After a few weeks that were light on new releases, this weekend offers a trio of big movies. Oddly, these include a double-dose of bad TV shows that have made a leap to the big screen. Knowing that may make the third title, a sci-fi horror flick, seem a bit more appealing – until you actually see it.
I was a tad too old to get into ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ when it first hit American TV screens, so I certainly have no nostalgia for the crappy kids’ show. However, I have a slew of friends who are dying to see the big-budget reboot. From the director of ‘Project Almanac‘, ‘Power Rangers‘ is an origin story that features no-name twenty-somethings playing the ensemble of martial arts experts. After the asteroid from ‘Chronicle’ crashes into their hometown, they’re gifted with powers that will be needed to save the world from bad guys. Although Bryan Cranston, Bill Hader and Elizabeth Banks play significant roles, I think I’ll pass on this one.
Our second TV-to-theaters adaptation is ‘CHIPS‘. Of all the 1970s and ’80s series that I remember watching as a kid (‘The Fall Guy’, ‘Knight Rider’, ‘Airwolf’, ‘Quantum Leap’, ‘The A-Team’, ‘Magnum P.I.’, etc.), the one that I was most bored by was ‘CHiPs’. The folks at Warner Bros. seem to have the same sentiment because they opted to take the ’21 Jump Street’ route and turn it into a full-blown R-rated comedy. Michael Peña plays Ponch. Dax Shepard not only plays the other lead, Baker, but he also wrote and directed. Just like ‘Jump Street’, the two go undercover to learn the identity of the police force’s crooked cops. Adam Brody, Vincent D’Onofrio and Shepard’s wife Kristen Bell co-star. I haven’t seen it, but I expect it to get road-rashed by the competition this weekend.
While I would have loved to see all three of this weekend’s new releases, they were screened for critics at the same time. It’s not often that the studios play chicken with screening times like this, but when they do, none budge. With ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘CHIPS’ being adaptations from shows that I didn’t like, I opted to go to the third movie. That was a mistake.
Writers of good movies can write bad movies and directors of good movies can direct bad movies. With this weekend’s sci-fi option coming from filmmakers with both types of credits, it could have gone either way. As much as I wanted to love it, it goes the wrong way. From the director of ‘Safe House‘ and the writers of ‘Zombieland‘, ‘Deadpool‘ and that terrible ‘G.I. Joe‘ sequel comes ‘Life‘, a space thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds. The story is set on the International Space Station just as a single-cell organism found on Mars is brought in for research. The crew and ship are prepped for the planned risky experiments. However, neither is ultimately prepared once the actual experiments start. The crew make unbelievably dumbass and irrational decisions simply so that the horror plot can resume. And the supposedly locked-down ship just so happens to allow the alien being to get out and wreak havoc. Remember the dingbat character in ‘Prometheus’ whose sole purpose was to map the alien planet, yet got lost in the previously mapped tunnels? The entire crew in ‘Life’ are a bunch of supposedly intelligent a-holes like that. It’s maddening. My exit comment to the studio rep was: “I should have picked Power Rangers.” You just might be better off doing the same too.