Monday, March 27, 2017

Movie Review: Power Rangers


Power Rangers

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland.

Michael's Movie Grade:C

Review: A surprisingly good movie, even if it is far from a great one.

What surprisingly works well here is the characters and the emotional moments. This almost feels more like a Breakfast Club like movie, with teenagers who happen to be superheroes. Scenes like the one around the campfire as well as the Red and Pink Rangers speaking in his bedroom, were surprisingly kind of touching. To a much different extant Rita was an over the top and quite fun villain. I kind of miss these over-the-top villains and this one was definitely fun.

This film did however delve into a few clichés that I am so tired of and don't want to see anymore. One of these is a terribly written school bully, who is simply a walking stereotype of a school bully. Another one is (without giving anything away (not that you can't see it coming in the first place)) a scene where they try to make you think the film is going to do something we all know it isn't. Also surprisingly with how good the characters and emotional scenes are the big action scene is kind of underwhelming. It isn't bad but it could be much better.

I would complain about the Krispy Kreme product placement, but it was so ridiculous, I found it funny instead of annoying. There is even a scene where Rita stops in the middle of an action scene to eat a doughnut. Again this so over the top and silly that instead of finding this annoying it is downright funny.

Overall a good movie, even if it is far from a great one.

-Michael J. Ruhland.    

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Silent Film of the Month: Captain Salvation (1927)

Runtime: 87 minutes. Studio: MGM. Director: John S. Robertson. Writer: Jack Cunningham. Intertitles: John Colton. Producer: John S. Robertson. Main Cast: Lars Hanson, Marceline Day, Pauline Starke, Ernest Torrance. Cinematographer: William Daniels.

In many ways I consider the silent era the golden age of Christian films. While there are many great films with Christian messages released over the years the best ones seem to be from the silent era. These include such amazing films as Ben Hur: A Tale of the ChristSparrows (ok it may not be your typical Christian film but it definitely has a Christian Message), King of KingsNoah's Ark, the original Ten Commandments and this little hidden gem. As a Christian, myself I have a special fondness for the Christian films of the silent era.

This film's director was John S. Robertson. Robertson had begun his career in 1916 as both an actor and director however by 1918, he was directing and no longer acting. His directing career began by directing various comedy short for the Vitagraph studio. In 1917 he directed his first feature film Baby Mine. As a feature length director he would direct such movies as Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde (1920) and The Enchanted Cottage. His career would last until 1935.

The star of this film was Lars Hanson, a name that is probably not as well remembered as it should be. Hanson began his film career in his home country of Sweden, with a lost 1916 film called Dolken. However he would not catch the attention of American movie makers until costarring (with Greta Garbo) in 1924's The Saga of Gösta Berling. This film was a huge international success and it wasn't long until MGM wanted to work with Lars Hanson. By the time he stared in Captain Salvation, he had already been in two gigantic box office successes for the MGM studio, The Scarlett Letter and The Flesh in the Devil (where he would once again costar with Great Garbo). Here his costars would be Marceline Day, Pauline Starke and Ernest Torrance. Torrance was one of the silent screen's greatest tough guys appearing in such films like Peter Pan (1924), Steamboat Bill Jr.The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The King of KingsTol'able David, and The Ruggles of Red Gap. He most often played villains like he does here, and was an operatic baritone before his film career. Marceline Day had a great talent for comedy. She started at the Mack Sennett studio, where she even appeared in films that starred Harry Langdon. Though over the course of her career she would appear in more dramatic movies such as this one and London After Midnight (the infamous lost film with Lon Chaney and directed by Tod Browning), she would still do much comedy, including being the leading lady opposite Buster Keaton in The Cameraman. In the 1930's unfortunately her career would go downhill and she would appear mostly in B pictures including The Telegraph Trail (with John Wayne, who would obviously later graduate from B pictures). Pauline Starke began her career as an extra in 1916, even appearing in such big films as D.W. Griffith's Intolerance. However she would work her way up to being a leading lady. As a leading lady she would appear in such films as The VikingEyes of YouthA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1921) and Salvation Nell 

The film's story centers on a young man named Anson Campbell (played by Lars Hansen), who is as a title tells us torn between two loves. These are his love of serving God and of the sea. One day he sees a woman (probably a prostitute, though never directly stated) named Bess Morgan (played by Pauline Starke) being treated very harshly in his town, because she is sinful. He helps her out and takes care of her, but this ends up ruining his life with the town folks, his girlfriend (played by Marceline Day) and seemingly his ministry. Distraught he joins up with a ship hoping to leave it all behind. However Bess is on the ship, and the captain (played by Ernest Torrance) is not exactly the nicest of fellows. However this leads him to learn all that god actually has in store for him.

This is a fantastic movie in many ways. The story is really engaging, the acting is great, the film looks great (hugely thanks to cinematographer William Daniels) and the whole movie is just charming. Also adding to the movies charm is John Coulton's extremely well written and intelligently thought out intertitles. As all silent film fans know, poorly written intertitles can take their toll on other wise great films, but well written ones can make a great movie even better. Don't think that because I'm Christian and am praising a Christian movie that it does not hold much for non-Christians, this film has more than enough to satisfy any fan of silent cinema.

Resources Used

-Michael J. Ruhland