Children of the 90’s have been waiting to watch one movie this year: Saban’s Power Rangers. While it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the 90’s television show was loved by a dedicated group of fans. This “darker” reboot of the popular television show has had hardcore fans squealing with its solid trailers and other promotional material. But did these new crop of Power Rangers pack enough punch to have me yelling “GO GO POWER RANGERS?” I went to the theater to find out. The following review will be spoiler free.
Saban’s Power Rangers is directed by Dean Israelite and stars a crop of new budding actors led by Dacre Montgomery as the Red Ranger and Naomi Scott as the Pink Ranger. We follow five teens in the town of Angel Grove who are going through some troubles in their lives. However, even though they are all different, they all come together due to strange circumstances and receive superhuman powers after coming in contact with strange coins found in the Earth. As the five high-schoolers start to uncover the reasons behind these new abilities, they uncover their destiny as a new crop of Power Rangers which have the task of saving the planet from the dreaded Rita Repulsa.
The CEO of Lionsgate, Jon Feltheimer, exclaimed at the end of 2016 that he was so enthused about how the production of Power Rangers was coming along that he wanted to make seven more Power Rangers films in the coming years. While this certainly sounded like hyperbole, in a weird way, it gave this Power Rangers film an extra boost of confidence as the marketing push for the film was beginning to start up.
In addition, Bryan Cranston, the voice of Zordon in the film, also came out in an interview praising how great this Power Rangers film was going to be, even comparing it to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight.
After these remarks, everyone seemed to have the same question on their mind: Could Power Rangers actually be this good or was this a case of people involved within the film trying to further market the project to possible moviegoers?
Then, the trailers for the film were released to the public which were met with predominantly positive buzz from movie lovers, myself included. As I settled in my seat in the theater waiting for the last trailer to finish, it came to my mind that all this hype leading up to the film may have some merit to it.
After leaving the theater, I concluded that Power Rangers doesn’t reach that level of greatness, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t fun to be had.
What I Liked
When you have a film that is led by mostly unknown actors, it’s always interesting to see whether some new stars are born or that those people may have to apply to their nearest McDonald’s in the near future. In this case, I’m happy to say that all five of the Rangers have a future in Hollywood. Each actor has a certain “it” factor about them that typically leads to successful careers. I thought the film balanced each of them very nicely, allowing for each Ranger to show off their charisma and wit.
The big standout of the film comes from RJ Cyler, the Blue Ranger. Cyler began the film a little annoying, but he slowly became more comfortable in his role, showing off his funny bone with countless quips. The film also had the guts to take his character in a certain direction that we rarely see with an eccentric personality, especially from big a tent-pole studio production. There’s something to latch onto from each actor for that matter, so I would advise you to remember the names of each of the Rangers, as they may be in many more films for years to come.
What I Didn’t Like
The creative behind Power Rangers should certainly send each of the Rangers a gift basket as they masked a lot of issues the film has with its writing. For about 80% of this film, there are no actual Power Rangers (in that they aren’t in the armor). After a first act that feels like the Breakfast Club for kids with super powers, the film gets bogged down in a long series of training montages that feels awfully repetitive. The film clocks in at a shade over two hours, but the film would’ve greatly benefited from being closer to an hour and forty minutes.
Power Rangers also has a tonal issue that becomes increasingly obvious as the film progresses. This attempt at Power Rangers tries to distance itself from the overly cheesy Mighty Morphin Power Rangers of the 90’s by being more grounded in reality. While it certainly is not dark and gritty, there’s an obvious effort to make the Power Rangers less silly than its predecessors. However, this tone is undermined totally by Elizabeth Banks’ portrayal of the villain, Rita Repulsa.
The film introduces her character in somewhat of a horrific manner which I thought played nicely, but then she starts spouting dialogue and acting in a manner that is much more in line with the campy nature of the television show. It almost seemed like she was given dialogue for a different movie altogether. For those who aren’t fans of the Power Rangers, they may consider her the worst villain of the year by the time 2017 is over with because she is that ridiculous.
From a classical critic standpoint, Power Rangers is not a good movie. I can picture a ton old, crotchety film critics leaving this film shouting about how movies aren’t as good as they were in the 70’s, but Power Rangers has a certain quality about it that’s hard to pin down that makes it a worthwhile film. There are countless issues that I could easily nitpick, but there’s an undeniable amount of charm that can’t be ignored. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t smile when the Rangers put their Zords together and made the Megazord. There’s entertainment to be had here, even if the film gets bogged down in side plots and has the most blatant piece of product placement ever put to film.
In the end, Power Rangers is a big dumb action flick that won’t please the most hardened of critics but will attract an audience of people looking for a fun time at the theaters. It gets a B-. For those that are hardcore fans of the source material, there are some fun nods to the original that will put a smile on your face.
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