CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
‘Power Rangers’ Reboot is a Stunning Bore
CHICAGO – The big budget “Power Rangers” reboot tests the limits of just how pedestrian a supposed $100 million dollar blockbuster can be. Part of that is due to the fact that superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, and a movie has to have something more than just silver screen quality special effects to set it apart. But looking at the finished project – with its flat performances, sluggish pace, and ho-hum-yet-costly effects, it’s hard to see who was exactly asking for this anyway?
The Power Rangers are so anonymous they make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles look richly textured and fleshed out by comparison. And this cast seems to have been assembled in a focus group, with no considerations for chemistry whatsoever. It opens with a tired prank where star high school quarterback Jason (Dacre Montgomery) sticks a cow in the locker room, and then gets put under house arrest after another of those frenetically cut police chases which suggests a low rent sequence by director Michael Bay. He’s sentenced to detention, a sort of basement breakfast club, where he meets autistic Billy (RJ Cycler) and cheerleader-gone-bad Kimberly (Naomi Scott). Toss in new girl Trini (Becky G) and daredevil Zack (Ludi Lin), and you have a team of Power Rangers that no one could pick out of a police lineup.
The Crew Dons the Iconic Suits in ‘Power Rangers’
Photo credit: Lionsgate
The performances range from barely serviceable to wooden, with supposed leading man Dacre Montgomery embodying all the personality of a floorboard. On a trip out to the mine where Billy’s deceased dad used to work, Billy blows a hole in a mountain and uncovers the five special stones which give each ranger power. As the McGuffin that moves the story along, they’re no Holy Grail.
They soon discover the underground spaceship inhabited by alien robot sidekick Alpha 5 (voice of Bill Hader, attempting to bring Johnny 5 of ‘Short Circuit’ to a new generation) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston.) Zordon is the deceased leader of a previous Power Ranger team whose essence has been preserved inside the alien spaceship. This results in the Power Rangers having discussions with a wall, seemingly made out of a giant pin art toy like those given to toddlers. And yes, characters having conversations with a wall is just as dull as it sounds.
When they aren’t talking alien gobbledygook with a wall, the Power Rangers show themselves in need of some serious therapy. Each get together threatens to devolve into one part communal whining, one part AA meeting. How else to interpret a scene where the group gathers at the camp fire with introductions like “I’m Zack, and I’m a Power Ranger.” Yet these group therapy sessions don’t broaden the characters, or do much of anything.
Power Source is Discovered in ‘Power Rangers’
Photo credit: Lionsgate
The characters don’t even don their signature suits until the climax of the film, which involves some of the most blatant product placement outside of an Adam Sandler movie. Elizabeth Banks chews scenery as a big baddie looking for gold to assemble a special effects team of rock monsters to harvest a crystal from the earth’s core. What we have is a movie too clunky and pedestrian to work, but not the kind of head slappingly awful monstrosity that it could potentially have been. It’s simply too boring to be a disaster, and it’s just not anything that anyone will remember five minutes after they leave the theater.