Critics Consensus

Power Rangers Splits Critics and Life Is Fine

Plus, CHIPS is stale and Prevenge is Certified Fresh.

by | March 23, 2017 | Comments

This week at the movies, we have beautiful people making a huge mistake in space (Life, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson) and a pair of TV series from yesteryear making the leap to the silver screen (Saban’s Power Rangers, with Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston; and CHiPs, starring Dax Shepard and Michael Peña). What are the critics saying?

Saban's Power Rangers (2017) 44%

The TV series that started it all is frequently derided as low-budget cheese, but there’s no denying the Power Rangers franchise’s enduring — and lucrative — appeal. That continued viability brings our go-go multicolored heroes back to theaters this weekend for the reboot treatment, uniting a whole new cast around the ongoing struggle between the disembodied wizard Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and his witchy nemesis Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). The results, perhaps unsurprisingly, strike most critics as entertaining enough, yet deeply inessential; caught between embracing its campy roots or giving the material an action-thriller overhaul, the new-look Saban’s Power Rangers never quite manages to justify its existence. If you’re a fan, you’ll probably still want to buy a ticket, and a sequel might be more or less inevitable, but those in search of a truly satisfying nostalgia rush are advised to look elsewhere.

Life (2017) 67%

It isn’t Life‘s fault that Alien will forever stand as the definitive claustrophobic space thriller — and if director Daniel Espinosa had gotten his hands on this script (written by Deadpool vets Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese) during that franchise’s long lull, there’s a chance the story might have seemed a bit more original. But with Alien: Covenant right around the corner, this sleek sci-fi adventure about an extraterrestrial organism discovered in space by a crew of ISS astronauts (including Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds) strikes a fair number of critics as uncomfortably familiar. Still, most scribes suggest that as long as you’re just out for a little B-movie fun this weekend, you should have a reasonably good time with Life — even if you’ll likely have forgotten most of it by the time that next Alien installment arrives in May.

CHIPS (2017) 17%

Saban’s Power Rangers isn’t the only successful TV series getting a big-screen facelift this weekend: also roaring into your local cineplex is CHIPS, writer-director-star Dax Shepard’s 21st-century adaptation of the hit buddy-cop action-drama that made stars out of Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox during its 1977-’83 run. As we’ve seen repeatedly over the years, turning a television show into a movie can be harder than it looks; for every Brady Bunch Movie, there’s a Car 54, Where Are You? — and sadly, critics say this CHIPS lands decidedly on the latter end of the spectrum. While the original wasn’t anyone’s idea of a classic, the movie (which pairs Shepard with Michael Peña as mismatched patrolmen Jon Baker and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello) swaps out its enduringly cheesy charms for lowbrow humor that provokes fewer laughs than embarrassed sighs. For the price of a night out at the movies, you could pick up the complete series on DVD — and if you’re really in the mood to see a pair of California Highway Patrolmen in action, it sounds like that’s your best bet.

What’s New on TV

Shots Fired: Season 1 (2017) 83%

Shots Fired tackles tough topics commendably — and remains consistently compelling despite an occasionally meandering plot.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Prevenge (2017) , about a pregnant woman driven into a killing spree by her unborn child, is at 95 percent.
  • I Called Him Morgan (2017) , a documentary look at the life and murder of jazz musician Lee Morgan, is at 95 percent.
  • Dig Two Graves (2017) , about a girl grappling with the tempting — and costly — opportunity to bring her brother back from the dead, is at 89 percent.
  • A Woman, A Part (2017) , about the personal and professional travails of an actress at a crossroads, is at 88 percent.
  • I, Olga Hepnarová (Já, Olga Hepnarová) (2017) , a fact-based drama about a young outcast who violently retaliates against society, is at 79 percent.
  • Wilson (2017) , starring Woody Harrelson as a middle-aged misanthrope, is at 44 percent.
  • Bokeh (2017) , a drama offering a look at the post-apocalypse through the eyes of a couple vacationing in Iceland, is at 44 percent.
  • The Most Hated Woman In America (2017) , starring Melissa Leo as real-life atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, is at 43 percent.

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