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Another hit of Trainspotting for happy cynics, Power Rangers for the kids and Life for space horror fans

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A spaceship to Mars has brought back a single-cell organism, the first sign of extra-terrestrial life. The crew that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds take it to the international space station to study it because it may not be safe to bring it to earth. It’s a placid little creature as it grows but still what scientist would poke his finger at it and let it wrap its wing-like “proto-appendages” around his hand? He regrets it soon enough and after more growth Reynolds does too. His fate is pretty grisly. The thing, now dubbed Calvin, gets loose in the station and must be caught. That’s not easy because it’s also getting smarter. The action gets scary and frantic and includes a couple of oddities. Jake reads and recites Good Night Moon, the bedtime classic,and Rebecca cautions that all space organisms must be considered hostile. No, Trump didn’t write it. (Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

WILSON: Movies from graphic novels have a spotty record but here’s a second good one from the work of Daniel Clowes. The first was Ghost World which brought us Scarlett Johansson back in 2001 and got an Oscar nomination for its script. This new one isn’t on that level but it does have the same shambling structure and quirky humor. And it has two name stars in the lead, Woody Harrelson as a neurotic misanthrope with abrasive ideas about life (“a big fairy tale”, “a charade built on lies”) and Laura Dern as the ex-wife he re-connects with for a while.

 

That happens when he learns that she didn’t have an abortion when she walked out on him but had the baby and put it up for adoption. Wilson finds the now-17-year-old and tries to form a family. That’s not easy because he’s such a curmudgeon railing against one person’s “overcompensary display of class privilege,” a pastor’s “mumbo jumbo” and even a prison inmate’s facial swastika tattoo. The film is full of swipes at society from the internet and smart phones to “obnoxious drivel” pop music. It’s episodic and shallow but Harrelson is funny, occasionally even likeable. (International Village) 3 ½  out of 5

POWER RANGERS: My grandchildren loved it. That’s about all that’s really imperative to tell you.  They’re the target audience after all, although dads might feel a tinge of nostalgia. They probably watched the TV series it’s based on.  It’s been around since 1993 (over 800 episodes) and originally started in Japan. The film repeats the origin story from its first season.

 

The small fishing village of Angel Grove, ably played by Steveston and a few other BC locations, is in danger from a former power ranger who has turned evil. Rita Repulsa, played with cackling glee by Elizabeth Banks, is searching for the Zeo crystal with which she will be able to destroy all life on earth. In what must be a product-placement coup, it’s hidden in a Krispy Kreme donut shop. Her former leader, the alien Zordon, now just a special-effects face played by Brian Cranston, needs to stop her and recruits five teens from the local highschool. (Templeton, if you look closely). There’s a jock, a science nerd, a mean girl, an ostracized girl and a Chinese boy. They’ll be power rangers if they can only learn to morph, that is work together selflessly. It takes them much of the film to work through their issues before they can get to the grand battle. The film is a bit cheesy and slow at the start but builds up its energy and becomes quite rousing and entertaining. (International Village, Marine Gateway and suburban theatres) 2 ½ out of 5

More in New Movies

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Also an ingenious take on the migrant crisis, and a second appreciation this year of Ingmar Bergman that adds to what we already know from the first

Melissa’s forgeries, Rami’s dead-on Freddie Mercury and a cult classic re-imagined

Also: a bit of opera (real with Maria Callas and fictional in Bel Canto) and an ode to BC’s chief geographical feature in This Mountain Life
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