Movie reviews from the UP staff

The University Press staff members have seen the movies, bought the popcorn and now they’re sharing their reviews with readers.


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Kong: Skull Island

A British actor and a black actor walked onto a Hollywood set and created a Monkey movie masterpiece. “Kong: Skull Island” is the newest remake of the old movie about a 50-story tall ape who destroys New York city. The only thing that could sedate his rage was a beautiful woman. Yet, that doesn’t happen in this movie.

In this reimagining, Kong lives on Skull Island, which kills any inhabitants who get too close, much like the Bermuda Triangle. It begins with a young Asian soldier and a young Caucasian soldier fighting each other in World War II after their planes landed on a mysterious island. They tussle on a cliff until a monster larger than life shows up.

Flash forward to the 1970s during the Vietnam War with John Goodman’s character, geologist Bill Randa, and Corey Hawkins’ character, surveyor Houston Brooks, convincing the U.S. government to take them to an unknown island that they found on a radar scanning. This changes to Samuel Jackson’s character Preston Packard and his unit of soldiers ready to go back home after the war has been declared over. Instead of this, they become military escorts to Randa and his survey team.

To round out the group is an ex-British Special Air Service captain, Tom Hiddleston’s character James Conrad and a photojournalist, Brie Larson’s character Mason Weaver. Everyone except for Randa was surprised to see a large ape who attacks them after they drop bombs from multiple vantage points on the island. In a panic to stay alive from the viscous monkey, the group becomes split into two. Randa and Packard soon go head to head with Packard interrogating Randa and the latter admitting he knew about the beast this whole time. Now no one could say he was crazy for believing in things people haven’t seen.

In the rare luck of things, the second group consisting of Conrad, Weaver and a few others run across a group of indigenous people who worship Kong as their god because he is the last of his kind who can stop the “skullcrawlers,” a large vicious species of lizards that only eat flesh. There they meet John C. Reilly’s character Hank Marlow, a U.S. pilot that’s been missing since the 1940s. He helps them get off the island with his river boat that he converted from his plane. But not before they help Kong kill the momma skullcrawler and they realize that he isn’t as beastly as they believed.

Kong: Skull Island was surprisingly better than I thought it would be. I assumed it would be like every other action, monkey movie that’s lame and only made for teenage boys and probably corny fathers. Tom Hiddleston was every fangirls’ dream in his tight shirt, Samuel Jackson was strong like his usual character and John C. Reilly was comical as always. The only complaint I had was Brie Larson’s character, who was insignificant to the plot line as a photographer. There were multiple times where you wished her camera broke and she’d be left behind. Other than that, the storyline was great and the CGI was phenomenal. This is a movie for King Kong fans, teenage boys and intellectuals alike. If the characters were fleshed out more, it would have been an A+.


Grade: A


Power Rangers (2017)

Entering the theater for this movie, I was pretty skeptical. Admittedly, I’ve been a “Power Rangers” fan for a long time and from what I’d seen with the marketing of this film, it didn’t impress me. The marketing made this movie seem like another poorly made, Power Rangers adaption with your signature stereotypical characters, in their stereotypically gender-based ranger roles. The red would be the lead, the blue would be the nerd, the green would be the comedic relief, the yellow would be the brood and the pink would be the perfect girl — clearly the Red Ranger’s partner, in and outside of the arena.

But surprisingly enough, the film was a lot better than marketing ever made it to be. “Power Rangers” deals with five troublesome teens who accidentally discover five power coins, which cling to each teen and begin to affect their physical abilities, leading them to discover Zordon and their soon-to-be destinies as Power Rangers.

Now, as I said before, the marketing already gave the film a poor look. I wasn’t impressed, I haven’t met anyone that was impressed, and well, you get my point. But as I entered the film, the actual characters — and when I say characters, I mean two or three out of the main five, you guess which three I’m talking about — actually got my attention.

Beyond the high-quality acting, the characters themselves actually host a lot of unique traits that aren’t just used as a temporary plot device to bring about drama before disappearing for the rest of the film. The characters are thorough and each of their marginalizing features shapes them into who they are and who they continue to be for the rest of the film. That’s honestly one of the best traits of the entire movie, the dedication to its characters and their individual growth.

But then you ask, why are only certain characters well fleshed out while others aren’t — because the movie is so goddamn rushed that there’s hardly time for other characters to develop. The writers for this movie must have had too much content on their hands with too little screen time, because this movie features the most awkward, harsh cuts I’ve seen and they don’t feel like a general editing style, they feel like literal cuts the editor had to make last second, in order to fit everything into the two-hour frame.

This movie goes so fast, that the montage scene literally matches the same pace as the rest of the movie. You’d only know it’s a montage because you get the catchy-rock music in the background. The likable, realistic characters might be this movie’s saving grace, but this movie’s rushed pace is enough to bring it down a notch — it’s no wonder the film barely reached its initial production cost in box-office revenue. But maybe that’s me being too harsh.

Is “Power Rangers” good? Legitimately, yeah. The effects are cool, most of the characters are likable and realistic while hosting real teenage problems and the fighting is pretty awesome. It’s an entertaining film for returning fans as well as casual ones, and I’m sure the movie and its marketing did a great job of creating a new wave of fans. Is the film perfect? Not at all, and anyone who sees it can tell you that. Is it worth the movie ticket? If you love “Power Rangers” as much as I do, I’d say give it a shot — you might like it more than you think. I know I did.


Grade: B-


Celeste Andrews is the assistant creative director of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @number1_fl2ist.