POWER RANGERS review

Well if this isn’t the biggest hit of nostalgia that I could endure, I don’t know what is.

Oh yeah, I’m a 90’s kid and I sure did love my Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. What wasn’t to be liked? These older kids who learned valuable life lessons while beating up the bad-guys, defending Angel Grove with their fists, weapons, and giant robots. It was awesome! My favorite was always the White Ranger, and Saba the living sword, but I preferred the Green Ranger’s golden armor. Never made any sense why he had it, but it was still awesome too. Man, I even had the Power Rangers Karate Club VHS tape and took pride in that!

EHEM…

I never watched the show past the days of White Ranger, with the exception of TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE (1997), but I know there’s a dozen reincarnations. I haven’t the slightest idea what they’re about, but it does warm the heart to know that the legacy continues.

But now it’s time to talk about this latest reboot. It is indeed a reboot of the very first American incarnation, but with a different feel to it. A little darker and grittier and a focus on more drama, possibly. But that’s the long and short. Do I actually think this will be good? Eh… I don’t like the designs of the rangers. They look like Iron Man suits, obviously agreeing with the mass majority of complainers. I mean, seriously, glowing shaped chests? Was there a more obvious rip-off this movie could have done? The zords also look boring, their designs not exactly cool, nor does the megazord in the few flashes we get of it. Honestly, it looks like it’s going to be young adult PACIFIC RIM (2013) and be kind of forgettable. Oh and seriously? The new Power Rangers symbol is just The Flash’s symbol, but backward. About the only thing I can claim to be excited for is the idea that the zords, when separated, will actually fight as individuals instead of immediately going for the megazord. You almost never saw that in the show. I’m hoping for little more than sheer entertainment.

Well, let’s take a look at the cast. Obviously, the big names here are Bryan Cranston (THE INFILTRATOR [2016], GODZILLA [2014], and TV show BREAKING BAD) and Elizabeth Banks (MAGIC MIKE XXL [2015], LOVE & MERCY [2014], The Hunger Games franchise, and the upcoming PITCH PERFECT 3 [2017]). Both wonderful actors to be sure, but let’s take a gander at the real stars of the movie, the actual Power Rangers. Playing Jason, the Reg Ranger is Dacre Montgomery (TV show STRANGER THINGS). Kimberly, the Pink Ranger is Naomi Scott (THE 33 [2015] and TV show TERRA NOVA). Billy, the Blue Ranger is RJ Cyler (ME, EARL, AND THE DYING GIRL [2015]). Zack, the Black Ranger is Ludi Lin (known for mostly Chinese films). And Trini, the Yellow Ranger is Becky G. (TV show EMPIRE).

Now for the crew. Directing is Dean Israelite, known for PROJECT ALMANAC (2015). Penning the screenplay is John Gatins, known for KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017), NEED FOR SPEED (2014), and REAL STEEL (2011). Composing the music is Brian Tyler, known for XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2017), NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (2016), and THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014). Finally, the cinematographer is Matthew J. Lloyd, known for PROJECT ALMANAC, ROBOT & FRANK (2012), and TV show DAREDEVIL.

Overall, I think this movie is going to be bad, but I’ll be happy if it was just entertaining.

This is my honest opinion of: POWER RANGERS

(SUMMARY)

Long ago, the Power Rangers, led by their Red Ranger leader Zordon (Bryan Cranston), sacrificed themselves against the evil Green Ranger Rita Repulsa. Though defeated, she was not killed, but rather laid dormant until the present day. Teenagers Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin), Billy (RJ Cyler), and Trini (Becky G.) of the small town of Angel Grove are all social outcasts. Good kids, but they haven’t always been given the benefit of the doubt, and find themselves in trouble more often than intended. One day, out by an archaeological dig, the five of them travel out to it and uncover a set of multi-colored alien-looking coins that grant them superpowers, like enhanced strength and durability. Venturing further into the archaeological site, they happen across an alien space ship and encounter an alien robot known as Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), and his master and source of answers for the teenagers for their powers, Zordon, who’s essence was transferred into a wall to help guide the teenagers into becoming the next Power Rangers, as Rita has awoken and is hunting down all the gold she can in order to raise her great monsters to terrorize the city to find what was denied her so long ago: the Zeo Crystal.

(REVIEW)

Well, I hesitate to say it’s good… but it’s a hell of a lot better than I thought it’d be. Hell, it’s probably a lot better than it has any right to be.

So a big thing to keep in mind while watching this movie, it’s not quite for kids. It’s PG-13. So there’s swearing, violence, and even death. On the one hand, I feel like the creators could have made the same movie here without resorting to its PG-13 rating, but then again, much like every single incarnation of the Power Rangers, they’ve all been for younger generations of kids. So the kids that grew up with the original show are getting a movie based on their beloved incarnation… and I doubt we would have been happy with it being the exact same style of storytelling. We’re adults now, and we have adult lives. So while the Rangers still needed to be teenagers, because that’s who they have to be, but as we ourselves have gotten more mature, we would need characters to match that level of maturity. They can’t be the cookie-cutter goodie-two-shoes like the show portrayed. So I support this approach. Although, I do kinda wish at least one of them wasn’t a troublemaker. I guess Billy is the closest, but even he is still over-the-top enough to blow up a locker on accident and get detention. But when the day is done, they’re still not terribly written and do have some legit moments. Take Zack for instance. Throughout the story, he’s the character that acts crazy. Is totally down to try and do the insane things and test his limits. But later on, when they get around a campfire to talk about their personal lives and find some way to connect with each other, he stands up and shouts how awesome his mother is, despite her sickness. It was corny, sure, but hell if it wasn’t a sweet kind of corny.

Oh, and can we just make Banks an official national treasure? I would swear that she was told what her role would be and she just knew. She just knew what she was going to do with it. She owns the damn screen when she’s on there and it is pure, concentrated delight. And what a huge turn-around for the character of Rita Repulsa. This bitch is as psychotic as they come. Like, she kills people. Straight up. She kills a homeless dude for the gold tooth in his mouth and kills a security guard when he tries to stop her from robbing a jewelry store. In the show, she was more or less just a plot device, creating the monsters the Rangers fight, rather than fighting herself. As you can see, 180, making her far more interesting and threatening than she’s ever been and it’s a much welcomed change.

Beyond that, I got my wish. I wanted to see the Zords individually kick some ass, which they did. The acting also really shines through as well. The special effects are solid. The stakes feel pretty high, the action’s not bad, it sure does do a whole lot right. Oh, and I am craving a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Like… a lot. This movie has a serious hard-on for that place. This isn’t a complaint. Krispy Kreme is practically dying and hopefully this film will give it some kind of resurgence.

But does that make it a good movie? That might vary from person to person, but I did have my issues. Goldar is such a wasted monster. In the show, Goldar was always the loyal warrior of Rita’s. He’s arguably the Rangers’ most dangerous recurring opponent, often taking on the Rangers solo without much trouble, a feat not often accomplished by Rita’s monsters outside of the evil Green Ranger. Goldar’s design is completely different, being literally just a giant monster made up of the gold that Rita’s been collecting. Goldar is an iconic baddie in the show and is a huge fan-favorite. But here… there’s almost no reason to give him a name. He’s not the same monster, he’s just a golden monster that they named Goldar.

Also, and this is the cardinal sin, the few times the movie tries to have throwbacks to the campiness of the original show is when it became a little too gimmicky. Lines like, “Make my monster grow!” “It’s morphin’ time.” Those lines aren’t said very organically and I did cringe a bit. A movie as dark and serious as this is, the camp is definitely misfired. This is the ultimate problem with the choice of making it a darker film. Dark films, particularly modern ones, aren’t known to have camp. A little comedy maybe, but not camp. I know this movie is trying to be mature, but comedy doesn’t have to mean potty humor and trying to make bodily waste funny. A clever writer could have written an action-comedy with interesting and adult ideas, so the camp doesn’t feel as misplaced as it is here. To be fair though, these issues aren’t a huge focus, so they don’t really weigh the movie down that much.

So… yeah, I guess I do think this is a good movie, despite my hesitations. I don’t see myself seeing this too many more times, but I’m glad I saw it. And like I said, it’s much better than I expected and much better than it has any right to be. It’s nice to revisit this world and story with its own spin on things that mostly pay off. Perhaps I have my nostalgic goggles on, but I enjoyed this. I think it’s worth the time of day and I look forward to seeing a sequel. By the way, there’s a petition to have Tommy Oliver, the good Green Ranger female in the sequel. I support this idea.

My honest rating for POWER RANGERS: 4/5

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