Folks…how much does nostalgia work on you when it concerns movies like this one?
Because truthfully, this film is RELIANT on you for not really remembering the show. It’s banking on your vague ideas of what the show was, and is hoping that you have a fondness for the old colorful costumes, the giant robots, and the over the top villains.
See, for me, I’ve somehow retained all my knowledge of the show. I don’t have vague memories of it…the memories of this show still rings clear.
But I’m not gonna give this film a simple pass for just being Power Rangers.
It needed to be a flick that can be it’s own thing, but remember what made the show fun for so many kids.
For the most part…I think it worked.
The film clearly takes it’s cues from other blockbusters; a little dash of Bay’s Transformers, a pinch of The Avengers, some Raimi Spider-Man, a good scoop of Chronicle, a heaping dose of The Breakfast Club (which I think was a MUCH needed ingredient.) and even a sprinkling of Batman Begins. But the film moves at such a brisk pace that I don’t mind recognizing the references (or just flat out STEALING) from the other movies.
How are the new Rangers? Honestly, I quiet like them. Clearly the fan favorite in my theater crowd was Billy, played with sweetness and sincerity by RJ Cyler. Ludi Lin is really likable as Zack, showing some massive amounts of charm and vulnerability. Truthfully, I feel that Ludi as Zack is gonna be a pretty significant Asian American representation. His relationship with his mother is one that most AsianAms (myself included) will relate to. Even the fact that this Zack speaks Mandarin (his families native language) when he’s around his mom is something else a lot of AsianAms can seen themselves in. With the still fresh controversy surrounding Iron Fist and Ghost in the Shell, it’s nice to know that in theaters RIGHT NOW we have a fun, cool Asian Am superhero in the form of Zack the Black Ranger.
Becky G as Trini is displaying some fun spunk and attitude. Naomi Scott is doing some strong work as Kimberly and Dacre Montgomery is selling Jason really well. Dacre has to deliver some particularly cheesy Red Ranger/Jason lines and he’s doing it pretty convincingly that I don’t think he looks like an ass when he’s talking about team work and friendship.
The movie surprisingly never forgets that at the heart of the show’s concept (which is also at the heart of it’s source material Super Sentai) is about friendship and teamwork. The film takes it’s time to let the kids get to know each other, be friends, get into arguments, apologize for arguing, laugh, and have fun together. Truthfully, they don’t REALLY become the Power Rangers till the last act, but I liked spending time with them that I didn’t mind.
There are tonal shifts trough out the film. There’s some questionable lewd jokes here and there that I personally would have left out. There’s a moment in the middle of the flick that has a secret reveal from Kimberly that I felt was too serious of an issue to be used in this films context. I understand the purpose of the Kimberly’s secret and what they wanted out of it, but I felt they should have gone another route with it. The film has a hard time really balancing the really serious and the really goofy elements. Sometimes it work and sometimes it was jarring.
The fun of the film does come from Elizabeth Banks portrayal of Rita Repulsa. Banks is having a ball as Rita, hamming it up just enough to get a few of Rita’s attitude in the film, but also does a good job of showcasing her mean streak.
Bryan Cranston and Bill Hader deliver EXACTLY what they were asked to do as Zordon and Alpha 5. Cranston brings some good gravitas in the part of Zordon, and Hader brings the legit laughs as the goofy robot. Hader even found natural delivery moments for him to say Alpha’s iconic catchphrase. The film even gives Zordon an arc, and while it does feels a bit forced, the arc mostly works and it does give Zordon a nice character beat.
When the film finally gets to the Ranger action (wearing the suits, fighting Putties and Zord piloting) it’s decent, but I certainly wish there was more. The fight with the Putties is competently shot, but overall felt it could have been longer with some stronger action beats and better fight choreography. The Zord battle at the end was fun and I even enjoyed the Megazord throw down with Goldar.
Bryan Tyler’s music sadly just felt very generic. It’s typical blockbuster movie score music, with a little bit of 80’s synth style score to try to liven it up. And if you were wondering, yes the shows theme song IS used…but it’s use is kind of sloppy and too short. I have no idea why modern blockbusters are allergic to using real theme music, but here we are and this movie continues that new very boring tradition.
Director Dean Israelite does some solid work in the directing side. The film’s first have as a few flashy (and even clever) camera shots, editing and just fun style. Like I said, the action that Israelite directs is mostly decent (at least I can see what people are doing). Arguably, the best fight he shot is a Rita fight in the middle of the flick.
Overall, I think this is a very entertaining start of what they hope to be a series of films. This much I can say for sure…I like it much more than any of the Bay Transformer films, and I like it much more that the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film. Future Power Ranger movies (at the very least, we’ll get one more.) will have plenty of things to learn from the mistakes on this one. Clear the tone, shoot the fights better, and more Rita. Much more Rita.
But hey, even as is, I thought this was a decent flick. I don’t think it will convert any of the folks who are snarky at this franchise, but if you were excited to see this, you might end up enjoying it.