Film Review: Power Rangers (2017)

Also known as: Saban’s Power Rangers
Release Date: March 22nd, 2017 (Regency Village Theater premiere)
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Written by: John Gatins, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Music by: Brian Tyler
Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman

Lionsgate, Temple Hill Entertainment, 124 Minutes

Review:

For awhile now, I have been a fan of Japan’s Super Sentai franchise. For those that don’t know, it is the source material that was used to create Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the United States.

I have never been a big Power Rangers fan though. Believe me, I have tried but the show is cheesy to the point that it made Saved By the Bell look like an episode of Breaking Bad. Let’s be honest, Power Rangers has never really been good. And now that it is being presented more seriously and with a budget and also all original footage, one would have to assume that it could only be better than the original Power Rangers show.

Well, being that it doesn’t have much to live up to, it certainly surpasses the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show in every way. That doesn’t mean that it is a fantastic movie, however. It also isn’t bad though. Let me elaborate.

The film is primarily a teen drama that doesn’t really get to the action and superhero vibe of the film until the finale. There are a few run-ins with the villain and training montages but this is an origin story. Like most comic book style origin stories, it puts most of its emphasis on the journey of the characters as they transform into heroes. This isn’t a bad thing and I like that the film takes its time, developing the characters and fleshing out their personalities, their individual characteristics and what all this means for them.

The acting is certainly better than what the Power Rangers television shows have given us now for two-plus decades. The writing is also better and so is the story of these characters. While the film reestablishes the franchise’s mythos in new ways and deviates from the source material, it is probably for the best. The original series wasn’t well thought out and it was just an Americanized attempt at trying to make sense out of the footage they spliced in from the Japanese Sentai series Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger.

Power Rangers is hokey but it is fun. However, it isn’t cheesy in an eye-rolling sort of way. It certainly stands well above the Michael Bay Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remakes. It also doesn’t play like the male version of Twilight, which I feared from some of the trailers and marketing. Unlike those three franchises just mentioned, you really care about the kids in Power Rangers.

Elizabeth Banks was also pretty entertaining as the new version of the villain Rita Repulsa. While the character is completely different than the television version, who was a different villain completely in Japan where she was known as Bandora, Banks owned the part and looked like she was having a lot of fun playing an over-the-top supervillain.

Bryan Cranston was solid as Zordon and Bill Hader was actually quite perfect for the voice of Alpha 5. I liked that Alpha 5 wasn’t some annoying moron and actually was a snarky character that could probably hold his own in a fight if he had to.

The Zords were all fairly cool and came off better than I thought they would. The Pink Ranger’s pterodactyl was by far the coolest. Megazord also looked good and resembled an upgraded and more futuristic version of a Jaeger from Pacific Rim.

As far as negatives, while the film takes its time before putting our heroes in their Ranger armor, they do seem to beat Rita Repulsa and Goldar fairly easily without any real experience. They learned how to pilot their Zords pretty quickly and after one initial stumble piloting the Megazord, the five pilots are able to fairly easily defeat Goldar. Also, apart from summoning Goldar and Putties, Rita Repulsa doesn’t seem to have much power at all.

Power Rangers is by no means a great film but it isn’t supposed to be. It is supposed to reinvigorate the fan base with something new and something better. It really gets away from the teen sitcom and tokusatsu vibe of the television shows but what it gives us is a legitimate upgrade. It’ll be interesting to see what happens as this new incarnation roars forward with other installments. I don’t expect mind blowing motion pictures but I do anticipate a lot of fun between bites of double buttered extra salty popcorn.

 

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