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Justice League photo
What world am I living in right now?
Justice League is in the middle of a huge mess right now. DC Comics and Warner Bros. are tooling and re-tooling elements, Ben Affleck was almost phased out of the Batman role (before confirming he'd be staying on), and the fi...

Inhumans photo
Inhumans

Marvel's Inhumans San Diego Comic-Con trailer is less than impressive


Almost inhumane
Jul 22
// Nick Valdez
There's a weird air around Marvel's The Inhumans. Maybe it's because it's a formerly scheduled film project that got bumped to TV, the fact that some of it being shot on IMAX cameras makes it seem bigger than it actually is, ...
Hey Arnold!  photo
Hey Arnold!

Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie could finally give me the closure I've always wanted


The Pigeon Man lives!
Jul 22
// Nick Valdez
Our current 90s nostalgia boom has resulted in some good things, and lots of bad things. But I am thankful that it's allowed some stories to finally get a real ending. Hey Arnold! was one of the many Nickelodeon shows cut dow...
The Defenders photo
The Defenders

Marvel's The Defenders comes together a little more with its San Diego Comic-Con trailer


Sigourney Weaver, the GOAT
Jul 22
// Nick Valdez
I still haven't seen Marvel's Iron Fist, especially after Editor at Large Hubert Vigilla tore it apart in his review, but I guess I'm going to have to read some cliff notes or something if I want the full Defenders experience...

Spawny Boy photo
Spawny Boy

Todd McFarlane to direct new R-rated, lower budget Spawn movie


S to the p to the a to the awn
Jul 22
// Nick Valdez
20 years ago Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo put on some crazy outfits and delivered an even crazier film with Spawn. While Todd MacFarlane's Spawn will never be as popular as it was in 1997, a film version now makes sen...
One Piece photo
One Piece

One Piece is getting a live-action TV series for some reason


Yo ho ho he took a bite of gum gum
Jul 21
// Nick Valdez
Eiichiro Oda's One Piece is arguably the most popular anime series in Japan, so with how much anime has garnered interest in the West it was only a matter of time before some Western company wanted to try their hands at ...
Mega Man photo
Mega Man

There's a Mega Man movie on the way from the 'Catfish' directors for some reason


'You got me there.'
Jul 19
// Nick Valdez
With the kinds of properties getting film adaptations lately, like Sonic the Hedgehog, Gears of War, Detective Pikachu, Streets of Rage, and even friggin' Tetris, some properties slip through the cracks. First annou...
George Romero photo
George Romero

RIP George Romero (1940-2017)


The master of Horror has passed
Jul 17
// Nick Valdez
George Romero passed away yesterday after a brief, but harsh battle with lung cancer. He was 77 years old.  Some deaths really do a number on you, as names like George Romero have become such a cemented name in cinema it...

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

Jul 14 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221622:43616:0[/embed] War for the Planet of the ApesDirector: Matt ReevesRelease Date: July 14th, 2017Rated: PG-13 Years after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) is still struggling with his role in the death of his former friend and rival Koba. With the apes retreating to the forest, the last remnants of humanity have taken a more aggressive approach (sparked by Koba's attack on them years prior) led by the militant extremist, Colonel (Woody Harrelson). When Colonel crosses the line and threatens his family, Caesar decides to travel across the states to hunt down the Colonel and get his revenge.  First things first, War is absolutely gorgeous. Somehow improving on the visuals found in the second film, War gives us flair like snowy fur, wet fur, and several visually distinct settings. This film can often be dark (both figuratively and literally), yet the lighting is kept at such a balance each motion captured ape is still distinct when sitting in caves or walking around during night scenes. And although we've seen it in action two films prior, the motion capture animation is still sublime. Serkis' Caesar is, with just cause, a standout above the rest as Caesar now more closely resembles the intelligent apes found in the 70s films. I personally miss the broken English he spoke in the previous film, but a Caesar without stilted dialogue allows Serkis to evolve the character with a more nuanced performance outside of physical acting.  Each film in this modern Apes trilogy has had its own distinct flavor. Rise has an undercurrent of dread, constantly inching its way toward the expected uprising, Dawn is a clash of violence and ideologies as the new status quo is established, and War is the methodical denouement in which the stage is set for the Planet of the Apes story everyone is familiar with. Because of this, unfortunately, this film has more of a pacing issue than the others. Essentially becoming a revenge thriller as Caesar morphs into an one-ape army, War sort of meanders through the second act until the thread for the final act reveals itself. This slower pace seems entirely intentional as Caesar's revenge arc lacks any satisfactory developments. But regardless of how this deliberately slower act reflects Caesar's core growth toward the end of the trilogy, and conveying Caesar's loss of hope and direction, I can't help but think a brisker pace would make the tone of the eventual ape escape less jarring. If all this talk of a slower, character intensive piece scares you away, no need to worry. I'm not going to go into depth about it here, but there's a extended prison break scene and it's probably the best thing in this entire trilogy. While War loses the grey morality of the previous two films as one side is a clear cut villain -- thus losing a bit of the nuance of the rest of the trilogy -- having a side to truly root for improves the trilogy overall. It's sort of freeing, actually. The tone of the film gets a more lighthearted spin once Bad Ape (Steve Zahn, pictured below) is introduced and the pacing problems of the second act melt away completely. The final third of the film is fun, has quite a bit of metaphorically intriguing imagery, and brings the trilogy to a close in a splendid way.  When all was said and done, I couldn't believe how this trilogy pulled it off. It's rare you'll get one well made reboot film, let alone an entire trilogy. The Apes trilogy has always been a sleeper hit these past few Summers, and because of the smaller attention, Matt Reeves was able to keep a steady vision for the final two films without much interference. War for the Planet of the Apes is a "blockbuster" in name only, and because of this was able to make the many brave choices it does. I mean, it's a film trilogy about monkey business which also includes death, hardship, disease, mediation between warring states, post-traumatic stress disorder, class struggles, and even some poop flinging for good measure.  I'm hard pressed to think of a better modern trilogy, or one that isn't one of the big five (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Godfather, The Lord of the Rings, and Back to the Future), that could measure up to this. War of the Planet of the Apes is the finest end to a trilogy I've seen in a long time. 
Apes Review photo
Ape Escape
Combing through nostalgic culture has become the norm, and unfortunately, so have the middling resulting projects. Audiences have, sadly, come to expect reboots to suffer as studios struggle to re-capture what made something ...

Review: Castlevania (Season1)

Jul 08 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221685:43647:0[/embed] Castlevania (Season 1)Director: Sam DeatsRating: NRRelease Date: July 7th, 2017 (Netflix) When the religious town of Wallachia burns Dracula's (Graham McTavish) wife at the stake, he promises to return after a year with an army from hell and smite all of them. Jumping a year ahead we meet Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last remnant of a monster hunting family. Trevor's pretty much sick of the entire thing. He's lost faith in people after his family was betrayed, and couldn't care less about the monster attacks. But when he's inadvertently thrown into the action by a secret society of magicians, Trevor finds himself in a bigger battle than he ever could've imagined.  Castlevania's first season is less a television show and more like one of those direct to home video animated films you'd expect to see from the likes of DC Comics or Marvel Studios. Usually I'm not one to complain about the length of a series in reviews, but the four twenty-something minute episodes (nice) essentially act as a lengthy pilot for the actual series. This is fine in concept, but it also cripples these first episodes. It makes sense for Netflix's distribution style, which argues that each show should be binged, but it's not like each episode stands on its own. Rather than episodes having a clear cut beginning, middle, and end, there's only enough time for the general arc of the "season" to carry any weight. It's no help to the series either that the entire plot is predictable (even complete with a big boss fight at the end). There's definitely a feeling here that this season would've been better served without being chopped up into parts.  But even without much to invest in from episode to episode, the other benefit of being a two hour pilot means it's brisk and light. This lightness allows the characters to bask in Castlevania's pulpy vibe, but it's definitely hard to take anything seriously yet. For example, Trevor is a fine main character. He's the standard too cool for school protagonist, and Ellis clearly had a fun time writing for him, but the most intriguing stuff is still a ways away. I'm more interested in what eventually brought Trevor to his low point at the start of the series, and that drama won't be evolved further until the next season, if at all. As a result, he feels thin. There's just simply not enough time to take him further than grizzled warrior archetypes. While he's definitely fun to watch now, it's completely forgettable without anything really juicy to latch onto.  Castlevania's animation isn't great, and is particularly janky when characters are talking to one another, but is ultimately serviceable. There's a nice flow to the action scenes even as the backgrounds tend to fade into oblivion during them. The fights themselves seem particularly anime influenced as one fight toward the end of the season is accompanied by too familiar sword swooshes (the technical term, yes) and angles reminiscent of other shows. Trevor's character design is unfortunately the only one with any kind of personality, but it's not saved by the overall flatness of the art as a whole. But, once again, since this is only a pilot, I'm sure there's room for betterment in the future.  Given how short of a season Netflix's Castlevania is, chances are you've seen it by the time you read this review. If you haven't, however, it's a very easy show to recommend...for now. I wouldn't exactly say it's for everyone since those who don't like the Castlevania games won't get anything of note out of this, but like Shankar's bootleg productions, it's a series made by a fan for other fans.  With that in mind, I do worry this series cannot hold up with a longer structure. This first season is a good watch mainly because it's over before any of its faults truly make a dent. Just as how Shankar's Bootleg Universe shorts seem great as five minute pieces, the minute you really stop to think about the ideas therein ruins the experience. 
Castlevania Review photo
That's four! Four episodes! Ha-ha-ha!
Adi Shankar is quite a cult hit in film circles. He's made a name for himself by fully investing into properties he loves. It's a nerdy demeanor that's absolutely infectious as its led to his famous "Bootleg Universe," in whi...

Review: Despicable Me 3

Jun 30 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221638:43623:0[/embed] Despicable Me 3Directors: Eric Guillon, Kyle Balda, and Pierre CoffinRelease Date: June 30th, 2017Rated: PG After failing to capture former child star turned supervillain Balthasar Bratt (Trey Parker), Gru (Steve Carell) loses his job at the Anti-Villain League. While he's trying to figure out what to do with his life next, his long lost twin brother Dru (Steve Carell) contacts him and tells him about their family's villainous legacy. Now Gru has to decide whether or not to please his minions and commit crimes or do what's best for his family. Also his family is there doing a thing each because that's all there's time for this go around, and the minions are farting around in a prison or something. You can basically take the old "long-lost relative" TV trope and copy/paste its plot here and you'll get the gist.  When a TV show resorts to a long-lost relative plot featuring some guest star, it usually means the show is out of organic ideas and has to force in another entity in order to breathe any kind of life into its husk. It's like continuing impassioned CPR when the person you're trying to save is already gone. Every movement you make is futile, and you're only doing damage to their body. Sitting through Despicable Me 3 parallels this hopelessness all too well. It's made worse by the film's constant allusions to comedies of cinema past. At one point, the Minions are driving underwater and speed past two clownfish that look like Finding Nemo's Marlin and Nemo, only pouring salt into the wound. It was a grim reminder that I could've seen something else, and knowing I still had another 80 minutes to go only exacerbated my apathy.  But so what if I slowly fell asleep, what about the kids? Didn't they enjoy the funny funnies? Well, they did not. I not only noticed a huge group of kids shuffling around in their seats during the super potent Minion rendition of "I Am the Very Modern Major General" from the very timely referenced 1800s opera The Pirates of Penzance, but also saw how they failed to react when the Minions went to prison. But alas, we were all trapped in Despicable Me 3's prison together. At least the kids were still treated as human beings and got brief reprieves from this comedic wasteland every time a Minion made a fart or said boobs or something. I have to admit, even I laughed when the Minions ended up being super successful in prison and acted like some gang from a 50s musical. But was that a laugh out of pure necessity? Did I force myself to react in order to re-affirm my humanity? Then soon, I realized I made myself sick drinking so much out of this small oasis of humor in my perilously dry journey.  One has to wonder how much this cast is getting paid for keeping this farce going. Trey Parker is slightly entertaining as he portrays yet another manchild, but he's clearly just cashing a check here. Steve Carell, bless him, is the one gleaming hope in this dark world and gets the space to emotionally play around with Grudru once the Minions and the family are out of the picture. Seriously, I think Gru interacts with his family, like, twice? It's very odd considering where the series began. As for the rest of the family, the girls are all still cute as ever but they're not given anything meaty to do. Stuck repeating past catchphrases and forever glued to the same age they were seven years ago. Wait, it's only been seven years and we've gotten four of these movies? And Minions 2 is coming out soon also?  I...I just can't do this anymore.  Look, if you're reading this review you're not going to give a shit about what I write here and go see this anyway because you think the Minions are cute. It's fine, I get it. The Minions are oversaturated on the Internet, playing parts in memes with everything from how bad Mondays are to abortion. With how prevalent they've become, it's impossible to not buy into them at this point. So honestly, does it really matter how I end this? I put more thought here than anything Despicable Me 3 had to offer me, so I'll just leave you with one of my favorite quotes in the film.  *fart noise* 
DM3 Review photo
Kill m3
Despicable Me was a revelation when it first hit theaters. A villain choosing fatherhood over his proclivity for evil deeds was a novel idea, and it was much more than the minion flavored marketing would have you believe. The...

Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Jun 29 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221639:43619:0[/embed] Spider-Man: HomecomingDirector: Jon WattsRelease Date: July 7th, 2017Rated: PG-13 Spider-Man: Homecoming isn't concerned with re-telling Peter Parker's origin story. Instead, we're introduced to a Peter (Tom Holland) that's already been established around his borough of Queens, NY. But after getting a taste of Avenger-like action during Civil War, Peter's been anxious to fight some big time crime. Stumbling on Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton)'s band of thieves powered by alien technology (left behind after The Avengers), Peter's out to prove to his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) that he can handle it. But the 15 year old Peter finds he struggles with balancing his Spider-Man duties, school life with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), love life, and home life with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).  The Homecoming subtitle is both a play on Peter's newfound high school age, and a "homecoming" to the MCU. With how prevalent Downey Jr.'s Iron Man was featured in advertising, I was worried poor little Peter would take a backseat to all of The Avengers craziness. We've seen the result of universe building bogging down some of the Marvel properties, but thankfully Homecoming doesn't concern itself with that too much either. The events of the MCU proper have informed some of the character motivations for sure, as Adrian gets his villainous start after the Battle of NY, but there's been a great effort to ground Spider-Man in his own little pocket of the world. Thus, Homecoming is free to not only tell its story at its own pace, but isn't afraid to explore Peter as a character.  Director Jon Watts takes great pains to make Homecoming feel more intimate. From the opening scene featuring Peter's video diary, to the pacing of conversations between characters, there are plenty of scenes given time to breathe and fully flesh out the film's extended cast. Tom Holland is a dream, and his awkward yet full-hearted take on the hero is much different than we've seen in the past. Holland portraying a teenage Peter is not only believable, but incredibly refreshing. When Holland's Peter jokes around, or accidentally saves the day, it always comes across as natural. Because of this, the threats to him become even more engrossing as a literal child is now fighting to save his loved ones. It's a tonal balance we've yet to see from Spider-Man, and I'm very curious as to where it can go from here.  But it's not like Holland steals the show, either. Homecoming has an incredible cast, and the script is laid out so every character has time to shine. Michael Keaton playing a birdman after, well, Birdman, may be ripe for jokes, but Keaton's soft spoken menace gives him a presence we've yet to see from other MCU villains. Spider-Man's villains are probably the most famous in Marvel Comics, so it feels so right to see Keaton stake his claim. Adrian is complex, has a reasonable motivation, and seems better written overall than a good chunk of Marvel's other baddies. Peter's classmates are all fabulous as well. Zendaya shines as a brilliant loner, Tony Revolori's Flash is the right kind of bully, it's great to see Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan again, and Jacob Batalon's Ned is so damn adorable I can't wait to see him again. The cast is just so well put together, and Queens has such a lived in feel, Homecoming absolutely nails the "neighborhood" in "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man." We haven't experienced Spider-Man like this before.  And, uh, Marisa Tomei is a goddess and I'm so glad Homecoming addresses the shift in Aunt May's age.  Now Spider-Man: Homecoming isn't a perfect film, as the plot tends to get lost during the deliberate pacing of the second act, and it's still an origin story thematically, but it's still entirely successful. I mean, we finally get an action scene that isn't about fighting a bad guy, but saving people. I can't believe that hasn't happened yet. Even if I'm reviewing Homecoming in the comic book movie bubble, I feel like this world is so well established that the film's weakness are a reflection of its central character.  This new Peter is flawed, but attacks his flaws head on. Homecoming has so much fun just living and swinging with Spider-Man, it's hard not to accept those flaws and just go with the swing of things. Spider-Man has come home, and I can't wait to see what Sony and Marvel do with him next. 
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Third time's the charm
Spider-Man films have been through all sorts of ups and downs. What was once the biggest comic book property on film has since been the victim of studio craziness, failed attempts, and just an overall bad reception by th...

Box Office Numbers photo
Box Office Numbers

Box Office Numbers: China's probably going to save the Transformers franchise...again


Wow, china that big
Jun 26
// Nick Valdez
Tranformers: The Last Knight is, well, a mess. Poor writing, poor pacing, poor Marky Mark, and is basically par for the course for the Transformers series. Yet, these things still make a ton of money. You ...

Review: Wonder Woman

May 31 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221570:43578:0[/embed] Wonder WomanDirector: Patty JenkinsRelease Date: June 2, 2017Rated: PG-13 Diana (Gal Gadot) is the Princess of Themyscira, an island inhabiting an ancient Amazonian race put on the Earth by Zeus to stifle mankind's need for war. Molded from clay and birthed by Zeus, Diana has always been a little different from the rest of her Amazonian sisters and put to the true test when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an English spy, crash lands on her home and brings news of a great war happening around the world (WWI). Figuring it to be the work of Ares, the god of war, Diana demands to be taken to the front line. But when in the outside world, Diana has to come to grips with her own humanity as she learns the real driving force behind the war.  Let's get this out of the way first. Wonder Woman is an origin story. The plot follows a lot of the standard beats you've come to expect from origin stories (complete with a sequence introducing the flashback in question), but unlike other films of its ilk, rather than a character slowly becoming a mythological being, Wonder Woman essentially works backwards. As it's introducing Diana and her world, the film takes an already established higher being and challenges her infallibility. Always being sure to treat her as a goddess, the narrative instead veers away from the stereotypical physical change and focuses on internal struggle and strife. Momentous scenes in origin stories like first donning of the famous suit, fighting the main villain, and the original call to action, are subdued in favor of zeroing in on Diana's matter-of-fact perspective. Basically, there's no need to have Diana change into a hero since she already is one, and I can't understate how refreshing it is to learn about her humanity instead.  Ambitious as the internal narrative is, it wouldn't have worked without a strong performance from its lead. To be completely honest, I was worried about Gal Gadot's strength as a lead actress going into this. Thankfully, that worry only lasted about 20 minutes. While the first chunk of the film is stilted and full of bad acting and accents (likening it to a more generic version of Xena: Warrior Princess), once Gadot is introduced everything perks right up. She's kind of incredible in the way she commands attention here (befitting the character too). Director Patty Jenkins takes a little time each shot to make Gadot stand out a little more, whether its subtly pointing out the fact she is taller than most of her co-stars, or the costume design making her look just different enough from everyone else. Gadot and Jenkins work together to really nail the fish out of water angle here, and further smooth out any edges Gadot could have in her performance.  But Gadot's performance wouldn't have meant anything without a great script. Wonder Woman may not be perfectly written in all areas (as one big moment diminishes her character), but there's a great balance of levity and drama. What I came to appreciate the most were smaller beats allowing the actors to really dig into their characters. Chris Pine is as charming as he's ever been, so the best scenes of the film are simply subdued conversations between Steve and Diana. These smaller, character intense moments also help to elevate the later generic superhero action taking place toward the climax. There's an added layer of catharsis, but it doesn't mean the climax is safe from gender normative action where Diana is suddenly not the character she was the rest of the film. The climax will need further discussion once more folks see it for sure.  As for the action, it's fine. The action scenes are a bit Snyder-esque as they use slow motion to emphasize movement, but there is a greater sense of fluidity in the motion. Once Diana starts whipping around dudes with a golden rope, the film basks in some very cool visuals. There's unfortunately a bit of unintentional slapstick during some of the scenes, but it gives the film a little flavor not seen in other DC Comics films. I'll give it a pass.  The fear when reviewing superhero films is critically analyzing them within a bubble. Initially, I was worried I'd attribute Wonder Woman's success to being a well made film within the DC Extended Universe (and we've been burned so many times), and just clinging to it like a life raft in a sea of schmaltz. But, after writing this review, I've come to the conclusion it's just a damn good film.  Wonder Woman, the oft-misplaced icon in DC's Holy Trinity, has truly made her mark on cinema. Less Batmen and supermenches, more wonderful women please.  Second Opinion: Wonder Woman gets almost everything right for its first two acts. Its action sequences are impressive, and utilize Wonder Woman's superpowers in unique and awesome ways. Patty Jenkins has a surprising eye for action for a drama director that allows it to flow and build, a feature many directors seem to lack. But more important than the kick ass action sequences is the fact the film works as a character piece. Unlike other DCEU films, you actually care about what's going on, the plot unfolds in a coherent way, and the characters act like they should. Yes, it may hit on a few (OK, a lot) of cliches, but it implements them to a tee. A lot of the charm comes from Chris Pine and Gal Gadot, who turn their relationship into something special. The film actually hits emotionally, which is why it's too bad the third act turns into nothing more than an action brawler. It doesn't fit with the rest of the film's tone, and feels more like a Zack Snyder movie than anything else. This doesn't sully the film as a whole, however, leading to a superhero movie that feels like its own thing. 80 -- Matthew Razak
Wonder Woman Review photo
Some kind of wonderful
DC Comics and Warner Bros have been, well, let's say misguided in their attempts at launching a series of films comparable to Marvel's success. Deciding to push through critical failure (thanks to overall box office success),...

Netflixilania photo
Netflixilania

Netflix's Castlevania series looks like an anime


Hopefully good?
May 24
// Nick Valdez
A teaser for the Castlevania adaptation on Netflix has just been posted on Netflix Latin America's Twitter. Watch it before it's gone! Okay, there's not enough here to actually criticize. As for the visuals, I'm fine with it. Besides, it's written by Warren Ellis. I'm sure it'll be fine. 

Review: Baywatch

May 24 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221553:43568:0[/embed] BaywatchDirector: Seth GordonRelease Date: May 26, 2017Rated: R Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is a lifeguard everyone loves. He may take his job a bit too seriously, but in the world of Baywatch, his lifeguard post includes its own arm of the local government (complete with enough of a budget to afford things like ATVs). When confronted with the disgraced, former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), he's forced to put his feelings about the new recruit aside when they uncover a larger drug plot at hand that's threatening the entire bay. But when the police won't investigate, Lt. Mitch and his lifeguard crew decide to take matters into their own hands and dicks and boobs.  Like most unfortunate comedies to fall in this category, Baywatch substitutes actual jokes with raunchy humor. Now I don't have a problem with raunch in practice, as dick jokes are as classic as apple pie, but they're only great when they don't disrupt the flow of the film. It's hard to explain, but I'll try and elaborate on my problem with Baywatch's genitalia humor by outlining one of its more problematic scenes. In the first fifteen minutes or so, Ronnie (Jon Bass), the archetypal loser of the bunch, has a crush on the lifeguard CJ (Kelly Rohrback) -- who's only purpose in this film is to be ogled -- and chokes on some food when she runs by. After CJ delivers the heimlich maneuver (complete with thrusting), Ronnie becomes erect. But to hide it from her, he nervously stumbles until he falls and gets stuck, dick first, in a beach chair. Thus resulting in a large crowd of people surrounding Ronnie as CJ and Mitch talk about setting him free. If it sounds like my summary made the scene seem devoid of charm, it was actually much worse experiencing it first hand. Sure it serves the purpose of introducing Ronnie and CJ's dynamic, but paints their friendship in an unpleasant, slog of a light.  It's a shame Baywatch relies so much on low hanging fruit humor, since it can be intelligent when it puts forth an effort. When the film allows itself to be made fun of, it actually makes for pretty fantastic sequences. The film's opening, for example, combines all that you'd expect to see (Johnson diving in slow motion, wide shots of the beach) but injects with a major nod to how ridiculous it all is once the title card shows up. There are even a few inspired raunchy bits (like the talking balls gag), and the fact that Mitch never refers to Brody by his real name. These occasional bright spots in the dialogue only make the rest of the script more disappointing by comparison.  But the major factor at play is how straight it plays the premise. Baywatch, while occasionally winking at itself, also takes things much more seriously than you'd hope. Long stretches are dedicated to plot exposition, or un-interestingly shot action sequences. Rather than laugh, or even question what I was watching, I often found myself having no reaction at all. And with a comedy that clocks in at two hours, that's pretty much the equivalent of drowning in shallow water. It's something that could've easily been avoided had you tried to kick around a bit.  Like the vapid characters of its source material, Baywatch is great to look at but once it opens its mouth you realize how hollow it is. It's almost as if the entire film plays in slow motion.  Baywatch is a bad watch. I know I should feel guilty about not ending this review on a better joke, but that'd mean putting in more effort than the film did. 
Baywatch Review photo
So much emocean
Baywatch is another film in the same vein of nostalgic television reboots like The A-Team, CHiPs, and the crazily successful 21 Jump Street. A show known only for attractive people running in slow motion serving as a sor...

Uncharted photo
Uncharted

Uncharted movie is now a prequel and will star Tom Holland as a young Nathan Drake


This kid is going places
May 22
// Nick Valdez
It's no secret Sony has been jiggering around with their adaptation of Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, but now it sounds like they've found a direction. Tom Holland, of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Riha...
The House photo
The House

The House just became a "can't miss" comedy thanks to this red band trailer


May 19
// Nick Valdez
The House is just one of those comedies with a cast that could either pull it all together into something great or fail miserably. Either way, you know you're in for a good time. The House stars Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler a...
Rampage photo
Rampage

The plot of the Rampage movie sounds a lot more serious than it should


Monsterverse this ain't
May 03
// Nick Valdez
It kind of sucks we're still waiting on a great videogame adaptation, and by the sounds of the upcoming Rampage film, we're going to wait a lot longer. Directed by Brad Peyton (San Andreas), and starring Dwayne John...
The Defenders photo
The Defenders

Marvel's Netflix shows finally come together in first trailer for The Defenders


Hallways for days
May 03
// Nick Valdez
I haven't seen Marvel's Iron Fist yet, but looks like I'm going to have to squeeze that in soon since the big team up show, The Defenders, already looks fantastic. Crossing over four different shows -- Daredevil, Jessica Jone...

Every Power Rangers Season, Ranked

Mar 27 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mention: Power Rangers Ninja Steel As of this writing, Ninja Steel is only ten episodes in (so halfway through the first half), so I can't fully rank it among the others yet. I've been enjoying what I've seen so far, however. Far removed from Neo-Saban's (when Saban reacquired the rights to the series' production in 2012) early growing pains, this season resets the age of the team -- they're teens in high school again -- and it's got all of the goofiness of the OG seasons but with better acting. I mean, they just introduced a gold ranger, who's a country western star and his helmet has a hat on it. What's not to like?  20. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive Summary: Two brothers try to steal a legendary crown (the Corona Aurora), but are imprisoned. Years later, explorer Andrew Hartford uncovers the crown, freeing the two bad bros. Andrew then brings in five folks, including his son, to become Power Rangers and gather the pieces of Corona Aurora before the baddies do.  Operation Overdrive is just a huge mess. I'm not exactly sure who or what to blame for its overall terribleness, but it's a combination of terribly written plots, terrible acting, terrible suits, a rap opening theme, and a bunch of characters who were all awful jerks. Seriously, this is the only season in Power Rangers where each member of the team is a selfish person with little redeeming value. The worst season of the Disney era, and the worst season overall.  19. Power Rangers Samurai/Super Samurai Summary: After otherworldly monsters invade feudal Japan, the Shiba clan trains generations of samurai to fight them and keep the otherworld (the Sanzu River) from flooding into the human one.  After Saban reacquired the production rights to the series from Disney in 2010 (which fans have dubbed the "Neo-Saban Era"), they took one of the shows I never thought would be adapted, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. The original series was unequivocally Japanese, so naturally there would be translation pains. But Samurai was the victim of a lot of factors. The series had moved to Nickelodeon, seasons were cut down to 20 episodes apiece (thus separating each series into two halves), episodes were aired out of order (the premiere was the fourth one produced), acting was all around awful (not to mention the worst child acting of the series), and it directly adapted plots from the original Japanese series even if it didn't make much sense in English. But, regardless of all of these factors, the show became popular enough (again) to keep going, mostly due to how unique of the season's theme was.  18. Power Rangers Mystic Force Summary: After dark forces of magic threaten the world, a great sorceress gathers five destined teens to be become Power Ranger wizards and fight the armies of the undead.  Like Samurai, Mystic Force is another season with a theme unique from the rest. The magical world (along with the admittedly cool look for the rangers themselves) could've been a great thing. However, the season became too focused on world building, introducing new characters every few episodes rather than allowing the season to breathe and/or give its core Ranger team the focus necessary. It became a Red Ranger season, meaning the Red Ranger got the bulk of the character work, but this was also a huge misfire since the Red this season (named Nick, sadly) was bland and uninteresting. The finale also had a random "mystical creatures vs. normies" kind of thing that sort of popped up out of nowhere, but the less said about that the better.  17. Power Rangers Megaforce/Super Megaforce Summary: Five teens are chosen to defend the world from an invading insect army then unlock powers at an alarming rate, eventually resulting in the ability to morph into every generation of Power Rangers before them.  Okay, there's quite a bit to unpack here. Megaforce was technically announced as the 20th Anniversary of the series, but nothing was officially done about it until Super Megaforce. Imagine the combined 100 episodes of two different shows mangled into a 40 episode nonsense machine and that's Megaforce. Rapid pacing combined with random tributes to Power Rangers never seen before (not even editing the Sentai exclusive teams out of the footage), and an overall laziness contributed to this season's downfall. Even more troublesome was what happened behind the scenes during their big anniversary episode. Saban had initially invited a bunch of old cast members but rescinded many of those invites before filming because they had become too expensive. So that's why you get two minutes of Tommy toward the end of the season and not much more there. But the suits and power changes were cool, so whatever.  16. Power Rangers Turbo Summary: The Rangers drive cars really fast.  Turbo was such a bad season it nearly ended the series altogether. After debuting with Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (which is oddly counted in the series' story despite being f**king terrible), it took footage from the Japanese Carranger, which was made as an intentional parody and saved Super Sentai overseas, and gave it gritty overtones. Its constant need to be taken seriously clashed with episodes where they got baked into a giant pizza or that one where Justin was stuck on a bicycle moving on its own. None of it was helped by a major casting change midway through when the OG cast decided to move on from the project after a few of them had stayed on for like a billion episodes. The one thing that saves this particular series is the fact I liked the new cast quite a bit. Patricia Ja Lee was the first Asian American Pink Ranger, and Selwyn Ward was a great Red Ranger. The two injected much of the needed personality this season (and beyond).  15. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue Summary: When Demons attack Mariner Bay, the Lightspeed organization recruits five individuals with expertise to become a rescue squad of Rangers to save the day.  For these next few entries, there are seasons which were almost good but not quite there. These seasons often had great ideas but were hindered by other aspects of the production. Lightspeed Rescue was awesome for a number of reasons: The military theme gave the Rangers a more professional vibe than in seasons past; the suits had a nice, clean look to them; it had a good theme song; they created a unique power ranger for the series; and Carter Greyson was an awesome, no-nonsense Red Ranger who shot first and asked questions later. What keeps it from being great, however, is the lack of interesting villains, often befuddling writing (such as focusing the traditional team-up episode between seasons on some random child actor), and  the fact that one of the main villains was just terrible.  14. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S3 Summary: The Rangers get ninja powers before turning into children and then aliens show up.  While fans are nostalgic for Power Rangers' initial run, most seem to forget how bad the third season was. A strong brand with the gradual loss of popularity, the writers had no idea what to really do anymore. With an increased budget leading to less Japanese footage, it adapted Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie into the series proper, adding in Ninja Powers, the Tengu Warriors, the Ninja Megazord (even using toy footage when the Ninja Megazord combined with the old Titanus zord), and eventually turning the Rangers into kids for the last half of the season. The brief (and terrible) Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers mini-season debuted here, and those are probably the worst episodes of the initial run. And I'm including Trini's troll doll. Still a lot better than the seasons higher up on the list, however.  13. Power Rangers Wild Force Summary: Five people are gathered on the floating island of Animaria, an island full of ancient animals called upon to protect the earth from pollution and environmental junk like that.  Wild Force suffers many of Lightspeed Rescue's issues,  with uninteresting villains (until the last few episodes anyway), weird decisions (their mentor was the worst), increased focus on Red Ranger, and an overbearing environmental message, but it's a rung above thanks to some standout episodes. Its crossover, "Reinforcements from the Future," is one of the best; the 10th Anniversary "Forever Red" episode remains one of my favorites; the suits were cool, and I actually was a fan of its Red Ranger until he committed an actual murder. I can't look at this season the same anymore, sadly.  12. Power Rangers Dino Charge/Dino Super Charge Summary: Five, then six, then seven, then ten people gather together when each discovers a long hidden dino gem, full of a transformative power that helps them fight the forces of evil.  The reason Megaforce was such a hearty failure is that it no longer had the excuse of Saban re-learning how to produce the series. But apparently they needed two series to figure out exactly how to handle things, because Dino Charge was a major improvement all around. It had better pacing, better filler episodes (meaning they don't contribute to the story but often provide character growth or comedy), a better cast of actors (Brandon Mejia is a great Red Ranger), and goes down in Ranger history for having the most Rangers on a single team at ten. Though not all of the Rangers were worthwhile (it's hard to develop ten different people in 40 episodes) and it fell apart toward the end, Dino Charge was still more enjoyable than most.  11. Power Rangers Zeo  Summary: After the destruction of the Command Center leaves them stranded, Zordon unveils a new set of powers from the Zeo Crystal, and this new level of power is needed more than ever against an invading machine legion.  Although Power Rangers was no stranger to change the first three seasons, the series didn't officially receive its first major overhaul until Zeo. Accompanied by an opening theme touting these new powers (based off of footage of a new season of Super Sentai) as "stronger than before," Zeo was an interesting thing. The Machine Empire had a larger villainous scope than Rita or Zedd, but they never accomplished anything concrete. There may have been a new Command Center, powers that technically grow in strength forever (thus leaving a plot hole for fans to argue about ad infinitum), and a starkly different suit overall, but Zeo also felt like a step down from the original series. It was a strange but much-needed transitional period, resulting in the loss of David Yost (who stepped out of the series due to terrible conditions behind the scenes), the loss of Karen Ashley's Aisha (who was written out of the show as a child), and the loss of quite a few viewers. This is where the nostalgia ends for most folks. But there were some great episodes within, like "King for a Day," which featured one of the best Bulk and Skull plots of the entire series. 10. Power Rangers Jungle Fury Summary: Three students of the kung-fu Order of the Claw are chosen to fight an ancient evil, Dai Shi, and rebalance the chi of the world.  Almost the final season of the series (before Disney decided to give it one last victory lap, RPM), it would've been a fine one to go out on. While it's got some goofy qualities (like talking flies and master karate folks turning into animals at the end for some reason), it was an ambitious season. Featuring only three initial Rangers (with a fourth and fifth debuting much later), this season played out like a kung-fu movie for kids. The suits are pretty cool, the fights were well choreographed in-suit and out, and instead of making a motorcycle to promote toy sales like other seasons, Jungle Fury chose to add three unique Rangers (who were initially evil puppets: another cool layer).  The finale may have been a bit rushed and unfulfilling, but it featured all eight Rangers fighting an undead army of monsters before a giant King Faux-dorah showed up for ten seconds. Also, the villains had a face turn, and that was pretty cool.  9. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Summary: Five strangers pull five mystical swords out of a rock and gain the power to save their floating space colony from an evil scorpion.  While Lost Galaxy isn't one of my favorites, I have to give credit where it's due. It's a season filled with so many of my personal favorite episodes ("The Rescue Mission," "To the Tenth Power/The Power of Pink," just to name a few) and one of my favorite sixth Rangers (Magna Defender, who eventually turned his powers over to Leo's brother Mike), but its shoes were just too big to fill. This was the first season of the series where the cast rotated out every year, and the first of the post-Zordon era, and after In Space's great finale everything felt lacking, naturally.  No matter how good in might've been in retrospect, it's another victim of growing pains. Quite a common problem for the series overall, as you might've noticed.  8. Power Rangers Ninja Storm Summary: After their entire ninja school was kidnapped by the evil ninja Lothor, three less than great ninja students are chosen to become the Wind Ninja Power Rangers and fight to save their fellow ninjas.  Though Disney acquired the production rights to the series mid-Wild Force, its first actual foray into the show was a fantastic debut. Though fans had to get used to a lot of new norms (32 episode series lengths, New Zealand locations and actors, less direct violence), there was an overall newness to the series that felt like a breath of fresh air. This first season focused on three initial Rangers (which had never been done before) before adding two Rival Rangers to the foray and had some pretty great acting from its main cast. The main villain, Lothor, was too hokey for it, and some of the episodes bordered on cartoonish terribleness, but the stark contrast of its style to seasons before and after helped make its mark among the others.  7. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S1 Summary: When evil sorceress Rita Repulsa escapes her prison of 10,000 years, a giant floating head and his robot butler recruit a team of teenagers with attitude. He endows them with dinosaur powers and they learn the value of teamwork and environmental friendliness.  Yes, the season of the series with the most fans isn't the best one. Though it began the Power Rangers legacy and introduced traditions (like the mythical sixth Ranger) and other mythos to the series, it was back before any nuance was added. There were monster-of-the-week episodes --  most of which are unmemorable (save for the "Rapping Pumpkin"), the teens themselves didn't have as much attitude as advertised (they were goodie goodies who recycled and the like), and it was back before good dialogue was a thing in this show. But, credit where it's due and all that.  6. Power Rangers Dino Thunder Summary: When the Mercer Corporation unleashes an army of dinosaurs, three kids stumble on dino powers and Tommy Oliver recruits them to form his very own team of Power Rangers.  When the ratings for the series began to falter, Disney brought the series back to its roots. A dinosaur theme, three Rangers at the start (which honestly might be why some of Disney's seasons worked so well), and the return of Jason David Frank as series mentor. Naturally, this meant Tommy Oliver got such a heavy focus (he became a Ranger again and got one of the best episodes of the series with "Fighting Spirit"), but the the rest of the cast were no slouches either. It takes quite a bit to take attention away from Tommy, but this team managed to do it.  The teens felt like teens for once (they fought among each other, hated school and things like training), the main villain was complicated (which was a welcome change post-Lothor), and it even managed an evil Ranger plot with everything else going on. It's not higher on the list because it has to compete with tighter series, but Dino Thunder is highly recommended.  5. Power Rangers SPD Summary: Space cops in the future.  I'll just say it outright: S.P.D. was slept on. With the best non-MMPR opening theme (which was no coincidence, as it brought back longtime composer Ron Wasserman) and the best suits from the Disney era, it nails a military theme that Lightspeed Rescue attempted years before. It also has a complicated set of Rangers in its core team, and is set years into the future, giving it a different vibe from previous seasons. Plus, there was a major story thread teased throughout which actually got the most focus toward the end of the season. A Power Rangers season with actual good foreshadowing? Yeah, it happened.  You see, this team was officially the "B Squad" or the second best. When the A Squad goes missing mid-season and re-emerges as bad guys toward the end. the final arc became overcoming their "second best" anxiety rather than taking on their generic villain.  4. Power Rangers Time Force Summary: Earth cops from the future.  Time Force is the closest to B-movie quality the series has ever come. With an older cast (some of whom with previous acting experience, which is why so much of the series is well acted), a team of Rangers from the future, some of the best suits the series has ever had, the best non-Tommy sixth Ranger (Eric the Quantum Ranger), and an unconventional villain (Rancic) who eventually gave up his evil ways when he put his daughter in danger. Though it's not a perfect series, as Rancic is the core of many of its problems (he's sort of an unsympathetic jerk despite the series trying to portray him as the opposite), and some of the team isn't as developed as others, the season featured quite a bit of nuance in its storytelling, which hadn't been present in the series before. It'd be years before it got that level of nuance again.  3. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S2 Summary: Zordon's team of teenagers with attitude face even greater challenges than before like how to negotiate proper pay per episode.  The best season of Power Rangers' initial run was after they worked out the kinks. Lord Zedd was introduced, Tommy lost his Green Ranger powers and became the White Ranger, there's an episode where Kimberly impersonates Rita Repulsa, three of the original cast were written out of the show due to contract disputes, Rita and Zedd get married, the Green Ranger and White Ranger fight in colonial Angel Grove, and Kimberly goes back in time and fights a Mexican stereotype cactus monster with the help of Wild West versions of her friends.  Writing this all out highlights how goofy the season was overall, but that's what I love about it. It wasn't overly serious like the first season, didn't have the budget of the third season, and it's the version of the OG series I remember most fondly. Still not great, but great by early Power Rangers standards for sure.  2. Power Rangers RPM Summary: After a computer virus creates an army of machines, the remnants of humanity retreat to the domed city of Corinth, where a team of Power Rangers is the last line of defense for everyone.  Intended to be the final season of the series, showrunners decided to go for broke and throw everything they had into creating a post-apocalyptic film for kids. Lifting creative elements from films like Mad Max and Terminator, then adding a Power Rangers layer helped give this season a vibe no other season had before. It was more creatively cemented than years past, and actually had good cinematography, which had made RPM look much different than its predecessors. It truly had a sense of finality and reverence that the series had only had once before.  What keeps it from the top however, is  that behind-the-scenes events (going over budget, shifting showrunners) led to problems toward the second half. Most problematical, one of its major plots aped a famous villain from many years before. This may not have mattered to most fans, but this one small flaw does keep it from the top spot in my eyes. But not by much.  1. Power Rangers In Space Summary: When an army of villains defeats the Power Rangers, the team escapes into space and gains a new set of powers before returning to Earth and laying the smackdown on errybody.  Like RPM, In Space was originally going to be the final season of the show, but it had such good ratings it basically saved the series. Going for broke, the production team decided to send it off with a space opera. A villainess fondly remembered for her multiplicity (which was huge for a kids show), the return of Adam for a guest-starring role in an episode as the Black Power Ranger, a set of evil Rangers that took multiple episodes to defeat, a Silver Ranger with a cool sword gun, and an actual end to the story started years before in Mighty Morphin episode one.  It featured a finale (which, admittedly, seems weak in retrospect when compared to the better written seasons of the later years) that not only captured Power Rangers at its best but also reflected the series' campy-yet-serious spirit. It had a scope no other kids show had at the time and truly set the series on the path it's on today. There you have it! Those are how every season of Power Rangers ranks among the others. If you're looking for particular episodes to watch, here are my favorites:  1. "Doctor K" -- Power Rangers RPM E11 2. "Countdown to Destruction" -- Power Rangers In Space E42-43  3. "Green With Evil" Mighty Morhpin Power Rangers S1 E17-21
Power Rangers Month photo
After 10,000 years and 831 episodes
It's been a weird twenty something years. Power Rangers has seen good days and bad days, both supreme bouts of popularity and near cancellation. Yet somehow, this series has survived so long that it's managed to get three dif...

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Oh...alright
Justice League is technically one of Flixist's Most Anticipated of 2017 out of morbid curiosity. After getting a glimpse at this first official trailer, I'm not really sure what to think. It seems it has a less dour tone than...

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Spider-Man

Check out these slick Spider-Man: Homecoming posters


Mar 25
// Nick Valdez
YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Spider-Man: Homecoming opens July 7th. 

Review: Power Rangers

Mar 23 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221258:43472:0[/embed] Power RangersDirector: Dean IsrealiteRelease Date: March 24, 2017Rated: PG-13 Power Rangers follows the well-known roots of the original TV series. Five teenagers -- Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (RJ Cyler), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin), and Trini (Becky G) -- stumble on five mysterious coins granting them superpowers. Upon discovering a spaceship deep underground along with a giant face-in-the-wall Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and robot Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), the teens learn they're the latest team of Power Rangers, colorful suited heroes who need to protect the Zeo Crystal from good-girl-gone-bad Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). The PG-13 rating and big screen budget affords the film some great updates to the original series' ideas, but at times also feels like a two hour fan film when the goofy series terminology (words like "morph" and the "Zeo Crystal," which will mean more to fans) is juxtaposed with the grounded world of the film.  Thankfully when I say "grounded," I actually mean a deeper look at characterization and themes inherent in the series and not "dark and gritty." You're not going to, say, see Zack shoot someone in the face but will definitely hear him make a masturbation joke. The risque' jokes and sultrier villain help carve out a much needed separate identity from the TV series, but these kinds of additions tend to make for a confusing film overall. It's hard to gauge exactly who the film is meant for when some of the jokes and situations may be a bit too complicated for the current intended fanbase (kids) yet it's not afraid to dive into hokey territory at times to make cede kids happy. There's also so much drastically different from the original production it'll alienate nostalgic curiosity. But in that same breath, Power Rangers often bends over backwards to include bits of unnecessary fan service to cater to old fans, undercutting its own footprint. So it ends up perceived as non-committal to either vision. No one is going to be truly happy with the film's tone.  While its tone may be at war with itself, Power Rangers absolutely nails the chemistry of the core five. Aided by the fact they're all relatively unknown (save for RJ Cyler and Becky G, who turn in the best performances of the group), these five carry the film through its rougher patches. Scenes that wouldn't work elsewhere or ebb the flow of plot, such as one where five teens sit around a campfire and share their biggest secrets without prompting, manage to land because the cast is so enjoyable to watch. The great focus on characterization allows each of them to find their groove in the film and give the Rangers a much needed personality. It's why you see their faces during the big Man of Steel/Transformers sequence (where the Megazord fights Goldar through Krispy Kreme Grove), too. As unique as Power Rangers' fights should be, they devolve into CG nonsense you'll find elsewhere. But the chemistry of the team I came to love by the end adds a much needed humanity and fun while teasing much better films (presumably) to come.  Elizabeth Banks' Rita is also truly remarkable. Finding the sweet spot between scenery chewing and serious, each of her scenes is a highlight. Banks helps to balance the sometimes overwrought seriousness of the Power Rangers' tone with her charismatic cheese. Bryan Cranston's Zordon is fine, but I'll give him credit for going full body make-up for the role. I find myself at war with my "fan" reaction to the film since I dig the layered characters (as Billy reveals he's on the Autism spectrum and one character hints at a potential homosexual identity), the original theme gets used once (it's poorly timed, but has a nostalgic angle fans would instantly recognize), and even the suits look nice when standing still (which is something I never thought I'd believe, really), but then there's a masturbation joke not five minutes in after a boring "gritty" title card once again revealing a clash of tones holding the film back. I suppose the project would have landed better had it a director who wasn't prone to much of the generic blockbuster film camera angles and quirks. Power Rangers' flow stutters as development often comes to complete standstills, but then moves to scenes where concepts are introduced pretty rapidly (and several poorly soundtracked montages). I know this is probably weird to say with as loud of a property as this, but I enjoyed the quiet moments of the film rather than when it played out like an expensive music video. The final battle has something, like, six track changes and that's only one example of the film never quite getting comfortable with itself save for a few brief scenes. Even if it's not comfortable with itself, that does not mean it escapes franchise building. There's no saving it from feeling like the first entry of a larger series rather than a single entity. Make no mistake, I have no delusions over the quality of the Power Rangers property. This was tough to adapt, I'm sure, and the end result is much better and worse than I had anticipated.  Much like Power Rangers, I too am confused. Although I didn't like a lot of its editing choices, and feel like it could've been trimmed for brevity, I want to see this cast in another film with all of the kinks ironed out. There's powerful potential here, you just have to sit through this one first. 
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Oh, I have a headache
More so than any of the reviews I've written, I feel I have to preface this one a bit. Since I (literally in some cases) hold the Power Rangers brand so close to my chest, I've been keeping a close eye on the reboot since the...

Every Sixth Power Ranger, Ranked

Mar 17 // Nick Valdez
19. Blue Senturion/Phantom Ranger -- Power Rangers Turbo Look at these goobs. Though never officially designated as sixth Rangers, both the Phantom Ranger and Blue Senturion fulfilled the role normally designated for the sixth. While Blue Senturion was introduced with a new set of powers and a zord, the Phantom Ranger was a mysterious guy that never got developed. There was apparently a planned plot to make him Zordon's son, but it fell through. It was probably because no one cared. Turbo was such a bad season overall, and it definitely suffered more with its terrible sixth Rangers.  18. Solaris Knight -- Power Rangers Mystic Force Look at this goob. One of Mystic Force's core issues were the numerous introductions to new characters without much follow through. One victim of this was the sixth addition, Solaris Knight. Debuting alongside some weird cat genie (which got its own special episode, one more than Solaris Knight had gotten), this was a Ranger that could've gone somewhere. Revealed to be the Red Ranger's long lost father, this guy used a lamp blaster gun and was just kind of an overall lamewad. He didn't have any of the majesty a legendary warlock Ranger required and just fell by the wayside after his introduction.  17. Mercury Ranger -- Power Rangers Operation Overdrive Look at this goob. Operation Overdrive had an entire team of goobs, but the one who stood out the most was the sixth addition Tyzonn. His story seemed interesting at first since he was a guy from another planet suffering from survivor's guilt after a team of rescue explorers he commanded had died on a mission. This was after he had been wandering around in a monster form for a few episodes too. But much like everything else that season, Tyzonn was an idea that went nowhere. He was latter shunted in favor of making him a weird dad always disciplining the rest of the team.  16. Gold Ranger -- Power Rangers Samurai What do you do when you cast a Thai actor for a Latinx character? Samurai seemed to think that meant turning him into a fisherman speaking in Tex-Mex. After being introduced by a flashback featuring the worst child acting in the entire series (which is saying a lot), Antonio came onto the scene spouting "fantastico" and using a fish blade. Admittedly he had a cool fighting style and was a shinier version of gold than seen in the past, but I'm sure this is one of those Rangers that made more sense in the Japanese version of the show. His dialogue was always annoying, but it is neat that he created his own zords...uh a squid and a lobster.  15. Gold Ranger -- Power Rangers Dino Charge  As you'll notice with a lot of these sixth Rangers, they all seem to be from another time or place. In Dino Charge, the Gold Ranger was Sir Ivan, a knight from some made-up country of Zandar. He was trapped in the body of one of the season's villains, Fury, until being freed during a big battle. But once his unique reveal was out of the way (he's the only sixth Ranger literally stuck inside of a monster instead of being one, being evil etc.) he was super boring. With his only quirk being occasional formal speech, his personality was bland. This wasn't helped at all by the eventual addition of four other Rangers to the team.  14. Robo Knight -- Power Rangers Megaforce Like much of Megaforce, Robo Knight didn't make any sense. Just as Turbo's Phantom Ranger and Blue Senturion weren't technically sixth Rangers, Robo Knight was this robot who apparently rested in the Earth for centuries until there was a threat to the environment. I mean, even if monsters had already attacked this guy didn't deem it necessary to intervene until some pollution mutants attacked. Once he was introduced, his whole schtick was being a robot who wanted to learn about human things (thus reading in the library seen above), but what's gotten him here over the others is that he eventually sacrifices himself to save the Rangers. But what knocks him back down is a revival a season later for no reason or explanation.  13. Ranger Operator Series Gold/Ranger Operator Series Silver -- Power Rangers RPM RPM was one of my favorite seasons of the series overall, but it also has some of the worst sixth Rangers ever. Twins Gem and Gemma were kids stuck in a laboratory developing young geniuses until the robot apocalypse destroys the place. Thought lost forever, the twins show up years later as the Gold and Silver Rangers. The had better suits and weapons than the rest of the team, but they finished each other's sentences when they spoke. It was this constant, annoying character trait that never ceased even as the series rolled on. The two didn't have time for character development either as they were introduced so close to RPM's endgame. Because of this, it's yet another idea that didn't quite fit the serious vibe of the season.  12. Lunar Wolf Ranger -- Power Rangers Wild Force Look at this goob. Like Dino Charge's Gold Ranger, Wild Force's sixth Ranger shared a body with a Wolf monster guy without knowing it. Also like most of the sixth additions, he was a warrior from another time who had silver streaks in his hair and really loved to play pool (loved it so much that his big super attack was pool related). On paper he sounds too goofy to work, and in practice this definitely rings true. But there's something about his goofiness that was just right for the series. Wild Force's season, overall, was this goofy message about environmental protection and the Red Ranger eventually went on to commit actual crime so it's a wash.  11. Super Megaforce Silver Ranger -- Power Rangers Super Megaforce In Super Megaforce, the team from Megaforce gained access to the powers of every past Ranger season and the sixth Ranger had all of the sixth powers. As a refugee from a war torn planet, Orion had all the makings of a good sixth Ranger. He had the most character growth out of anyone in the two seasons, but like a common complaint seen here he was just kind of boring after his introduction. Suffering from Super Megaforce's rapid pacing (and random episodes celebrating the anniversary), he rarely had any lines. Honestly, he made it this far up the list because his super mode included the goofily awesome shield seen above.  10. Green Samurai Ranger -- Power Rangers Ninja Storm Ninja Storm had a few problems, including how goofy their sixth Ranger eventually became, but this season absolutely nailed their sixth Ranger. Cam, son of the Ninjas' sensei and basically the Billy of the season (serving as the guy who provides tech and info), became the sixth Ranger after being sent back in time, learning a bit more about the Ninja code, and having a discussion with his deceased mother in order to gain confidence. It was a two-parter that was a highlight of the season overall. It felt like an earned, natural evolution of a character we'd seen since the first episode. The only thing knocking him back is his stupid baseball motif and electric guitar weapon.  9. Silver Ranger -- Power Rangers In Space Oh guess what? It's another guy from another world and time! After sustaining a severe injury, Andros (the Red Ranger of this season) seals Zhane a tube and waits two years for him to heal. Other than taking the boss ass suit from In Space and making it even cooler, this guy had a laser sword. There hadn't been enough laser swords in Power Rangers, oddly enough so this was a delight. Although his actor was bland, they actually gave Zhane a lot of personality. He was in a faux love triangle with Ashley and Andros, he had an on again, off again thing with the season's villain Astronema, he tricked the rest of the team into thinking he was dying, and he even dressed up as one of the Psycho Rangers in a creative way to beat one of them. After Turbo's lackluster sixth additions, it really helped to get a guy who actually did things.  8. White Dino Ranger -- Power Rangers Dino Thunder The first Ranger on this list to not come from another world or time. Trent was the son of the season's villain, Anton Mercer (who himself was a split personality of the actual villain of the season, Mesogog...long story), and gains Ranger powers when he stumbles on the White Dino Gem. Since Mesogog had given the gem evil influence or something, Trent's Ranger form is actually an evil Power Ranger that he can't control. After throwing around the team for a few episodes, he joins them in full (sound familiar?). But what's different about his introduction is the eventual cloning of his power, leading to a White Ranger vs. White Ranger fight (...sound familiar?). Trent was a bit of a lamewad that wanted to pursue art (...terrible art), and his evil self didn't really accomplish much when you boil it down. But at least he's a lot cooler than others on this list!  7. Shadow Ranger -- Power Rangers S.P.D. Doggie was the Chief of Space Patrol Delta who's wife was presumably killed by the season's villain. When he finally confronted the main villain, he was attacked by 100 monsters (eventually reflected by the cool "100" on his suit) and became the Shadow Ranger. He probably had the coolest suit of S.P.D. overall, and Doggie eventually landed the final critical blow during the season finale, but as we reach the higher ranks on the list he's been bumped down by some personal faves of mine.  6. Magna Defender -- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Magna Defender might not be considered a sixth Ranger by fans, but I've always considered him one. With two versions of the character (both badass), there was plenty to work with. The first Defender was a father avenging the death of his son (who was straight up killed on-screen), and the second was Leo (the Red Ranger)'s thought dead brother from the first episode, Mike. Using a sword (that also was a gun) to transform into a Knight looking guy, Defender was even able to grow and become his actual Megazord. He even sacrificed his powers to save the entire space colony toward season end, which was just another example of how selfless Mike was (as he both sacrificed himself to save his brother in the pilot, and refused to take the Red Ranger powers even if he was the rightful owner of them). He was also the first Ranger to have a cape in the series. Capes are cool.  5. Titanium Ranger -- Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue The Titanium Ranger may not be the coolest Ranger on this list (though try arguing an axe-gun isn't cool), but he cracks the top five by being unique. See, the rest of the Rangers on this list were a by-product of their parent Japanese versions. Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive, the series Lightspeed Rescue took its footage from, didn't have a sixth Ranger so the showrunners decided to make one for themselves. It's why his suit's so bulky in comparison to the others, and the only thing that kept him relevant to the story was a snake curse that threatened to kill him everyday in his dreams or something, but I'll give credit where it's due. Being an entirely American invention was a risk, but it's one that paid off. If he didn't show up, fans would have definitely questioned why there wasn't a traditional sixth member.  4. Gold Ranger -- Power Rangers Zeo Zeo kind of fudged the Gold Ranger's first introduction by laying out this mystery before revealing his identity as a goob who turned into three goobs (who know one knew, so it was a wash). But it definitely made up for it the second time around. After introducing several candidates who could've been a great Gold Ranger (Tommy's brother, Billy), and after keeping his identity hidden, his eventual reveal as Jason (the former Mighty Morphin Red Ranger) was one of the biggest surprises (and bits of fan service) the series had since Tommy's reveal as the White Ranger. Jason fit the series like a glove, and the character's history with Tommy eventually led to the great "King for a Day" two-parter which had the two fighting for the first time since their season one days, and had a cooler look than the rest of the team overall. What keeps him out of the top three, however, is the fact that the goob triplets have to come back and take the powers away because story reasons or something, I don't know.  3. White Ranger -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S2-S3 Well, at least one version of Tommy was going to get the top spot and it's definitely not the White Ranger. While he's cool and all (much cooler than a lot of the list by nature of his very existence), and he's the one thing taken from the Japanese series Gosei Sentai Dairanger from where MMPR season two got most of its footage from, Tommy doesn't really do much after his great introduction. His surprise reveal (coming down from a beam of white light in, uh, "White Light") after the loss of his Green Ranger power was a great moment, but he just became the de-facto leader of the team after the original Red Ranger was written out of the series. Despite his cool new theme and talking sword making him seem different, and fighting Lord Zedd to a standstill once, this was just Tommy all over again. To me it always felt like a downgrade from the Green Ranger power rather than the intended upgrade. I mean, just ask folks who remember the show. Do they say they want to be the White Ranger or the Green Ranger? It's always Green before White.  2. Quantum Ranger -- Power Rangers Time Force What? Tommy isn't both of the top spots? Well, no. Time Force was one of the best seasons of the series for its great villain, great Pink Ranger, great Red Ranger character arc, and notably, its sixth Ranger. In fact, the Quantum Ranger was so effective he was even brought back to a Red Ranger exclusive anniversary team up years later. As a rival to the richly born Wes (the Red Time Force Ranger), Eric was a poor kid who worked hard all of his life in order to prove he was just as good as the rich kids. Eventually growing to resent rich boys like Wes, he forced his way into Ranger powers by finding the Quantum Power first. Taking most things by force, he led a military team to attack the mutants (the baddies in Time Force), eventually gained control of the Q-Rex Megazord, and was more of an anti-hero through the season. Eventually he grew to be friendly with the others, even lending his Quantum Power to Wes toward the end of the season. On top of having a fantastic actor, Daniel Southworth, the Quantum Ranger was the first sixth member to have a full character arc since Tommy's in MMPR. With the added layer of not being mind controlled, or under some evil spell, Eric was just a guy who was so used to fighting for what he wanted he hated when others just seemed to get things handed to them.  1. Green Ranger -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S1 As it could be any other Ranger. The Green Ranger is important for a number of reasons. It started the sixth Ranger tradition (even for the Japanese Super Sentai, as he was the first over there too), the "Green With Evil" story line is one of the most fondly remembered by fans (both hardcore and nostalgic), Jason David Frank's see-ayaaaahs became a hallmark of the series (with JDF starring in five seasons over the course of the series) as he eventually became the face of it, and it was the first time I remember being engrossed by a TV series as a kid. Here was this evil guy with all of the powers of the good guys, only much cooler with a friggin' Dragon and better fighting skills, who went from bad guy to good guy over the course of a week.  I remember school feeling so long that week as I waited to see the next part of the epic story. No other Ranger (sixth or otherwise) has left that big of an impression. So big, in fact, folks are clamoring for his addition to the new movies. While I'm sure the Green Ranger will be added to the films, the new version will never be as cool as the original. 
Power Rangers Month photo
Rangering through the six with my woes
Through its 24 seasons or so of existence, Power Rangers has become a show with its own set of traditions. Each season of the show may change, but a lot of the core elements stay the same: a rocking theme, colored spandex, an...

Every Power Rangers Suit, Ranked

Mar 15 // Nick Valdez
21. Power Rangers Megaforce Originally touted as an anniversary season of the series, Megaforce has plenty of problems. Least/Most of which is the costume design. While these suits have some good ideas such as the helmet's mouthpiece reminiscent of Mighty Morphin' (which must've been a happy little coincidence for Saban), and I do like some of the gold highlights, everything else is a mess. The suit's way too busy to actually work. I'm sure the outfits make sense in the Japanese original, but why do their chest emblems have different designs? Why do all of their pants ride so high up as to give them uncomfortable looking front wedgies? It's like a weird military outfit without any of the context. Just goofy and bulky.  20. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive Like Megaforce, Operation Overdrive's suits are far too busy. There's some simplicity in the helmets (at least they have visors the suit actors can actually see out of), but there's so much to unpack at first glance. The motif this season was world adventuring (hence the compass insignia), but the helmets all reflect their vehicle zords so it gives them headlights like Turbo's ridiculous ones. Then add in the chrome shoulder plates, belts, and cufflinks and it's way too much. Not to mention the Silver Ranger's awful orange stripe and lavender shoulders which makes the entire team look worse each time he's near.  19. Power Rangers Turbo Speaking of Turbo, their helmets are the worst in the series. Replicating their vehicles gives them chrome and headlights coupled with tail lights (?) on their belts. The rest of the suit is fine, but you just can't take those helmets seriously. It was fine in a Japanese series parodying other Sentai shows, but didn't exactly work for a serious Power Rangers drama which included the team getting baked into a giant pizza.  18. Power Rangers RPM RPM was a fantastic send-off for the Disney owned seasons, but showrunners wanted their idea for a show, a post-apocalyptic thriller to somehow mesh with one of the goofier Japanese seasons, Engine Sentai Go-Onger. Fortunately it mostly works as there's a story reason behind the suit designs, but it always rubbed me a wrong way that these didn't reflect the story. They're not the worst suits, but they're by far from the best. Combining animals, cars, and everything else into their helmets, once again there's a lot going on. Doesn't help that the suits look baggy too without a true separation of tops and bottoms. The only thing which kind of works is the animal/number insignia since it does resemble flair soldiers are known to give their uniforms for morale. Otherwise, c'mon it's a mess.  17. Power Rangers Dino Charge I like a lot of the choices made with the Dino Charge suits, especially the slick helmets (which go full-visor when they're in the Megazord), but a major complaint I keep using once again rears its ugly head. There's just so much going on with these suits. It's indicative of the series as a whole (so many Rangers, zords, motifs), but just doesn't come together like the show does. A slick helmet juxtaposed with a bright tooth pattern, monochromatic pants and shoes, and grey-scaled sleeves? It aaaalmost works, but then you've got the random single shoulder pad and lose all sense of symmetry.  16. Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers I may appreciate simplicity in a design, but there's such a thing as too simplistic. There's a reason this entire season of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger was skipped over in favor of using the Mighty Morphin' suits for a third season. The design was used creatively (tweaking the "ninja" motif into an "alien" one), but that's only because of its stark contrast to the original suits. These are neat and uniform (more so than any other season). but they were too bare bones to work on their own. Which is why they're only around for a short time.  15. Power Rangers Zeo Zeo was a transition season for the series in a number of ways. New powers, new villains, new Command Center, colors were shuffled around (Tommy became the Red Ranger, Jason eventually became Gold), and the show started distancing itself from its original motifs. Gone are the spiritual animal and dinosaur powers, and replaced with full-on magic crystal powers. While I like the gold trim, I've never liked the suits overall. They seemed like a downgrade from the originals due to a general lack of white and the Yellow Ranger's loss of vision. But I did appreciate the shift away from the molded mouths. Instead of a grey standout, they're blended into the helmet. I also don't think I liked how everyone looked chunkier? I don't know, old school aesthetic I guess.  14. Power Rangers Jungle Fury Now these suits would crack the top ten if the Red and Blue Rangers had the same skirt as Yellow does. Skirts have always been a major problem for this series, and I don't really have the time or space to go into why they're a problem here, but Yellow's actually works the best. Like Purple and White, her suit most reflects a fighting gi which greatly suited this season's kung-fu movie theme. The White Rhino Ranger has my favorite design overall since he just looks like a kick-ass karate dude. That's never happened in the series before, and it still has yet to happen again. More blatant kick-ass karate folks please.  13. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy I feel like Lost Galaxy's suits were so middle-of-the-road, it deserved to be in the middle-of-the-list. I was always a huge fan of the helmet design, but hated the Charlie Brown stripes on their chest. This was another season in which the Rangers looked especially bulky, and they only looked worse following In Space's slimmed down and sleek design. I wish I had more to say, but honestly, these suits are boring though they don't look like they would be. 12. Power Rangers Dino Thunder Dino Thunder was Disney's attempt to wrangle in old fans of the series. Bringing Tommy in as a dope looking Black Ranger (not pictured here since I couldn't find one with a good enough quality) and an "evil" White Ranger with an also great design, the main trio was almost there. It's a simple aesthetic with the dino theme barely peeking through in the helmet, but from the neck down it's a little much. I'm a huge fan of the footprint insignia in the center, but these suits almost have too much white. The diamonds running down their arms and legs may serve a story and power purpose, but that doesn't mean I don't have to like them. But as we're getting closer to the top ten, I'm splitting hairs.  11. Power Rangers Ninja Steel It's only six episodes in, but I've been impressed by what Ninja Steel has offered thus far. Notably, the suits are fantastic. You've got the ninja sensibilities (done much better seasons before, but you'll see that soon), but since these ninjas don't really care about anything ninja-y the bold design on their sashes gives their insignia a bit of pop. It's simplicity masking outlandishness working especially well with the White Ranger and her pink outline.  10. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue Lightspeed Rescue was the first season of the series to have its team be a military force and it's look reflected that pretty damn well. A simple design shared between the entire team with only differentiating factors being visor and color. The white balance here works, unlike Dino Thunder, because it has a clear stopping point. It along with the crosses on their helmets reflect the rescue theme of the season and overall look good in motion too. This was a team where difference in appearance wasn't too necessary, yet felt like it was included to keep up the morale of the force like RPM.  9. Power Rangers Mystic Force Capes are cool, so I can't believe they've only been part of one season. A lot of things I thought would bother me at first glance actually works well in motion. There's a nice white/color balance as it's only relegated to the capes (and the women's white bottoms make them look like they're wearing tunics, which is a plus), the giant black and gold "M" is a great design choice that's totally not overpowering or super noticeable unless you really stare at it, and although the visors seems tough to see through there's an overall "grand" feeling in the design. It's kind of like what Megaforce wanted to accomplish but grandly failed at.  8. Power Rangers Super Megaforce Speaking of Megaforce, the second half of the series had one of the coolest costumes ever. I'm a big fan of this pirate look since it's so unique (with only small difference in visor design among them), and these looked really clean in motion. In fact, they even popped their collars during the Ranger roll-call and it was about as goofy as you'd expect. In a good way. However, since the pirate look was never capitalized on (or explained, really) these awesome suits were wasted. Not to mention that these are only powered-up versions of the Megaforce suits and not a full team of their own. If this look had been handled better, you could be damn sure it would've been in the top five.  7. Power Rangers Ninja Storm Although the Alien Rangers were technically ninjas, the first foray into a ninja ranger season was an impressive one. The first full season of the series to use a teal color for the Blue Ranger, a simple but expressive helmet design, and darker colors for the two Thunder Rangers really left an impression on me. The visors also opened in a cool way; only revealing part of the face when they were speaking to each other. Since we're getting into the nitty gritty of the list, I will say these suits were eeked out by some that did a liiiittle bit more. Especially considering how all of this awesome simplicity was tossed out the window in favor of the Green Samurai Ranger's obnoxious look.  6. Power Rangers Wild Force Wild Force is the only season of the series so far that comes closest to the first season in suit design. The gaudy, but slightly subdued helmets are a natural evolution of the dino helmets, except here more teeth come down over the visors. The shark helmet is a standout, and I'm very fond of the White Ranger's pink stripe highlighting her skirt. The one thing I'm not a fan of, however, is the huge gold strap on their chests. It's a little much coupled with the insignia, and its asymmetrical placement definitely throws off the look. The belt buckle also takes up too much real estate and makes the waist seem unnecessarily heavy.  5. Power Rangers S.P.D. S.P.D. was one of my favorite seasons for a number of reasons, and a great deal of it had to do with the look. While the visors are a bit too stretched across the helmet for my liking, everything from the neck down absolutely works. The asymmetrical design actually makes sense here (with one side reserved for their police badges and labels and whatnot) and their number leading to an all-black arm is so damn cool looking. The series has never made this kind of design choice before, so it really sticks out from the other seasons. It's uniform, yet flashy.  4. Power Rangers Time Force Time Force was another favorite of mine. Combining the simplicity I love, with the gaudy look of the original, the Time Force suits were a great uniform for the team. I'm not sure how any of the suit actors actually saw thing out of the colored visors, but I didn't care. These suits are great and the visors (meant to resemble clock hands) are an inspired choice. The only thing I never really liked was the Quantum Ranger's closely resembling Red, but it made sense story wise (a company developed their own Ranger tech based on Time Force). I think limited the white to the should up is what makes it work overall. It was fluid to see in action.  3. Power Rangers Samurai It's a shame such a great suit design ended on such a trash season. The unique samurai look (as the black straps on their chests resemble robes) is fantastic from head to toe. White is only used as a highlighter, the black bottoms makes a lot of sense as the fighting style is top heavy (there weren't kicks this season so subduing their color was smart), and the kanji visors are inspired. Even looking great during the morphing sequence as the kanji laid on their faces. Since I'm splitting hairs this high up on the list, the only reason it's in the third spot is because the Red Ranger looks like a bug.  2. Power Rangers In Space As the final season of the Zordon-era, In Space had a lot going for it. A space opera with layered villains, evil rangers, and fantastic suits.  Although the Japanese original had nothing to do with space, it helped that the suits all look like space suits. Stripping down the excess, the helmets are absolutely perfect (even adding in a tech holographic during the morphing sequence). There's personality in how different these looked from what came before, and still have yet to be matched sense. It truly signified how different of a story this season was telling. The only thing keeping these out of the top spot are the colored squares across their chests. It's an acquired taste.  1. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Like it could be anything else. The suits are one distinct reason the Power Rangers branded visuals have managed to stick around in pop culture for so long. Although the diamonds make them look like clowns, these suits set the tone for everything else to come. These suits help set the mythos of the series (colored spandex, crazy helmet design, a uniform yet differing look) and they still sort-of look good after all of these years. Not great. but good. That's not something you can say about the rest of the suits on this list. 
Power Rangers Month photo
Power stylin'
As I've learned watching through 831 episodes of Power Rangers for two thirds of my life, a Ranger is only as good as their suit. A suit design can make or break a series through first impressions, and bad designs have indeed...

Every Power Rangers Theme Song, Ranked

Mar 10 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221220:43333:0[/embed] 20. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive (2007) Back when Disney owned the rights to Power Rangers, they made quite a bit of changes in order to reinvent it for their network. Punches and kicks were replaced by more lasers, explosions allegedly couldn't occur in front of the Rangers themselves, and they wanted to do a rap theme for some time. Unfortunately for all of us, their idea of rap was total garbage.  Highlighting the worst season of Power Rangers is faux-techno rap babble with the lyrics "There's treasures to be found, there's some lives to be saved, our planet to look after, there's a whole lot of space!" There's a whole lot of something, all right.  [embed]221220:43334:0[/embed] 19. Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers (1996)  I wasn't originally going to count this, as the Alien Rangers arc is the capper of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' final season and it's merely a copy of the OG theme with "alien rangers" in the lyrics, but you'll see in the next couple of entries this theme has a bit more effort in it than others.  I'm giving it credit for merely existing when it didn't need to. We didn't need a new theme, but it was nice to hear something different in preparation for the major reboot the series would go through a season later.  [embed]221220:43335:0[/embed] 18. Power Rangers Samurai (2011) / Power Rangers Super Samurai (2012) When Saban re-acquired the rights to Power Rangers (which fans have dubbed the "Neo-Saban"-era), they chose to reintroduce the series to kids on Nickelodeon with a remix of the show's original theme with the additional lyrics, "Rangers Together, Samurai Forever." But unlike the Alien Rangers theme, this remix is weak. I get the need to reintroduce the series' mythos to a new generation, but Saban missed the chance to highlight the show's obviously Japanese influences.  It's reflective of Saban's growing pains over the next few seasons that'll only get worse. Even worse is having the characters shout their names during the title sequence, treating kids like little idiots.  [embed]221220:43336:0[/embed] 17. Power Rangers Megaforce (2013) / Power Rangers Super Megaforce (2014) Megaforce was a worse season than Samurai in a lot of ways. Chiefly it's biggest disappointment was in how lazy of a show it was. It's exactly the same theme, complete with characters shouting their names during the credits, but it's just slightly better thanks to the first couple of seconds. With a season as lazy as this was, take what you can get.  [embed]221220:43337:0[/embed] 16. Power Rangers Mystic Force (2006) Just as Operation Overdrive somehow needed a rap in its theme song, Mystic Force was the first attempt at it. It's not a full-on trash rap, nor is it just a retread, but it's not an accomplishment by any means. This season was weak for a number of reasons, but the theme should've been the first indicator of its overall terribleness. [embed]221220:43354:0[/embed] 15. Power Rangers Jungle Fury (2008) Remember the band Metro Station? What about 3OH!3? Well, if either or those bands wrote a Power Rangers theme song it'd be whatever the hell this song is. Taking advantage of the faux-emo wave at the time is this piece of work which in no way suited a cool season of kung-fu Rangers.  Jungle Fury had a lot of great things going for it, but I could imagine this theme song turning kids away. It's just way too in your face with its awfulness.  [embed]221220:43338:0[/embed] 14. Power Rangers RPM (2009) Originally intended to be the final season of the series, as Disney got tired of spending money on it, RPM was a surprisingly mature story of the last bits of humanity fighting against machine apocalypse. Borrowing imagery from films like Mad Max and Terminator, this series was as awesome as Power Rangers has ever gotten...but the theme didn't tell you any of that. Other than some techno mess in the middle of it, this theme was a little too generic. All it's got to offer are a few "Power Rangers RPM, get in gear!" thrown in every now and again, and it's a letdown for what's arguably the best season of the series.  But it's not a rap song, so there's that.  [embed]221220:43341:0[/embed] 13. Power Rangers Wild Force (2002) Wild Force was basically a Power Rangers version of Captain Planet, as the Rangers fought against pollution and what not, so a boring season unfortunately got an equally boring theme song. There's nothing technically wrong with the song, it's just a little too loud and busy to really hit home. Accompanying animal roars, a tone that's constantly aggressive, with nothing sticking out to make it unique. The best seasons (as you'll read in a bit) have themes with distinguishing, memorable characteristics. Don't expect anyone to remember this.  [embed]221220:43340:0[/embed] 12. Power Rangers Ninja Storm (2003)  Ninja Storm's opening theme is about as forgettable as Wild Force's, but what makes it win over in the end is how unique it is. Matching its series' tone of extreme sports loving ninja masters is a chill rock song that helps play up the "Storm" in the series title. There still has yet to be a theme like it.  [embed]221220:43342:0[/embed] 11. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (1999) Since Lost Galaxy was the first self-contained season of the series, not continuing the story started in MMPR, it needed a theme that sounded wholly different than what had come before. And it got that...for the first thirty seconds or so. As the first opening theme of the series not composed by Ron Wasserman (who's credits include MMPR through In Space and the Mummies Alive! opening theme), it's different enough to stand out yet feels similar enough to themes before. But after the great "ahhhhhhhh," it starts feeling repetitive. Granted all of these themes are repetitive, but this one really lets down its grandiose beginning.  [embed]221220:43343:0[/embed] 10.  Power Rangers Ninja Steel (2017) Since this season just premiered it might be a bit too soon to have the opening theme crack the top ten, but it's pretty dang good. It's the opening few seconds that really drive the point home. While I'm not sure if the series will live up to the Asian influences the theme presents, it already seems much different than seasons before. Coupled with a remix of the original theme (in order to keep building the mythos, as mentioned) thrown in for good measure, and I'm pretty stricken with it.  [embed]221220:43344:0[/embed] 9. Power Rangers Turbo (1997) As the only season of the series to premiere with a movie, Turbo didn't have to do much. The season itself had a ton of problems, but its theme has the best final seconds of any season. While the full version of this theme breaches hilariously bad territory (complete with a car starting up for the first 20 seconds), the show's 30 second cut was amazing. It's surprising the series never returned to 30 second themes, but it at least helped Turbo.  [embed]221220:43346:0[/embed] 8. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (2000) I don't know why, but Lightspeed Rescue has the one theme I found myself singing the most as a kid. Like Lost Galaxy, the second half doesn't have as much to offer as the first but I prefer the lyrics here than in most of the other themes. It's goofy, but in a series about an emergency rescue team of Rangers, the lyrics "the signal is calling, our planet is falling, the danger will test you, better make it Lightspeed Rescue!" are just hype.  [embed]221220:43345:0[/embed] 7. Power Rangers Zeo (1996) Zeo marked a lot of first for the series. It was the first reboot, it was the first time the Rangers had wholly new suits and powers, and it was the first real season to change the theme. Thankfully, it delivered on everything it was supposed to. With lyrics like "stronger than before" and "powered up for more," mixed it with the standard "Go Go Power Rangers!" you really got the idea that these new powers were different, better maybe.  [embed]221220:43347:0[/embed] 6. Power Rangers Dino Charge (2015) / Power Rangers Dino Super Charge (2016) Speaking of remixes, Saban wouldn't get it right until much much later with Dino Charge. The first good season of the Neo-Saban era, Dino Charge burst out of the gate with a theme sounding like an original until it reminded you that it's a remix of the original song. If Power Rangers could've been reintroduced with this series, this opening theme, than it be a much bigger hit for Nickelodeon than it is now. There's something about dinosaur themes that really makes Power Rangers pop.  [embed]221220:43350:0[/embed] 5. Power Rangers In Space (1998) Just as how RPM was intended to be the final season of the series years later, In Space was initially planned to be the final season before doing well enough in the ratings thanks to its space opera narrative. This theme may have an atonal quality to its lyrics, but the opening countdown has always set it apart in my mind. As the final theme (at the time) composed by Ron Wasserman, it has a ton going for it. The final half, while admittedly as repetitive as other themes on this list, is too hype to pass up. I think the "go go go fly!" always does me in, haha.  [embed]221220:43352:0[/embed] 4. Power Rangers Time Force (2001)  Time Force was a much better season than it got credit for. It was right around the time less kids paid attention to it as we were all starting to grow out of waking up early on Saturdays, but it had so much good in it. The actors were all great (most of them having had experience in film and TV beforehand, which is sadly notable for this series), the premise was great (time patrollers fighting mutants), and it had a memorable theme song. The guitar solo here was the best in a long time and it's better than a lot that came after it. Just like how In Space has a line that does me in, here it's "timeless wonders, fire and thunder, all to save the world." It's goofy when written out, but trust me on this.  [embed]221220:43351:0[/embed] 3. Power Rangers Dino Thunder (2004) As I'm sure you've guessed, Power Rangers has gone through tons of reinventions and new beginnings in order to keep kids entertained. Disney bought the rights to the series mid-Wild Force, but it wasn't until after Ninja Storm that Disney had their own take on the series. To go along with another dinosaur themed team of Rangers, the series also tried to bring back old fans with Jason David Frank, an evil Ranger storyline, and most importantly, a kick-ass rock theme song. This theme is probably the closest to an actual "song" in the entire series, and it's the one theme that's most fit for a sing along. With the strongest lyrics of the entire series, this theme song is only beaten by musical greats. [embed]221220:43349:0[/embed] 2. Power Rangers S.P.D. (2005) Although Ron Wasserman composed a few demos during the Disney era, only one of them really made it to the actual show. Thankfully, it was the best one. The only theme on this list to highlight percussion rather than guitar riffs made it stand out for a number of reasons. It's entirely strong throughout with a kick-ass opening and a final ten seconds which elevate it over the other seasons' themes. It'd be the best overall if not for the final entry on this list.  [embed]221220:43353:0[/embed] 1. Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1993-1995) C'mon, like I was going to put something else here. I'd be lying to myself, and you, if I didn't pay tribute to the original. It's the theme everyone remembers for a reason. With a harder rock composition than kids deserved, it treated this new series with an awesome reverence that would sadly never get matched again.   They just don't make theme songs like this for kids anymore. 
Power Rangers Themes photo
Go Go
[Editor's Note: This feature has been re-posted in honor of Power Rangers Month on Flixist] Pop culture is full of different kinds of media, but the ones with the most lasting power all do a very important thing: build mythos...

BADaptation: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie

Mar 09 // Nick Valdez
[embed]215186:39856:0[/embed] Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The MovieDirector: Bryan SpicerRating: PGRelease Date: June 30, 1995 I'd like to clarify a few things before I get started. This article isn't a review of some kind where I'll point out whether MMPR:TM is a good or bad film (although a good deal of us can agree and which end of the spectrum it lies). I'm going to focus on why it's a bad adaptation of the original TV show, and how it's "badness" affects the property overall. Also, I'm very aware that the TV show itself uses Japanese blah blah blah (although I didn't learn about it until I saw an episode of VH1's I Love the 90s), but that doesn't matter here either since I'm going to reference the show as the standalone version it's meant to be. Okay now since that's out of the way, we can get to the good stuff.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a Saturday morning TV show on FOX Kids (then later weekdays) about five "teenagers with attitude" picked by a giant floating head named Zordon to fight the recently awakened Rita Repulsa (and later Lord Zedd). To fight this evil, they're given the powers of dinosaurs and were able to transform into five/six colored heroes. MMPR: The Movie however, greatly changes this formula. In the film, the six teenagers instead have to fight a new villain, Ivan Ooze (the amazing Paul Freeman!), but instead are launched to an alien planet in order to gain the "ancient powers of Ninjeti" (or ninja skills to pay the bills) and save Zordon, who has now been reduced from a floating head to a dying man.  One of MMPR:TM's (which I'm going to refer to as The Movie from now on to save time) first inherent issues is that it has to take a story from a 23 minute an episode series and expand it to fit at least a 90 minute film. And to fix the problem, The Movie's solution is to just tell a standalone story all together. While this all well and good, since not every adaptation needs to rely on the original's material to succeed, it's a little disheartening when you realize that the show's wide array of available, expandable stories weren't deemed worthy enough to get a bigger screen, wider audience version. By taking only key elements of the original, it's hard to see how The Movie is an adaptation at all.  But sadly it is. The Movie needs to be an adaptation to work since it apparently wants to be a companion piece to the show. It assumes the audience has an established familiarity with the franchise and eschews traditional character introduction. It boils down the "teenagers with attitude" to "teenagers who participate in extreme sports," there's no origin story (the Power Rangers are already Power Rangers), and lots of information and terminology are thrown around without real weight given to anything. And on top of this is the original story which introduces brand new characters to the franchise (Ivan Ooze, that pig thing, the Tengu warriors, and Dulcea) and treats them (with the exception of Ivan Ooze) like they've been a part of the series forever. I'm sure this must have been confusing as all get out for the poor parents (mine, of course) who were dragged by their kids to see this.  And if the new content is delivered in a confusing manner and not tied to show in any fashion, how important is that new content? The greatest thing about the Power Rangers television series is that despite the goofy look of everything and quirky dialogue exchanges, everything is given importance and weight while still tinged with humor. Every fight in the series is for the fate of the Earth and those five kids seem like underdogs who eventually overcome great odds. With The Movie's larger budget (which means mo' money mo' problems), the teens get new suits with all sorts of fancy gadgets like headlights and infrared vision, different weapons like tasers, and are now suddenly able to perform all sorts of fancy acrobatics and wire work. Even when they lose their powers for a bit (spoilers?) and become awesome ninjas, there doesn't seem to be a big difference between their powerless selves and powerful selves. These Power Rangers are unrecognizable.  So now we have an adaptation, that's not a true adaptation, full of unrecognizable characters. Were there any positives? Did The Movie manage to adapt anything well? Well...yes and no. For some reason when The Movie adapts a factor of the original series well, it somehow makes the adaptive material look more ridiculous than it should. For one, the series and film take place in the city of Angel Grove and answers a question I had for a long time. Where are all the people? With the extra run time and money available to The Movie, Angel Grove is full of people that do things. In the show, there's no room for normal people problems when there's giant robots to be had. But in giving the citizens something to do (and for having them exist in the first place), it makes the Power Rangers look like terrible heroes. In the film they're so wrapped up in defeating Ooze and saving Zordon, the citizens of Angel Grove nearly jump off a cliff. They're only lucky some random kid stuck his nose into their business.  Another great choice The Movie makes which hurts the TV show is giving the film a great standalone villain. Since the film's budget could afford a great actor like Paul Freeman (Dr. Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark), it unfortunately makes the TV show's villains seem more ridiculous than they purport to be. Freeman is great as Ooze. He hams up the screen, and his performance lies somewhere between perfect in tone and borderline ridiculous. And CG animating the giant robot fight at the end seems like a good decision, but it just takes what supposed to be a great event and turns it into a huge joke. The Power Rangers' new Megazord is now just some weird robot with no face (but still has a conspicuous blonde mustache) who crotch kicks to win.  All in all, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie was perfect to me at the time. As a kid, I was so enamored with the premise I had no idea The Movie actually takes the original's material and tries to turn it into some sort of epic story that doesn't work. There's an air of seriousness about the film (but without the accepted ridiculousness the TV show brings) which sort of takes the soul out of Power Rangers. Sure the goofy humor and all the characters you love and recongnize are still present, but they're not themselves.  Oh I almost forgot something. What kind of Power Rangers movie doesn't feature the ridiculawesome rawkin' theme song for more than thirty seconds? For all of the reasons above, my friends, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is...a BADaptation. 
Power Rangers BADaptation photo
It's Morphin' Time...apparently
[Editor's Note: This feature was written four (!) years ago in anticipation of a rumored Power Rangers reboot. It has been re-posted for Power Rangers Month.] I knew as soon as I joined the Flixist staff that one day I would ...

How To Do It: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Reboot

Mar 03 // Nick Valdez
1. Start over from the beginning. In the press release, the new film is classified as a "re-imagining" of the old show. This makes perfect sense given most of the audience of the first couple of seasons have now grown up and are willing to thrown down major cash on a nostalgic property. The problem with this is, those same people have too fond memories of the show. They've built it up to some pedestal, so any new film is already needing to prove itself. What most of you all out there need to remember is, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is really, really bad. Bad dialogue, bad acting, and some of the most 90s situations you'll find on children's television.  But that's also not a bad thing. If we go into this new movie with an open mind, and the new film starts over from the beginning,  then we're in for a good time. So to be successful, the reboot needs to use the bankable names of the original five (maybe six) "teenagers with attitude" (Zack, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, Jason) because those are the names we'll remember. Most old fans won't remember who played those characters, so it's not important to bring the actors back, but we will remember the names. Start over from the beginning, tell the same simple origin story (teenagers are chosen by a floating space man to fight monsters), and we're golden. No need to reinvent the wheel.  2. Don't bring back old actors from the show.  When movie studios "reimagine" properties, they cast an entirely new set of people to play the characters we all know and love. That's going to be the case here. In order to completely separate itself (and thus create a new universe of movies), keep the television actors away. For example, Jason David Frank (who played Tommy in over 242 episodes of Power Rangers, and is arguably the most popular actor in the series) is already lobbying his fans to write to "lion gates" in order to get in the new movie. If they have to bring him (or anyone) back, and chances are they will, make sure it's only in a cameo capacity. Maybe have Tommy run the juice bar (like in the Wild Force episode, "Forever Red"), pass the torch to the new kids, and then disappear forever. As much as we might like the guy, seeing a thirty year old man run over in a tight spandex suit for a kid's show (like he is in the upcoming Power Rangers Super Megaforce finale) is kind of sad. Besides, the new kids watching this movie won't really know or care who Jason David Frank or any of these older actors are.  3. Use actors who can believably do their own stunts (and real suits!) One of the reasons Power Rangers became such a hit was because it delivered on things we've never had before. Although the acting and dialogue were bad, it had great action. It had cartoon action brought to real life, and it was pretty f**king cool. The series also still has some of the best fight choreography around. It's important to bring that back. Can you imagine what the fight effects could look like with a larger budget? Remember what the fights looked like in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie? Never mind, those were terrible. But a bigger budget could lead to bigger things. It's simple. Keep the suits real, but CG everything else. Like any other superhero, it's all about tangibility.  And that comes from the actors too. In the show, the teens would still kick butt out of the suits. Story wise, it shows the audience the effect of the power coins, and quality wise, it helps the audience attach the person to the hero. It's very important for us to remember who's in the suits. It's not enough for people to put them on, we have to believe people are in them.  4. Have a good villain.  Whether the new film goes with Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd or even Ivan Ooze, it's important to have a memorable bad guy. Once again, don't reinvent the wheel. Don't create a new, generic villain for the film unless the right person is behind it (Paul Freeman was the only reason Ivan Ooze worked in the movie), and there's plenty of material to draw from so there's no reason to create a new one anyway. If I could have it my way, I'd go for Rita Repulsa. She's the greater villain since she posed a threat, her powers led to the "Green With Evil" storyline which introduced a sixth ranger, and she has some of the best catchphrases ("You're giving me a headache!" "Magic wand, make my monster grow!").  If they went that route, they could introduce Lord Zedd for the sequel (just don't make him overtly dark or scary, remember it's for kids!), lead in to their wedding, Serpentera, and the possible stories are endless. All I'm saying is the material is there, so Lionsgate would be wise to use it.  5. Do it for the kids.  This is hardest thing to say, but this new movie isn't going to be for me or you, it's for the kids. Although the name is there to get butts to the seats, Saban's probably trying to make this work into a children's franchise. It's going to be an all ages affair, so don't expect a dark and gritty take on these heroes. No blood, no adult situations, and the word "kill" will be replaced with "destroy." But that's the way it's always been, and it's always worked, so no reason to be worried about that now.  As long as the new movie gets the tone right. That's actually the most important thing on this list. Please don't take this movie seriously as nothing about the Power Rangers is serious. And even when the show decides to lean toward heavier subjects, it's only because they're destroying all of the current zords to introduce a new line of zords/toys to kids.  6. Don't forget to have fun.  With the rising amount of gritty reboots these days (just look at Man of Steel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, and Transformers), I'm a little worried about how this'll turn out. Power Rangers has survived all these years despite its bevy of bad decisions because it's so lovably goofy. It's always so sincere about its laughably bad puns, heavy handed messages of protecting the environment and teamwork, and telling its stories with a half baked seriousness. Although every week a new monster threatens to destroy the world, there's still time to ride dirt bikes as part of the high school dirt bike club or something. It just all meshes together in a tone that works for everyone.  There's action, comedy, giant robots punching other giant things in the face, and lots of attractive men and women. If the new movie gets even one of those right, that'll be morphinominal. 
HTDI: Power Rangers photo
There's a wrong way, and there's a Morphinominal way
The Power Rangers series is an odd one. It started out as one of Saban Entertainment's many attempts to re-dub a Japanese kids show for American audiences and turned into a juggernaut spanning 21 seasons, comics, videogames, ...

Review: Logan

Mar 03 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221303:43419:0[/embed] LoganDirector: James MangoldRelease Date: March 3, 2017Rating: R  Logan is both a sequel to 2013's The Wolverine and a ending to the entire X-Men franchise. In the far-ish future of 2029, we find Logan (Hugh Jackman) making his way across El Paso, driving a limo for money. It turns out mutants have essentially gone extinct, and he is only doing odd jobs in order to take care of the now dementia-suffering Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who's loss of control over his mind has made him a threat. But one day he's approached by a woman accompanied by a silent girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) who needs help getting to the Canadian border and some place they call an "Eden for mutants." Begrudgingly accepting the task when he sees Laura shares a few similarities with him, revelations come to light as Logan has to come to terms with the man he's become. Logan is dramatically different than the rest of the X-Men films, and that's notably due to its R rating.  While I was initially afraid Deadpool's R rated success would mean Logan was full of extraneous foul language and violence (but without the cheekiness), what is present feels incredibly natural. Like we're actually seeing Wolverine for who he is for the first time, making every other performance seem neutered in comparison. This Logan is older, broken, and incredibly violent. He brutalizes enemies, but it's never portrayed as monstrous as his attacks could be because Jackman fills the role with a much needed humanity. The film always makes a point to note that he never initiates the attacks (unlike the brash Logan seen in, say, the first X-Men). The added caveat of slowly losing his healing abilities also grounds this comic book film in an unprecedented way. For all intents and purposes, Logan is a lonely, introspective character drama. While the character work admittedly will be more effective if you've seen some of the other X-Men films (at least the first one to explain some of the world's elements), it's not completely necessary. The film opens with a scene heartily establishing everything you need to know about this character, and I'll go as far to say it's the best opening scene in the franchise to date.  Logan is full of outstanding performances. While some kitchy turns from Boyd Holbrook's Pierce (a mysterious guy in sunglasses who's chasing after Laura, but Logan's not about that so mentioning his role in the story seems unnecessary), Stephen Merchant's Caliban, and a villain revealed later in the film tend to remind you it's a comic book film, the three central cast members anchor Logan's harsh reality. Hugh Jackman, drawing on his years of experience with the character, puts forth a stellar performance. As mentioned earlier, with the amenities afforded by the film's R rating, Jackman's performance rings more palpable than ever. Like this is the character he's wanted to portray since he signed on to these films all those years ago. His rapport with the sickly Charles is one of the best features in the film as he and Patrick Stewart have developed a mentor/pupil-father/son relationship over the years. Or at least ably portrayed as such. Then there's the young Dafne Keen, who's Laura is defined entirely through her physicality and manages to carve a distinct presence between the two.  Now Logan isn't perfect. One of the film's overlying themes of fighting one's past becomes a little too literal, the tone is so well established the encroaching X-Men talk feels out of place, and some of the dialogue unfortunately I felt I had to forgive under the "comic book film" qualifier, but thinking back on it, these issues didn't bother me as much as I thought they would have. Logan's imperfections lend credibility to the central character's imperfections. The film's problems mirror Logan's distraught sense of self. Is he the colorful hero of years past? Is he the beaten down man who's lost his sense of purpose after years of struggle? There's a distinct push and pull between the two tones as they blend into something not seen before in the genre. In fact, it seems, dare I say realistic?  Above all else, Logan is a film of consequence. It's the first comic book film weighted with actual drama and character work. There's an overwhelming sense of finality and dread permeating throughout making every one of Logan's struggles more tense than the last. If you've followed Wolverine through every one of his adventures, you're sure to be satisfied with Logan. If you haven't, there's still enough tactile emotion here seeping through Logan's ever-worsening wounds to draw you in even slightly.  I don't need to see another X-Men film, or another comic book film ever again. Thanks to Logan, they've become irrelevant. 
Logan Review photo
Brutal, harsh, and absolutely glorious
(This is a republishing of the original review, which posted two weeks ago.) Logan is a response to a litany of unprecedented events. Comic book films are more popular than ever, the X-Men series is still a via...


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