Around 1996 and in to 1997, the “Power Rangers” pop culture phenomenon had just about died down and Saban entertainment were looking to re-invent the series for a new wave of toy buying tween boys. I was a big “Power Rangers” fan for many years and, like most people my age, I checked out once “Turbo” was introduced. It just felt so tired once they devolved from mystical giant dinosaur robots to… cool cars! Forget a giant dragon that can smash buildings, you have a red car that goes vroom! Of course, I opted out of seeing “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie” for a very long time, and for good reason. “Turbo” is a movie apparently made on half of the budget of the 1995 movie, and with none of the ambition. You can say whatever you want about the “Mighty Morphin” movie, but it was at least ambitious and tried to take the series in to a bigger scope.
If you want to talk about weird team ups of 2017 in comic books, it’s tough to come across any weirder than Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Justice League. It takes a lot of exposition, but the crossover with both teams is entertaining enough in that the writers find a good balance between both properties. The Power Rangers at Boom Studios are now dramatic enough in their own series to work alongside the Justice League, while the Justice League are considered somewhat bright enough to work alongside the Power Rangers. This could be a good platform to mock the Power Rangers and give the Justice League considerable credibility, but thankfully both teams manage to take the piss out of one another quite often.
It’s stunning how subtle and delicate “45 Years” introduces itself, only to end on such a heavy and gut wrenching final scene that leaves you with the weight of questions and uneasy answers. From beginning to end, director Andrew Haigh confronts many of life’s very difficult problems, including how easy it is for a relationship approaching a century, can be dismantled in only a week. Haigh almost seems to count down to the final day where couple Kate and Geoff celebrates their four and a half decades together as a married couple. Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are stellar as a seemingly mundane husband and wife whose life is changed one day with a letter that arrives for Geoff.
Logan, the public’s beloved Wolverine, has aged and isn’t doing so great. As he holds onto life for some reason and is looking for a reason to be. His later life is not filled with action, something he seems to have settled into. That is until a woman comes asking for his help and a chain of events leads to him having to help a young girl in desperate need of guidance and assistance.
Christophe Gans offers up a richly realized and absolutely beautiful vision of “Beauty and the Beast” that embraces the dark side and fantasy of the original story. While yes, Belle begins to fall In love with the Beast, and is even enticed by him, it’s also thanks his aggression and insistence on influencing her Stockholm syndrome. Belle does eventually find the beauty of living with the beast, in that she’s able to roam his massive castle and is capable of finding secrets and fun corners within it. She even plays hide and seek with dog like creatures that find a fascination with Belle. Gans’ direction is superb and absolutely mesmerizing, I can not stress that enough. Many of his wide shots, and pans are magnificent and he knows how to make the beast both enigmatic and terrifying. There’s even a marvelous moment where the Beast is looking out on to an invading army from his perch, resembling Lon Chaney from “Phantom of the Opera.”
Pee-yew! You have to appreciate Shout! Factory for restoring what is easily one of the worst anthology movies of the eighties. I admit to being a completely newcomer in regards to “Deadtime Stories,” and upon finishing it, I was not surprised it was such a rarity for so many years. “Deadtime Stories” watches like someone really loved “Creepshow” and decided to make their own version with only a quarter of the budget. Then mid-way when the studio realized how awful the movie was, they decided to turn it in to a comedy at the last minute so horror fans can convince themselves the whole disaster is intentional and a tongue in cheek jab at the anthology crazy of the decade.
“Logan” is a terrible X-Men movie, but a very good Wolverine movie. I say that because director James Mangold holds about as much contempt for X-Men and its concept as Bryan Singer does. Mangold offers a vision of the team that is none too flattering. Set in an undetermined timeline of the movie series, we’re met with Logan in the distant future where he’s one of the only surviving mutants left on Earth. The dream has died, Professor X is now suffering from a brain disease that has turned him in to a burden, and everything the X-Men strived for has been forgotten and passed off as a joke. Now faced with nothing but a dark ending, he is confronted by a Hispanic woman who pays him to help her. Logan, at the behest of Charles Xavier, is tasked with caring for a small girl named Laura who is much more like Logan than even Charles Xavier realizes.
For fans that missed out on the original release of “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest!” Mill Creek Entertainment offers up an eighties oddity that entertained me when I was but a wee four year old lad on Saturday mornings. “Hey Vern! It’s Ernest” is a show in the tradition of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” that is—well—pretty much like Pee Wee’s Playhouse, except where Pee Wee Herman is a man child with a bunch of colorful friends, Vern, as played by Jim Varney, is kind of a Southern blue collared man prone to changing characters at the drop of a hat and getting in to all kinds of wacky misadventures. Varney immortalized the character of Ernest in the eighties, and he became something of an underdog hero in the late eighties to early nineties starring in various films and ad campaigns. “Hey Vern!” had a brief run as opposed to “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” but shares the same wonky attitude and surreal comedy that can be appreciated by cult audiences alike.