Power Rangers is a hard sell to the mainstream audience. The TV series is seen as kiddy fodder of the stinky cheese variety. So giving it a gritty reboot seems like a sure fire way to bring in the modern audience. It worked for Avengers, Batman, and other comic book style properties right? So why couldn’t it work for Power Rangers? Well at the end of the day, when you focus on the teenagers and not the fight scenes, you end up with a movie that is going to go down as a badly written trope-fest that should have been on Netflix rather than in the cinema.
Title: Power Rangers
Production Company: Lionsgate & Temple Hill Entertainment
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Produced by: Haim Saban, Brian Casentini, Marty Bowen & Wyck Godfrey
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston & Elizabeth Banks
Based on: Power Rangers by Haim Saban / Super Sentai by Toei Company
Release dates: March 24, 2017 (United States) / March 23, 2017 (Australia)
Running time: 124 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (United States) / M (Australia)
Power Rangers starts out on a bit of a dark outlook as the Red Ranger crawls through the mud, explosions going off around him in what looks to be a battle on Earth during the Cenozoic Era. The Red Ranger de-morphs to reveal himself to be Zordon. Zordon asks Alpha 5 to send a meteor to his location as a last attack against his enemy: the turncoat Green Ranger… Rita Repulsa. Before the meteor hits, Zordon is able to bury the Power Coins so that they can be found by the next Power Rangers.
In a high school, Jason and a friend brings in a bull in some sort of prank. The Police arrive, causing Jason and friend to being a car chase. Turning his car’s lights off to avoid the cops, Jason is taken by surprise by another car, causing him to crash his own car. Fast forward to 3 weeks later, Jason is being dropped off to Angel Grove High School on a Saturday for detention. Jason’s father is disappointed by the car accident as it has cost Jason his place as the school’s star quarterback. When Jason enters the detention room, we meet some of the other soon to be Rangers. Billy, an autistic nerd; & Kimberley, an ex-communicated cheerleader.
After detention, Billy tries to befriend Jason; offering to trick Jason’s house arrest tracker into allowing him to go anywhere. After overhearing an argument between his parents, Jason heads to Billy’s house to see what can be done. After rewriting the sim in the tracker, Billy and Jason head out to the Angel Grove Gold Mine where Billy and his father used to go. We get a small introduction to Zack & Trini. After Billy causes an explosion, all the teens gather and discover the Power Coins. The explosion also alerts security on the site, leading to another car chase that ends with the group getting his by a train. The group mysteriously wakes up in their homes safe and sound.
The group begins to discover that they have been enhanced with things like strength, durability, agility, etc. The all head back to the Gold Mine where they found the Power Coins in order to search for clues. Through an accidental fall by Billy, the group finds the entrance to a spaceship that has been buried for millions of years. When the group enters the spaceship, they are found by Alpha 5 and introduced to Zordon and the explanation about Power Rangers and Rita Repulsa is done. Que the long training montage sequence. While the Rangers train, Jason’s father (who is a fisherman) discovers the corpse of Rita Repulsa, who wakes up and begins gathering gold to recreate her staff and her ultimate creature Goldar. While training, Billy is able to locate the Zeo Crystal, the source of all life on the planet… Under a Krispy Kreme store.
Due to their inability to morph right away, the Rangers stupidly try to take on Rita and get their asses whooped, resulting in Billy getting killed in the process. The group takes Billy back to the Command Center and Zordon sacrifices his only chance to come back to life through the morphing grid to restore Billy’s life. Together the group is finally able to morph into their suits and they head out to face off against Rita and her newly created Goldar. Using the zords, the Rangers face off against Goldar, who is able to find the Zeo Crystal. Goldar gets the upper hand leading to the Rangers being able to become the Megazord, defeat Goldar, bitch slap Rita into space and save the day.
In a mid-credits scene, the teacher in charge of detention announces a new attendee… Tommy Oliver, who is not present but his green jacket is.
As I mentioned in the story part above, there was a huge lot of NOTHING in Power Rangers. The overall character arc for everyone was “We’re a bunch of weirdos and losers, but we can be friends”. So instead of looking at the character arcs for everyone, I’m just going to break them down into their tropes and just look at them in that context instead.
- Dacre Montgomery as Jason Scott / Red Ranger: The former High School quarterback who’s career is cut short after a prank turned car chase turned car crash breaks his knee. His father is disappointed in him for acting like an idiot. Forced into the leadership role by Zordon, he adapts quickly into the role and rallies the Power Rangers when things turn to crap. Montgomery is good in this role, but it’s so generic that he can’t really do much with it.
- Naomi Scott as Kimberly Hart / Pink Ranger: Former cheerleader who’s life was destroyed by sending an unflattering photo of another girl to her ex-boyfriend, whom she also assaulted. Her being cut out from her friendship circle, she changes her look and wants to flee Angel Grove. She is kinda the emotional bond of the group after a while, helping Trini come out of her shell and befriending Jason to an almost romantic degree. Scott is ok in this role. She resembles Amy Jo in looks but tries to be the “badass chick” in the movie.
- RJ Cyler as Billy Cranston / Blue Ranger: Billy is an autistic nerd. He lives with his mother and has an obsession with facts and figures. Due to his father passing away, Billy tries to hold onto the only thing they enjoyed together: Looking for items in the Angel Grove gold mine. He is the one who finds the Power Coins as well as the Command Center spaceship. Due to his obsession with just about everything, he is the one who is able to locate the Zeo Crystal. Out of all the characters, he is the one who benefits the most out of the overall character arc by gaining confidence in himself and coming out of his shell a lot… Till Rita kills him… but he comes back to life fine. Cyler’s performance is one of amazement, pulling off his main character trait really well and evolves himself well through the film.
- Becky G as Trini / Yellow Ranger: Trini is the new girl at school. she has moved 3 schools in 3 years, leading her to disconnect from the people around her, including her family. She is struggling with her sexuality during the movie, eventually admitting that she is homosexual. Spends a lot of time being the “outsider” of the group, only admitting that she likes the group after Billy dies. Becky G plays Trini in a very reserved manner, only talking when she needs to. Not too bad of a performance.
- Ludi Lin as Zack / Black Ranger: Zack is a school delinquent, rarely showing up for classes at Angel Grove High. He spends a lot of time hanging out on an abandoned train near the gold mine spying on Trini. At home, he is taking care of his sick mother. He worries about what he is going to do when he is gone. Zack covers up his internal pain by being “crazy”, living life with an almost sadistic lack of care for himself. Lin plays the role as almost the comic relief of the group, having a couple of awkward moments with Trini and then just being around.
- Bill Hader as the voice of Alpha 5: The robot assistant of Zordon. He’s just there. Sure the character looks weird, and he still says “Aya yi yi” a few times. Other then that he’s almost unneeded in this film if it wasn’t the requirement to have him help the Power Rangers train in The Pit.
- Bryan Cranston as Zordon: The mentor of the Power Rangers and original ancient Red Ranger. Zordon lived millions of years ago before becoming a part of the Morphing Grid in order to save his life. He gives no fucks at all about the current Power Rangers except as a tool in order to return himself to life. After sacrificing his own ressurection to return Billy to life, he does soften up to the idea of having to be a mentor to the new Power Rangers… But he’s just a dick for 95% of the movie. You can tell Cranston was told to bring a lot of his Breaking Bad character into the role. This is probably the worst thing that the movie did to the character.
- Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa: Rita Repulsa is a 65-million-year-old former Green Ranger who has gone rogue. She is obsessed with two things: Gold and the Zeo Crystal. She tries to force a connection with Trini as they are considered the “outsiders” of their groups. She is a very formidable fighter in her own right as well as having the magical ability to create rock-like Putty monsters and her ultimate creation: Goldar. Banks plays the character with an almost wrongful enjoyment of the role and it shows. She’s extremely creepy and at the same time almost comical when dealing with the modern world. A true highlight of the film.
Going from what I’ve had to say about the movie so far, you might be under the impression that I would have very little to talk about when finding things to compliment about Power Rangers, and you’d be right. However there are small moments of amusement in Power Rangers. Once of the best ones is when (I think) Jason picks up a Camaro and throws it at Goldar with the comment “Sorry Bumblebee”. That had the very small audience howling in laughter. There were also references to previous lines and moments in Power Rangers history, going from Rita saying “Make my monster grow” to the confusion of the gender of the Yellow Ranger (A shout out to the Sentai Yellow Ranger being a boy, yet the Power Rangers Yellow Ranger being a girl). If anything you can say that the CGI was a lot better done than the last time it was used in a Power Rangers movie.
But the biggest highlight, as I’ve said before, is Elizabeth Banks as Rita. Every moment she is on screen you can feel the evil in the character, and the fact that she can hold her own against the Power Rangers to the point where she dives at the MEGAZORD to attack it is awesome. Mixing her with the Green Power Coin was a great idea and could lead into more in a sequel. Having a more armored look to both Rita and the Power Rangers works given the new context of the Power Rangers themselves too. So there’s that.
Oh god where do I begin when looking at the things I did not like about the film. Maybe it’ll be easier to just give dot points instead of the things that I didn’t like and the MASSIVE plot holes in Power Rangers.
- Too much time is spent on the teenagers personal issues.
- Some of the character changes feel forced and at times unneeded beyond giving one of them a new issue.
- Zordon is a dick. Like a massive dick.
- Once they can finally morph, you only see the Power Rangers in full costume for 2 scenes, then we get some serious “Venom-itus” with the faceplates being removed.
- You sit through 90 minutes before you even see the group in the suits, then they do 2 battles very quickly, almost too quickly.
- The CGI looks good, but it’s still unnatural to the movie.
- Goldar looks like someone covered The Destroyer from Thor in liquid gold.
- They never explain how the group got home after the car crash with the train.
- Speaking of the car crash with the train, it’s never followed up. Not with Billy’s mother or even the Police in general.
- Jason returns the Power Sword to Zordon, not the Power Coins, but acts like he gave them back.
- Krispy Kreme… WHY!?
That’s just an example of what I didn’t like in Power Rangers. There’s probably a lot more that I could rant on and on about but I don’t want to write the War and Peace of unfavorable articles. Let’s just say that this reboot of Power Rangers is a failure on Ghostbusters 2016 levels.
I went into Power Rangers with low expectations and those expectations were met 100%. I thought this would be a movie where we would spend way too much time leading up to the battles dealing with the teenagers and their personal tropes, and I was right. While I understand that Power Rangers is a reboot and looking to draw in a new audience, the new audience doesn’t seem to care about it and it only leaves the hardcore fans like myself cringing at every reference drop that happens. I only laughed out once in the whole movie and that was it. Even with my 14 year old brother with me, who is the audience Power Rangers was made for, we found too many plot holes and the overall reaction to the movie was a resounding “meh”. The main issue with Power Rangers is that there is too much focus on teenage angst bullshit and not enough focus on the Power Rangers as a team (and the fights, which most of the fans who will see this are seeing this for). Power Rangers is going to be a movie that might find a brighter light as a Netflix movie series instead of a full blown theatrical release.
Lower your expectations if you’re a hardcore Power Rangers fan, and don’t go into this expecting a martial arts fest as a new viewer. There are other reviews out there that have called Power Rangers a CW TV Show pilot and they are right. Too much focus on the teenagers and their drama instead of giving us the kickass fights we really wanted. Even the 1995 movie had more action, as cheesy as that was. Can only recommend as a rental or wait till Netflix.