Video By: VIOL-ENT Media
In a world saturated with superhero blockbusters, it was only a matter of time until Saban Entertainment would go and give their prized franchise a modern reboot. Directed by Dean Israelite (Project Almanac, 2015), Power Rangers is a feature-film reimagining of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV Show from 1993. It follows a group of five teenagers who stumble upon ancient coins that grant them extraordinary abilities. With these newly acquired powers and with the guidance of Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), they must defend the earth from a looming threat, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks); an alien witch who has a penchant for making monsters grow. The film follows the same formula seen in each season of the Power Rangers TV show. It gathers a number of ‘teenagers with attitude’ who each fit into a different stereotypical high school clique. They must learn to work together to forge a new team of Rangers and, ultimately, a team based on friendship.
Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), the Red Ranger, is the ex-star of Angel Grove High School’s football team after being busted for a prank gone wrong.
Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), the Blue Ranger, is intelligent and sweet but also bullied for being perceived as different.
Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), the Pink Ranger, who was once a popular cheerleader. She struggles to find her new identity after being ousted from her former group.
Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin), the Black Ranger, is the rebellious and impulsive type who turns to humour as a way to hide his true feelings.
Trini Kwan (Becky G), the Yellow Ranger, is the quiet but observant new girl of Angel Grove High School. She stylizes herself as a loner, as she spends a majority of her time at the mines.
This retelling of the Power Rangers paints a darker tone in comparison to its predecessor. These chosen five are ostracized, misunderstood, and troubled in their own sense. It is a high contrast from the bright and sunny tone found in the TV series, though that’s not to say that it isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself at times. For instance, there is a moment when the group begins to glow their ranger colors and Zack yells “I’m black”, while Billy shouts “no you’re not!” This is meant to criticize the original show as they were accused of racist casting. The color grading is darker but the overall tone of the film does shift around. Whenever the scene featured the rangers together, the tone was more campy; but when it switched to Rita, it became heavily dark – sometimes a little too much. Don’t expect it to be action-packed all the way through the full 2 hour run time. There was a lot going on, as the film lays down the groundwork for the modern Power Rangers cinematic universe. That’s right, this film is the first of a six-film story arc. There were many scenes of set-up, for example: Rita Repulsa’s awakening, and her accumulating enough gold to rebuild her monster Goldar, the glimpses of each Ranger’s family life which showcased how the rangers acted around family versus the other members. Unlike the television series, when the rangers morph there is no power-morpher involved. Throughout the film they try morphing many times, and… to the dismay of the fans of the original Power Rangers, when they do finally morph there is a lack of roll call and shouting-the-name-of-the-prehistoric-beast-that-his-or-her-powers-represent. I like the fact that Billy and Trini are the first heroes in the series to be representative of those on the Autism spectrum and in the LGBTQ+ community. The Power Rangers have proven time and time again that they are inclusive to everyone.
The modern take on Kimberly stuck out to me the most, though I could be reading too far into this… The Pink Ranger is typically the “girly”, “innocent”, and sometimes “ditzy” member of the group. After learning about her secret as to why she was put into detention in the first place, it reminded me of the first scene we see of her as she cuts her hair. Putting two and two together, it seems like that act was her shedding her innocence. According to the way of the Samurai, haircutting is a means to start fresh; it’s “dividing the person I was from who I want to be”.
I am still unsure as to how I feel about the fact that they have permanently enhanced physical abilities. To elaborate a bit, it seems like as long as they have the “Power Coin” with them, they have super strength, speed, durability, etc. In the series, the rangers only had access to these powers when they morphed into a Power Ranger. The final battle scene with all the Zords contains all the best moments for me personally. It starts off with the team finally learning how to morph and we get to see them fight a number of monsters from Rita’s army (and yes they were called “Putties” just like in the show). A wave of nostalgia hits when we get see the team piloting their Zords for the first time and getting into formation along with the original Mighty Morphin’ theme song playing in the background. “Okay Rangers, now let’s get in formation…” It’s during these final moments that Power Rangers feels just like the end sequence of just about any Power Rangers episode.
It was a lot of fun and campy, especially with the entire Krispy Kreme product placement, and let’s not forget the cameos! In a “blink-and-you-just-might-miss-it” / “maybe-you-never-saw-the-original” scene… a crowd of people take photos and look on in amazement at their saviours in the Megazord. Within this crowd are Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank, the former Pink and Green Rangers from the original run of Mighty Morphin’. Who would’ve thought…
[SPOILER ALERT – The following talks about possible plot directions the movie franchise may decide to go with…] After defeating Rita Repulsa, she utters a warning to the Rangers before being launched into space. She tells them that there will be others who will also try and take the Zeo Crystals. And then she is swatted into space and seems like she’s heading towards the moon. Based on the plot from the Mighty Morphin’ show, a number things could happen...
The next film might introduce Lord Zedd, who has enslaved many evils throughout the galaxy, including Rita. In the series, they reside in the ‘Moon Palace’, which acts as their base of operations. For those who have not seen Power Rangers Zeo; the Zeo Crystals are the power source for that specific group of Rangers. So it’s possible that this current cast may pass the torch to a new set of Rangers by the sixth movie?
In the mid-credits scene no one was expecting, the name ‘Tommy Oliver’ is being called for attendance while the camera zooms in on a green jacket at an empty desk. It’s safe to assume that the sequel will feature this major character from the series that started out as Rita’s evil henchman. [END of Spoilers] The film comes full circle, as we see the crew together in detention again. If you think about it, they’re like the Breakfast Club… with super powers. In essence, 2017’s Power Rangers is a great superhero movie film that is although slow at the beginning (being an origin film of sorts), retain it’s campy-but-fun style for the whole family. Was it an epic 2 hours and 4 minutes? Meh.
It wasn’t awful, and it wasn’t exhilarating, but I would totally go-go again.
My final rating of this movie is 3.5 Rangers out of 5. The plot wasn’t as deep as it could’ve been due to it being an origin story. Visuals were great, but nothing fantastic, and the production seemed really good. The cast was cool, though other than Rj Cyler’s Billy Cranston, I can’t see anyone who could breakout on their own.