Thoughts on Power Rangers (2017)

SPOILERS!

I guess you could call me a bit of a fan of the original franchise. I watched the original series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-1996), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995); Power Rangers Turbo, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (both 1997) and my personal favourite, Power Rangers in Space (1998). When I heard they were making a new movie, I knew I had to see it for nostalgic sake.

First off though, the original was made for children and I don’t think this adaptation is geared towards them. As an origin story, the movie is made in a way to introduce new fans to the franchise while letting adults relive their childhood, in a way. But the movie does feel quite long (124 minutes long) with a lot of dialogue. At times it feels more like a teen drama than an action-adventure, at least for 3/4 of the movie. Director Dean Israelite said he wanted to make the film more “character-driven and incorporating naturalism and a grounded nature. While I feel like this was a mistake and makes for a mostly unsuccessful reboot, there is some merit in that. He has ideas for a six-movie story arch, so perhaps these decisions will make more sense in the long run.

In terms of the genre, there’s many other better movies out there. I also feel they turned Zordon (Bryan Cranston) into kind of a dick and made Rita (Elizabeth Banks) too scary. My heart did gleam when they played the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme song, although briefly, during the final battle.

The film is a reboot that features the main characters of the original series. In the film, five high school students are chosen by Zordon, with the help of Alpha 5, to become the new Power Rangers to essentially save the world – or California, more appropriately.

I don’t remember the original series being filled with such stereotypical characters, but maybe it was and I just chose not to remember. We have the popular jock who ruins his future – the red ranger, Jason Scott (as played by Dacre Montgomery). Naomi Scott plays Kimberly Hart, the pink ranger, the pretty popular ex-cheerleader who wants to find her own voice and figure out who she is. Billy Cranston, the blue ranger (played by RJ Cyler) is the quirky nerd who has a thing for explosives, as you do. Yellow ranger, Trini Kwan (Becky G) is the closet outcast. And lastly, we have Zack Taylor, the black ranger (played by Ludi Lin), the kind guy who takes care of his Mum.

With no fight training beforehand (that we know of), the rangers seem an odd choice. I had a hard time believing that they could become superheroes in the span of a week – no matter how hard they trained. And the fact that they have to wait until one of them dies – literally dies – before they can power up is ridiculous. They also discover their zords can morph together to become the megazord when they’re about to die. Would it not have been beneficial to tell them of this earlier?

Yes, I’m all for them coming together to have to morph but it happens way too soon and in an unbelievable way. Although it is a sign of the times and accepting our differences with the inclusion of bringing awareness to Autism, cultural diversity and the LGBT community.

It’s hard to clearly define the good and bad – because the things I liked were also the things I didn’t. This comes into comparing it too much to the original and it’s jarring/sometimes silly nature.

I’m honestly torn if I enjoyed it or not. I did in some regards, and I didn’t in others.

The thing I liked about the original was the lack of stories. I liked how they would just kill the monster of the week. Who cared about their backstories or why they were chosen? Every episode was basically the same – and I liked that. Granted, I was a kid when I watched it so if there was any ounce of story, I probably wouldn’t remember.

For example, I didn’t even realise that Zordon or Rita were aliens. As a kid, I guess I just saw them as humans will some kind of magical powers. Kind of silly really now that I think about it – but so I did enjoy the first few minutes of the film where we get some backstory on Rita and Zordon. It was also nice because it did bring back a lot of memories from the series. I spent a lot of the film going, “oh yeah, that’s who that is” etc. In a way, I’ll probably enjoy it more the second time because I will have a bit more knowledge behind me – and I would like to reward the original movie as well to help.

I guess Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks were brought in for some kind of star power, but I would have preferred all unknowns. But that’s a personal thing.

Graphics are good. Special effects are also good, as expected. The ranger costumes got a major upgrade. They’re way less lame than the original. I personally like the originals, the ones of fantasy, rather than the metal, practical ones. The image of the rangers in skin tight lycra is so embedded in Power Rangers culture, that I feel like it was a shame to change that. Fans of the original will also enjoy the cameos.

While it doesn’t have the charm of the original (IE less lame), it’s hard to tell if hardcore nostalgics will enjoy this movie or not. It is okay – but does feel more like a teen drama above anything else. The ending leaves open for a sequel and the return of Tommy Oliver, the green ranger (stay back during the credits).

Also – I wonder how much Starbucks paid them to have their brand so forcefully pushed  throughout the film?!

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