Movie Reviews: Life and Power Rangers


Cary, NC – Life tells the familiar story of astronauts aboard the international space station who discover life on Mars and get more than they bargained for. Director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) uses his excellent cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation) and tight direction to make this otherwise standard sci-fi tale a cut above the rest.

Gyllenhaal And Crew Are Great

I’ve said it many times before, but Gyllenhaal is one of my absolute favorite actors around. His performances in Nightcrawler, Prisoners and Zodiac are among my favorite, and when it comes to his choice in projects, I tend to trust him completely, at least enough to give whatever he is in a fair chance.

And I must admit, with Life I was a little skeptical. The film most closely resembles Alien (one of my all-time favorite horror movies) and when anything tries to do something so similar, I tend to be fairly harsh in my judgement.

Solid, Well Crafted Sci-Fi

Thankfully though, Life is tense and well-made throughout. Gyllenhaal is excellent, helping to keep the tension high. Reynolds also fairs well. People tend to forget how believable he can be. Funny and charming of course, but he wisely uses that likability to get the audience on his side, which comes into great effect when things really start to go wrong.

The rest of the crew are also likable, again adding to the stakes when stuff hits the fan. Director Espinosa doesn’t waste time either, keeping the film at a lean 103 minutes.

I also have to mention the films ending. No spoilers of course, that would just be mean, but the film hints at where it’s going fairly early on, though you don’t really believe it’s gonna follow through. Well, it does, and its pretty crazy in the best way and the film is all the better for it.

Worth It

Overall, Life is a solid adult sci-fi horror thriller with a great cast and a killer ending. It’s not often enough we get serious genre films like this, and that should always be celebrated. Worth the trip.

Power Rangers

One of the latest franchises to fall into the series of big-screen remakes, Power Rangers makes the original TV series more interesting than ever before while still falling short as a quality action movie.

Important Changes

Going in, it’s important to point out that I was never a fan of the Power Rangers show. I didn’t like it as a kid and looking back, those episodes are unwatchable. 2017’s Power Rangers is better than that, for sure. The core cast of five teenagers who become the Power Rangers (who have to defend a Krispy Kreme store from aliens in this version) have distinct personalities and traits that let the audience follow them and get invested. And the movie takes a look at their various personal problems in a way that isn’t too serious but not too flippant either. Plus, unlike the show, there is not a constant barrage of awful puns.

These changes make Power Rangers slightly more mature, targeting the movie for a teenage demographic instead of much younger children as the TV show did. But these changes are not made evenly. We still have these teenagers putting on metallic suits, piloting robot animals and fighting space monsters. Nowhere is it more clear than Elizabeth Banks’ (Wet Hot American Summer, Hunger Games) portrayal of classic villain Rita Repulsa, which is hammed up to the nth degree. These elements do not mesh at all with the more realistic tone of the rangers’ various Teen Dramas.

Reasonable Action

But most audiences are not going to Power Rangers to see teenagers talk about not fitting in and being bullied. They want to see a Megazord fight a giant lizard or see some flip kicks into a group of Putty Patrollers. And Power Rangers has that, though it takes a while to get to the big scale fighting with robots and monsters.

How is it? Not bad. The CGI looks good and the fighting particularly with the Zords near the end is exciting at times. To give you an idea, it’s better than a Transformers movie but not as good as a Marvel movie. And one of the downsides Power Rangers has to the original TV show is the monsters are less imaginative. The big fight in this movie is ostensibly Goldar but it is a far diluted version of that past villain.

Probably Skip It

If you were already interested in seeing Power Rangers, go ahead. You will have fun. But if this was not on your radar, no reason to go out and see it. As an action movie building on the 1990s franchise, it is fine. Now the five sequels that are already planned? That’s another story.

Jordan Hunt reviews movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews. Photos from Facebook (Life/Power Rangers).

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1 reply
  1. David
    David says:

    Life is such an entertaining movie. I love sci-fi and loved recent films such as Interstellar, The Martian and Arrival. This is up there in my top ten films of all time. Yes it borrows ideas from Alien, Gravity and many others but at the end of the day, when you produce a film better than all of those it borrows from and improves upon it doesn’t matter. It feels like I’ve waited decades for a film with an alien (as opposed to pretending one may appear), set in space orbiting earth to be made. It is better than Alien. Really. And equally as suspenseful.

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