Saban’s Power Rangers (2017)

Image result for power rangers movie poster

I used to watch the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers when it was on FOX Kids in the 1990s.  Honestly, I watched it as a time waster until The Tick came on, but I did watch it.  I knew it for the cheesy, repetitive and over-the-top show that it was.  I did not hate it.  I did not love it.  It just was.

I was interested in seeing the new movie version of the show, however.  It had a different vibe on display in the trailers that made me feel that some of the things I did not like about the TV show were going to change.

And, now that I have seen Power Rangers, I must say that I think this was a fun film, with enough of a new tone and enough of the old tone to make everyone happy.

Five teenagers, all with a multitude of personal problems, wind up finding these “coins” of different colors in an underground cavern and they realize that they now had super powers.  Investigating further, the kids discover an underground space ship where Zordon (Bryan Cranston), a giant head in a wall, and a robot Alpha Five (Bill Hader) reside and Zordon informs these teens that they are the new Power Rangers.

Oh, and the villainous Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) is coming and she is going to kill everyone on earth.

Geez, thanks Zordon.

I kind of expected that the new Power Rangers movie would not hold my attention, but it started out well.  It had an initial Breakfast Club meets Chronicle feel that really grabbed my interest.  The film took its time to introduce us to these new teenagers and to show us their lives, their troubles and their struggles.  I really dug that and I think it made this a considerably stronger film than I believed it would be.

I also enjoyed the performances of the actors cast as the Power Rangers.  Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler) in particular were the standouts in the cast of the super hero team.  That takes nothing away from the other two Rangers (Becky G and Ludi Lin), but these first three really did most of the heavy lifting of the story.  Billy especially is the breakout character of the film.  It seemed as if the character was implied to have Asperger’s Syndrome ( a form of Autism) and I found that to be an intriguing choice for the Blue Ranger.

We did not get any costumed action until very late in the movie.  That was a risky move for the film, but I think it really paid off.  We got to see this group of kids form a connection with each other that was stronger than “we are a group of heroes and we have to save the world.”  This time put into the connection between the Rangers really added to the moment at the end when they finally do morph into their battle armor.

When the Power Rangers do fight, the film gives long time viewers a distinct flavor of the old show.  I am certain that this was intentional.  That first fight between the Rangers and the Putties could have come straight out of the first season.  There were actually several bits of nostalgia tossed into the film like this that really helped pepper the flavor of the Power Rangers into the new film.

I liked Rita Repulsa early in the film.  She had a horror movie feel to her, but in the third act, she felt way too over-the-top and cheesy.  It was as she was exactly like the Rita from the TV show, and, since the movie had changed much of the tone, Rita worked against the movie.  Not that she ruined the film for me, but it was definitely noticeable.

I was also not the hugest fan of the third act slugfest involving the Zords.  I am sure that the real fans of the original series will love the ending though and that is a good thing.  I liked it more when the Zords combined into the Mega-Zord.

While this was not a great movie, it was fun and that will help out any flaws that might be there.  The characters of the Power Rangers were much more developed than any time before and the connection between the Rangers was not ignored.  The beginning section of the film where we see Zordon and Rita in their last battle over earth was a cool way to start the film and the acting was surprisingly good, from the teenagers to Bryan Cranston.  The film effectively balanced the tone of the old series and the new film, making sure that there was something in the film for everybody.  I think that this is an effective way to kick off the new franchise, and… with the mid credits scene…we may have our hint for the next film’s storyline.  And it is one that will turn all the former fans of the Power Rangers GREEN with envy (see what I did there?)

3.3 stars

 

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