Mini Reviews (April 2017)
The Discovery, Power Rangers
The Discovery (April 11/17)
An intriguing setup in search of a compelling narrative, The Discovery follows Jason Segel's Will as he travels home to confront his father (Robert Redford's Thomas) about a radical theory that seemingly confirms the existence of an afterlife. Filmmaker Charlie McDowell delivers an admittedly potent opening stretch that holds plenty of promise, as the movie kicks off with an engrossing sequence involving an unexpected suicide - with the meet-cute between Will and a mysterious figure (Rooney Mara's Isla) that follows certainly perpetuating the movie's auspicious atmosphere. It's disappointing to note, then, that The Discovery segues into a fairly stale and tedious midsection set at Thomas' seaside compound, with scripters McDowell and Justin Lader offering up a hackneyed cult-drama narrative that's compounded by an almost unreasonably deliberate pace. (Exacerbating the less-than-engaging atmosphere is a disappointingly ineffective Segel performance, with the actor hitting a single, morose note from start to finish.) And while the film benefits from an admittedly decent twist at around the halfway mark, The Discovery's meandering momentum ensures that its positive attributes are ultimately rendered moot. It's a vibe that's undoubtedly confirmed by a final reveal that's more underwhelming than anything else, with the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-like climax simply unable to pack the heartbreakingly emotional punch that McDowell has surely intended - which is too bad, really, given the somewhat massive potential afforded by the film's eye-catching logline.
Power Rangers (April 22/17)
An especially tedious reboot, Power Rangers follows five random teenagers (Dacre Montgomery's Jason, Naomi Scott's Kimberly, RJ Cyler's Billy, Ludi Lin's Zack, and Becky G.'s Trini) as they're infused with super powers after an encounter with an alien ship - with the movie detailing the fivesome's ongoing efforts at harnessing their new abilities and their eventual battle against a psychotic otherworldly villain (Elizabeth Banks' Rita Repulsa). It's worth noting that Power Rangers, before it morphs into a seriously tedious piece of work, boasts a fairly promising atmosphere in its early goings, as filmmaker Dean Israelite delivers a stylish and fast-paced opening stretch that effectively allays the familiarity of the narrative's origin-story vibe. There's little doubt, however, that the progressively meandering midsection slowly-but-surely drains one's interest and enthusiasm, with the heavy emphasis on the title characters' investigation into (and training with) their powers lending the proceedings a by-the-numbers and thoroughly repetitive feel. (It doesn't help, certainly, that the movie's been saddled with a ludicrously overlong running time of 124 minutes.) John Gatins' wheel-spinning screenplay, which even contains an eye-rollingly needless fake-out death, paves the way for an almost astonishingly ineffective third act, with the decision to stress aggressively (and incoherently) over-the-top action ensuring that Power Rangers ends on as anticlimactic a note as one could possibly envision - which undoubtedly does confirm the film's place as a hopelessly misguided endeavor with few positive attributes.