a group of orphans.  Though the cast was solid, with people like Ed Begley Jr., Garrett Morris, Don Stark, and Mila Kunis, the movie ended up being anything but good.  The entire plot was based around the main character forgetting his identity.  When he got his memories back, he still forgot a critical moment in his childhood that was the whole reason for the story.  On top of that, the jokes were bad.  It was an all-around terrible movie, and one that shouldn’t be sought out for the holidays.

Saving Christmas
Continuing the bad Christmas movies was this feature from Kirk Cameron.  It was less about celebrating the holiday spirit and more about forcing religious beliefs on people.  Three religious stories were told in order to get someone to let the lord into his life.  None of the guy’s doubts were answered.  Kirk Cameron just used the doubts as a launch pad to say how great Christianity was.  There was also a dance scene that didn’t fit with anything and felt wholly unearned.  The thing is, as much as I didn’t like the movie and I don’t like people forcing their religion onto people, there’s something about how Kirk Cameron talks that could make me listen to him for a long time.  Maybe he should turn to a career in audiobooks.  We don’t need him telling any more people that Christmas trees represent the cross and that Jesus is still alive.

In a Valley of Violence
Without giving too much away, I want to say it has the same story as a popular Keanu Reeves movie from a couple years ago.  The only difference is that it is set in the Wild West instead of modern New York City.  I enjoyed Ti West’s foray into the western genre.  It felt like what I expected a Ti Western to feel like.  It had some comedy mixed in with the western action.  Perhaps the best thing is that it had John Travolta’s best role I’ve seen him in recently.  He’s not the big star that he used to be.  It also had a good performance by Ethan Hawke in one of the two 2016 westerns he was in.  He might have been better in the other one, but this was still a good turn.

The Wailing
There are parts of The Wailing that I love.  The second half is one of the best horror films of 2016, maybe even one of the better horror films of the decade.  The problem is what came before it.  There was a mixture of comedy and horror that didn’t quite work in the first half.  I like comedy horror but it takes a careful hand for it to work.  The comedy and horror elements need to blend well.  The horrific murders and the bumbling police officer stuff didn’t blend well.  Once the bumbling stuff was taken out, the movie got a million times better.  I wish it hadn’t been in there at all.  This could have been one of my favourite movies if it hadn’t been for that stuff.

Christmas was relentless this year.  Perhaps that’s my fault.  This is the third Christmas movie I’ve mentioned, and the third that I had scheduled for my Sunday “Bad” Movies blog.  I didn’t enjoy any of the three movies.  Elf-Man starred Wee Man, which is the sole reason that I gave it a shot.  He played an elf who helped some kids free their dad from kidnappers and get their dad’s invention back from the same kidnappers.  The two main problems were how cheaply made it was and how nothing made sense.  The lesson that Elf-Man learned at the end was to not be selfish, yet he did everything for the sole purpose of getting himself home.  The invention made no sense either.  It was a chip that could heat a house.  No explanation was given for it. And there was a moment of frightening imagery too, as the bad guys threw some mistletoe on Elf-Man, which was like kryptonite to him.  He was left writhing in pain on the floor until one of the kids saved him.  I don’t get this movie.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The action was fun.  The new characters had interesting looks, though maybe not depth.  The story was one that I wanted to see.  My only real problem was the pacing at the beginning and the end.  The movie started choppily, jumping from one location to another frequently to set up all the characters.  It probably could have been done a little better to feel more fluid.  The same could be said about the ending.  The big action scene spent time cutting to each character, one after another, to give them their big moment.  Instead of playing the story out in a way that felt natural, it was too jumpy as it had to show each character.  That said, the final scene, as rebels were running the plans down the corridors of the ship… That felt like a horror movie and it was spectacular.  More of that in the Star Wars universe please.

Black Legion
Immigration has brought about a mixture of cultures in North America.  As you can see with the rise of Donald Trump to the presidential office, there are still people who have problems with that.  There are people who don’t like the idea of non-Americans coming to America and living life like the rest of the Americans.  I’m not sure why.  Everyone deserves an equal shake until they have proven that they don’t.  Black Legion was made in the 1930s and manages to cover the idea of racism in a successful way.  It follows a man as he joins an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan called the Black Legion.  They make life tough for both immigrant families and the people that try to stop the group.  It leads to violence and emotional troubles for the main characters.  The movie was very effective and still holds up.

The Hatching
Animal attack movies are a dime a dozen now, with the more ridiculous far outweighing the ones that that things seriously.  Sharknado, Sharktopus, and Big Ass Spider! come to mind when I think about the modern wave of animal attack movies.  The Hatching doesn’t go that route and decides to be a more serious attack movie.  A trio of kids stole some alligator eggs, and fifteen years later, the alligators may be attacking people in the nearby town.  There was comedy in the movie, but the situation wasn’t comedic.  It’s refreshing to see a serious animal attack movie, and the twists and turns that it took were entertaining.  The Hatching is not great.  It’s  solid and I would keep on if I found it on TV.

This is the movie that most epitomises the idea of New Year’s.  Most people think of New Year’s as a new start.  Sure, there’s kissing and that stuff.  But most people look at the turn of the year as a time to start doing the things they’ve wanted to.  They want to lose weight?  That’s the time they attempt to start.  They want to change their attitude?  Again, many people start at the New Year’s.  Antisocial took that to the extreme.  A girl ended her relationship, and was pregnant.  She needed to start the new year as a stronger person.  With a zombie apocalypse happening outside of the house she was in, a new world was beginning that would force her to change and be that stronger person overnight.  It was all about being the new person on New Year’s, filtered through a biting horror concept.  It was solid stuff, though not the best movie.

Double Down
Neil Breen movies are something to behold.  They make little to no sense.  They’re drawn out beyond belief.  There are religious aspects, and there is a Neil Breen performance.  He is not a good actor, writer, or director.  Double Down is no different.  It was Neil Breen’s first film, and as such, his character is the best at everything.  He’s a great hacker and biological terrorist who may have the power of miracles.  There were long shots in the desert of Neil Breen just travelling around.  It was garbage and I don’t want to write about it anymore.

Mean Streets
For some reason, I thought that this was Martin Scorsese’s first movie.  I was wrong.  It was his first movie with Robert DeNiro.  Maybe that’s where my confusion came from.  It was still fairly early in Scorsese’s feature career, before his rise to directing stardom.  There was promise shown throughout the movie, with Scorsese tapping into many of the techniques he would use throughout his career.  There was music by The Rolling Stones.  There were long-ish tracking shots.  There were New York street types.  It was the prototype Scorsese and it’s still damn good.  DeNiro shows why he would become a star.  Keitel also gives a great performance.

Remember when Olivia Newton-John was a movie star?  This movie helped end that.  It was a musical about a muse who came down from Mount Olympus to help a painter become the co-owner of a roller skating nightclub.  There were great moments in the movie, such as every time Gene Kelly danced, or the Don Bluth animated sequence, but none of it fit together properly.  The whole ended up being much worse than the individual parts.  I can’t forget to mention that the story was fairly garbage as well.  If you didn’t already notice, it was about roller skating and dancing.  It involved Greek mythology and a record company.  There were so many disconnected story beats that it could never have come together.

Sing Street
Many movies have tried a similar sort of story and failed.  This one succeeded full out.  A kid’s home life is falling apart around him and his crush on a girl he met at school pushes him to be better.  He forms a band to get close to her and they bond over their shared problems.  Perhaps it is because the movie feels more true to reality than others of this type.  Maybe it’s because the music works as well as the story.  For whatever reason, this one is the best I’ve seen of this niche subgenre and I’m glad I watched it.  I’ll be revisiting this in the future.

And now for something much, much worse.  This is one of the worst movies I’ve seen recently, on a technical level.  Every scene… No… Every shot is extended beyond what it needs to be.  The main character will pick up a cigarette, stare at it for ten seconds without the shot cutting, then walk off frame, and there will be five seconds as the shot continues without the subject in it.  The sound editing was just as bad, with a lot of natural background noise.  The characters were in a bar and you could hear everything else going on there.  The main character was in the park and you could hear every bird in the trees.  It was distracting background noise.  The whole movie just needed care and technical knowledge.  It could have been shortened a good ten minutes.  Just cut the excess fat and do some sound work and there would be a better movie.

The Invitation
This one was hanging around for a while on Netflix.  I meant to watch it back in October during Spooky Season (@TheRealMattC), but it zoomed right by me while I was watching other stuff.  Then one of my friends told me that I needed to watch the movie.  It still took until the end of December for me to watch it.  That’s sooner than some movies I’ve been planning on watching.  It was a creepy movie that involved cults and beliefs.  It’s definitely a movie worth watching if you’re a horror fan.  You shouldn’t pass up the chance to see it.

That brings December to a close. The holiday break gave me free time that the second half of my school term hadn’t.  Sadly, many of the movies I saw weren’t that good.  The Christmas movies stunk, as did Double Down and Delusion.  It’s not a month of movie watching that I’m going to remember all that well.  Even with the few highlights, I have no real reason to look back at this month as anything but underwhelming.

Maybe January will bring some better first time viewings.  I’m already halfway through the month and there have been a couple of great movies in Broadcast News and Romancing the Stone.  Hugo wasn’t that bad either.  But there were still some stinkers and those will come up in the next post.  I’ll write about them there and let you know what my problems were.  I’ll also write some good stuff about the good things I see.  Until next month, watch some good movies.  I don’t always do that, so it would be nice for someone to.