It’s Morphin’ time! or is it?
Today is Sunday, April 2nd, the tomfoolery of the internet trolls has passed and it’s safe to venture back out into the world and surf the information super highway, all without feeling like you’re going to be duped at any second. So you can rest assured this review is real and written to provide you my feelings towards the new Power Rangers movie, by Saban and director Dean Israelite.
The Power Rangers, or as they were called when they debuted; The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, first hit U.S. television in 1993, I was 14 years old, just on the outer cusp of their demographic. But I was geek, I loved the Batman Animated show, video games and so a show about high school kids (which I’d soon be) getting super power, ninja abilities and awesome costums, still really appealed to me. Plus, it had Amy Jo Johnson as the Pink Ranger, Kimberly.
The show reeked of cheapness. It was filled with low-budget effects, bad actors (not all of them), horrible sets that would make Godzilla cringe and worst off all, over-the-top douchey villains, with terrible names like Rita Repulsa and Zedd. Yet, I still found myself watching this show after school, mostly because of my fondness for Amy Jo Johnson, seeing how Kelly Kapowski was no longer on TV, as Save by the Bell had ended just the year before, she was a great replacement for my emerging male hormones.
The Power Rangers, despite the changing times, managing to survive by changing up its brand, adding in new themes and gimmicks like the first two seasons, followed by Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Power Rangers Time Force, Power Rangers Dino Thunder and literally quite a few more. The folks at Saban knew how to keep a brand alive, long enough to emerge in 2017 with a new movie, but this time, it didn’t appear to be goofy like the original, this one was trying to appeal to a more mature teenage and older crowd.
A little exposition here, I took my wife, who’s 30, and my son, who is now 12 (almost 13), to see this movie. My wife, who is 6 years younger then myself, grew up during the Power Rangers, but at a different time of her life. She was about 8 when she was first introduced to the Rangers and grew up watching all the changes Saban through at her, while I grew out of them after the second season. By that time I was driving, into girls and I left that part of my life behind. Years later, my son, born in 2004, had missed quite a few versions, started watching the show back in 2011-12 with Power Rangers Samurai (see the image below). So needless to say, we all had some type of Power Rangers in our life at some point. So, we knew we all wanted to see it.
If you saw the trailers building up to the release of Power Rangers, then you no doubtably saw that this film was taking a slightly darker, more serious tone than that of the TV shows. That being said, the film is still fun, but know this, this film is darker and there are some legit creepy moments that may scare or frighten children under 10-13. Let’s just say Elizabeth Banks’ Rita is not the over the top, goofy, slapstick villain from 93′. Billy (played by RJ Cyler), who is now African American, yet like the original, is still the smartest of the bunch, also offers the movies best laughs. Singer Becky G (aka Rebecca Gomez) plays Trini Kwan (yeah, not sure why or how Kwan was played by a hispanic actor, even her Dad looks hispanic, and managed to keep the name Kwan) does a decent job of playing an outcast, who has been bumped from school to school and is dealing with pressure from her family to be more “normal.” While it’s never out and out said, it’s alluded to (POSSIBLE SPOILER NOT REALLY) that Trini is a lesbian or at the very least, bi-sexual. Zack, the Black Ranger, who was African-American in the original, is now Asian and is played by Ludi Lin. This guy has charisma and I’m really surprised that he didn’t have more to do in this film, considering how relaxed and comfortable he appears. The leader of the bunch (yeah, I’m holding the Pink Ranger until last, fuck the Red Ranger, I don’t care if he’s the leader) is Jason, played by
Zack Efron Dacre Montgomery. While Montgomery does a good job overall, there was just something wooden about him in the beginning, but he did loosen up half way through and I didn’t hate him in the role, so he has that going for him. Last but not least is Naomi Scott, who is quite beautiful and certainly does the role of Kimberly Hart justice. I don’t find myself as drawn to her like I did to Johnson, not sure why. Maybe Johnson had a sort of softer side, while Scott’s Hart felt more like, mess with me and I’ll knock your teeth out type of vibe. The only real problem I saw with her, was that her character was to similar to Trini or vice versa, both are portrayed as outsiders. While Hart was a popular cheerleader, she’s on the outs when the movie starts, for something she did to a very popular guy at school. This “thing” has led to her friends casting her out and thus, she’s now a loner, who is “too cool for school.”
With all that out of the way, I’m going to talk about the film, but no spoilers. Just in case anyone here wants to see it.
The movie is fun and enjoyable. It’s not great, but it does offer some cool explanations that were never given in the old TV show, like who Zordon really was, who Rita is/was (this may have been changed for just this film, but it’s a cool twist). They also explain why the Zords are Dinosaurs, and it really makes sense, in this world anyway. There are some flimsy stuff, like Zordon saying they were chosen, because the Ranger coins needed to be found by those that were worthy, yet, these kids just stumbled upon the coins by accident. They weren’t chosen, it never, ever felt like they were selected, they just were in the wrong place at the right time and well, that’s what Zordon gets to mold into a new generation of Rangers, five teenagers who all meet in detention for doing stupid shit. The worst of them was Jason, whose actions were completely irresponsible, even after he goes to detention, he doesn’t seem like he’s changed. Yet, he’s the leader of this bunch. Not sure how I felt about his actions and resolution of them.
Elizabeth Banks’ Rita is at some points damn near terrifying and yet others, straight up laughable. She doesn’t have the vocals when she yells to her golden monster, Goldar, “get them!” It’s like a teenage boy’s voice cracking because of puberty. Bryan Cranton’s Zordon, was decent, seeing Heisenberg in makeup as [redacted], but the new way they showed his face, with cubes on a screen, takes away from the fact you have Bryan “Fucking” Cranston, in your movie. A projection of him would have been cooler, like a full body, instead of just his face.
The first three quarters of the film were all build up to the last quarter, where we finally see the Rangers suit up, yes, we don’t see them all dressed up together until about an hour and half into the film. That’s the payoff you get when you do a full reboot of a franchise, the origin story has to happen, before we get the payoff. Just like Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil, that took 13 episodes to give us a shot of him in the suit for the first time. I also think the “training” time was a bit short. Alpha-5, voiced by the great Bill Hader, tells the group they have 11 days to get ready for Rita Repulsa. 11-days to learn how to use their powers, martial arts and team work. I might add, that nowhere in that training time, did they ever learn to drive their Zords or were even told it transformed into a Megazord. That was a little far fetched to me. Simply write in more time, show the team growing closer together over a few months. Then maybe by the time they “morph” together, Jason will have learned his lesson (you’ll understand when you see it) and “team” will have learned to trust each other and learned to control their own Zords. The end battle is, well, really destructive. Like the TV show, you know the Megazord was going to show up and when he (they) fights, the town of Angel Grove, which looks like a tiny town in Maine, gets fucked up. I mean like seriously fucked up. Like the whole fucking town has been leveled, type of fucked up. But hey, they saved the world, so what’s a tiny shit hole fishing town, when we know NYC has been saved by these GQ looking teens. Was that harsh, yeah I guess it was. I guess that’s just me shoving my frustrations to the haters who trashed Man of Steel because the fight in Metropolis destroyed a few buildings and killed some people. That all happened in the heart of the city, this happened in a small town, but leveled almost all of it. Killing, well, I don’t know dozens in the process. But again, they saved the world, so you know, a few broken eggs.
Other than sounding harsh because of the damage and tackling a few of the characters and writing decisions, the movie is actually enjoyable and I would recommend it, especially for like 13 year olds, boy or girls, as this film definitely makes the girls out to be tough and they can definitely hold their own without being the ditzy valley girls.
Overall, I’d give the film a solid B. I’m sure there will be a sequel, as the mid-credits scene clearly hints at the future to come, so stay for that and keep a sharp eye out for two cameos from original Rangers.
Feel different? Disagree? Perhaps you do agree and want to add more. Leave a comment down below and maybe we can continue the discussion.