Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
Starring: Dax Shepherd, Michael Pena, Kristen Bell, Ryan Hansen, Jessica McNamee, and Vincent D'Onofrio
Synopsis: This is another film that's a re-boot of a popular TV series, this time the drama that began in the 1970s about officers with the California Highway Patrol. Aside from a cameo by Erik Estrada — the star of the original series — there is no connection between this film and the show. The film, written, directed and starring Shepherd, isn't trying to re-make the show. Instead, it's using the iconic characters and idea to create something completely new — a hard R-rated comedy that's meant to be, in part, a send up of the original. This time officer Baker (Shepherd) is a washed up motocross rider whose body is broken and marriage is in shambles. And Ponch (Pena) is an under cover FBI Agent, and sex addict, who's trying to uncover corruption in the Highway Patrol. There's plenty of funny moments in this film, and it's a breezy watch. It's not great, but it knows what it's trying to be and stays in on the joke. This is probably the perfect way to "honor" the original series as a film, and paves the way for a similar treatment of "Baywatch" this summer.
Rating: R for crude sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Becky G., Ludi Lin, RJ Cyler, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader, and Bryan Cranston
Synopsis: For people of a certain age, the title “Power Rangers” conjures a certain image. In the mid-to-late 1990s, “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” blasted their way into people’s homes, entertaining millions. Of course the production wasn’t of the highest quality. But that didn’t so much matter as kids and teens sunk into the stories. Though the show long-since ended, people still remember the “Power Rangers” and come back to elements of the show. So it only makes sense that it would find new life in the movies. The new film “Power Rangers” is meant to re-boot the brand and is purported to be the first of a possible six-film franchise. In fact, the post-credits sequence hints a possible additions to the team in future installments. And with more than $40 million in Box Office receipts on opening weekend, it’s clear there’s still some interest in the franchise. At the outset it might seem a little strange for an actor like Cranston to be in the “Power Rangers” movie. After all, he’s been nominated for an Academy Award and is an Emmy winner for “Breaking Bad.” But before all that, Cranston began his career as a voice actor on the original “Power Rangers” show, so in a way it’s like a homecoming for him to appear in the film. And, in fact, a beefed up cast was one of the appeals of this film. You know, aside from nostalgia. The presence of Cranston, Hader and Banks lends a little credibility to the project. And the new young actors cast in the roles of the Rangers also do a nice job. I particularly liked Cyler — best known for his work in “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” — who brought plenty of humor to his part. But the film is just OK. The story progresses slowly at first, but the character development among the teens is one of the best parts of the film. Once they hit the training sequences and, particularly, the action sequences at the end, the film breaks down and becomes rather bland. Still, for fans of the original, this is a nice, faithful adaptation of the material. It’s a fine movie and one that delivers on its premise. For those looking for a trip back to the 1990s, this fits the bill. But it remains to be seen if it’s worthy of a new film franchise.
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor.
Verdict: Two stars out of four.
Friday, March 31— "The Boss Baby," "Ghost in the Shell," "The Zookeeper's Wife"