TL;DR – It may have looked like a mess, but wow I’m honestly surprised at just how well they did here.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
P.S. There is a mid-credit scene
Ah, Power Rangers, when I was a kid this was the thing that everyone was watching when we were not following Ash in his journey around Kanto. So part of me was really quite nervous before seeing Power Rangers as this is the first time Hollywood has done one of this big movie reboots of an old media property nostalgia cash grabs (see 21 Jump Street, those Transformer films, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe etc) from something from my own childhood before. On top of this, the released production stills from the movie showed a major re-envisioning from the original source material, which didn’t really help the situation. So I walked into the movies with more than a little trepidation, but (and it may just be those rose-tinted glasses talking) I walked out really enjoying Power Rangers.
So for those who have never watched the original, and maybe for those who did, let’s set the scene. 65 Million Years ago a great battle was fought on Earth with the last Power Rangers sacrificing their lives to stop Rita (Elizabeth Banks) from requiring the powerful McGuffin, I mean life crystal. Flash-forward to today and the town of Angel’s Grove and cut to Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) the star football guy of the town throwing his life away in a prank that goes wrong, his football career is over, and now he is stuck in weekend detention. Now if you are concerned that this is becoming a bad The Breakfast Club clone, don’t worry while it might be taking some thematic queues it is not a parody/rip-off of it. Then, of course, some gems are found, some monsters are released, and the story takes off.
From that story perspective, well I think people need to be a bit realistic about the source material. In the original Power Rangers (I’m not sure if this is the same for Super Sentai) each episode basically went as such – There is a problem with one/all the team and life, the Big Bad releases the monster of the week, the Power Rangers fight it, the big bad makes the monster of the week super-sized, bring in the Zords, make it a Megazord, defeat monster, and learn life a lesson. They were good, but not the most revolutionary stories in the world. Now while the movie has taken some liberties with the backstory, overall I feel it pays homage to the source material whilst still bring it into the modern time. Now it might get a bit Degrassi Junior High at times, all the issues the kids are dealing with feel like real issues, not just things 50-year-olds think are issues for young people today. What do you do when your mother is sick and possibly dying, what do you do if that joke image goes viral, what do you do if you are autistic and people mock you. Another area that Power Rangers updates itself is in the costumes, zords, character creations etc. and I know this may be a deal breaker for some people but once you see it on screen moving around, I think it all works really quite well. Particularly, I like the direction they took with the design of Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), though I think part of that is from the actors having fun with the roles.
This is a team based movie so if the team does not work, them your movie is going to be bad, but I am happy to say the casting was spot on here, indeed I was surprised at just how well all the cast worked together. All the rangers, Jason, Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Trini (Becky G), and Zach (Ludi Lin) all bring a lot of energy to their roles. You have the jock who is not happy to have his life planned out for him, the cheerleader that has gone from popular to not, the kid who is just trying to get through school but everyone is taking pleasure in making his life difficult, the one who is freaking out about losing what is most dear to him, and the one who can never be what her parents want here to be. It is a really difficult take to make all these things work together, but here I really think they pulled it off. Also while they have made big changes with Rita, honestly I think they work, mostly because like Michael Sheen in Tron Legacy, Elisabeth Banks is playing the hell out of her character, she makes every scene she is in interesting. There are also some great supporting cast members and as I said Zordon and Alpha 5 are brilliantly realised, so overall, it has an amazing cast.
Technically there is a lot to praise with Power Rangers, first the action, in today modern filmmaking it is great to see a movie like this with clear action sequences where you can actually see what is going on. This is because unlike Taken 3 or Resident Evil they don’t cut multiple times a second, there is clear flow, and even some slow motion sequences so you can see all the action in all its glory. The CGI is all also quite good, the Zords look fantastic, and the monsters all hold up, there are a couple of destruction things that look a bit odd but nothing major. The set designs are really quite interesting with Zordon’s ship. There are also a couple of really good sequences like the opening police chase where a lot of care and attention has gone into the framing and filming of the sequence.
Now it is not a perfect film, there is a big reveal at the end which they don’t show as it is hidden by smoke, and while this was obviously done so there could be a big surprise reveal, I think it would have been better to show it in detail, instead of cloak and daggers, Also Krispy Kreme Doughnuts seems to be the only store in the entire town, the product placement was verging on being obnoxious but then they also play with it for laughs, so I don’t know if I am annoyed about the product placement or because they made me laugh with a product placement joke, it’s I-Robot all over again.
In the end when people say that movies with diverse casts, strong women protagonists/villains, etc won’t be popular, well then I am going to use Power Rangers as one of the many examples to shut that down. It is a fun action film, it’s respectful to its source material whilst still being different, and when we get down to it, it’s heart-warming as hell. I completely recommend Power Rangers.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Dean Israelite
Screenplay by – John Gatins
Story by – Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney
Based on – Power Rangers by Haim Saban & Super Sentai by Toei Company
Music by – Brian Tyler
Cinematography by – Matthew J. Lloyd
Edited by – Martin Bernfeld & Dody Dorn
Starring – Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, David Denman, Erica Cerra, & Elizabeth Banks
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13