Power Rangers Review [SPOILER FREE]
Yes, I’m one of those! I was one of those kids who would make sure I was in front of a TV every weekday afternoon to watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Growing up, Power Rangers was right up there with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And despite the undeniable cheesiness of the old series, it always has a place in my heart.
A few years ago, Lionsgate had announced that they’d be rebooting Power Rangers in the form of a movie. The question then was… Was this going to be the Power Rangers movie every Power Ranger fan had dreamed of, or was this going to be the Power Rangers movie no Power Ranger fan wanted? In the months leading to the release of Power Rangers, we’ve seen so many different reactions to the footage and info released for the movie… An almost 50/50 split. Many were excited and opened minded about it. While many were already calling it an atrocity.
Power Rangers gives us an entirely new look into the lives of those five teenagers from Angel Grove. Back in MMPR, they were supposed to be “teenagers with attitude”, in this movie, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (RJ Cyler) , Zack (Ludi Lin), Trini (Becky Gomez) and Kimberly (Naomi Scott) take that to a different level. They’re a group of outcasts, rejects and screw ups, all battling their own demons. Going into this movie, you would never expect the writing and character development to be as good as it was here. The director (Dean Israelite), and writers, did a good job of creating characters you actually care about. All 5 of the would-be Rangers, were able to shine in their own way, with one unexpected character stealing the show. In the short time that they’re together in the film, their eventual bond is believable, and never really feels forced.
Another strongpoint in Power Rangers, was Zordon (Brian Cranston). Without spoiling anything, he wasn’t just a character that was there for the sake of being there. He had a history and motives that made him much more than just a floating head who calls upon the Rangers to save the day. And yes, I know he was always more than just a floating head. He felt very much as vulnerable as Jason, Billy, Zack, Trini and Kimberly. Even Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) actually served a purpose, other than yelling out “Ay, yi, yi! Angel Grove is under attack”. Rather than being useless and obnoxious, he was very “hands on” in training the Rangers.
Elizabeth Banks did one hell of a job with her portrayal of Rita Repulsa. After being discovered by fisherman (One of them being Jason’s father), she slowly begins to terrorize Angel Grove, in horror movie fashion… Viciously killing people to help rebuild herself and her army. I really loved the approach they took with Rita. It just felt “natural”, especially when you compare it to her MMPR counterpart. She was pretty menacing and down right evil.
There’s a lot more to Rita and Zordon that I won’t speak of, because that’s spoiler territory. But those elements really helped cement this movie together.
For a movie that normally wouldn’t, and probably shouldn’t shine with it’s writing, the director, writers and actors really worked together to give Power Rangers strength in that department. The “Breakfast Club” influence is very strong in this movie, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Despite some scenes here and there, this wasn’t a cheese-fest like the old MMPR series. I was glad to see that Israelite chose to spend more time developing the characters and their relationships, as opposed to making this a messy action/adventure.
Though we didn’t get much of the Rangers in suits (which wasn’t a problem to me), seeing them in action was pretty cool. We can all sit here and talk about whether we love or hate the new designs, but after watching this movie, those new suits felt very much like Power Rangers suits. They’re not just cool, shiny costumes either. Even though the Rangers did possess some special abilities after coming in contact with the Power Stones (or coins), they wouldn’t be able to survive the inevitable battle with Rita and her army without them. This was a great way to emphasize the importance of the suits, even while having super powers.
To no one’s surprise, as this was the case in even the old series, the Zords are not in the movie for long. If anyone is going to complain about that, I really don’t know what to tell you. Though I’m not a fan of the actual Megazord design in this movie, it was cool seeing how the Rangers operated it. Very reminiscent of the Jaegers in Pacific Rim, each Ranger controlled a specific part of the Megazord. This was a nice, subtle emphasis on teamwork, having to be in-sync with one another to control this massive robot. One can only wonder how Zord/Monster battles are going to look in the movies to come.
I don’t review these movies the same way most critics do. I’d rather spend time talking about something I actually enjoyed, as opposed to wasting my time and energy bashing a movie. So, with that being said… In no way am I saying that Power Rangers is a Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan caliber film. It’s a pretty straightforward super hero movie. Though there’s nothing super original or groundbreaking in Power Rangers, the characters are fleshed out and well developed, and the action is pretty solid. They did a great job of not cramming too much into this movie and cleverly paving way for future movies… And it seems they have big plans. From beginning to end, Power Rangers was an entertaining ride. I went into this movie HOPING that it would be good, at best… what I got was a huge surprise. The kid in me was jumping around right along with the 30 year old me. Easily the best Power Rangers movie, and in my opinion, putting nostalgia behind me, the probably the best Power Rangers product ever. Any Power Rangers fan is doing themselves a great disservice by not checking this movie out… Even if you’re one of those who shot it down before it came out.
I hope that this movie spawns a new series, preferably something animated. The Power Rangers lore has so much to offer, and I feel with an animated series, the series can move on from a product of nostalgia to something that can be taken seriously. Give me something along the lines of Transformers: Prime, and I’ll be good.