Director: Dean Israelite
Quick Hit: High school outcasts stumble upon an old alien ship, where they acquire superpowers and are dubbed the Power Rangers. Learning that an old enemy of the previous generation has returned to exact vengeance, the group must harness their powers and use them to work together and save the world. – IMDB
THE GOOD: DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING
Look… I am ON RECORD stating that I was nervous about this film because I had no clue who the actual target audience was. I felt there were too many changes to actually stir nostalgia and too many thing that looked like other franchises staples. I was afraid that in an attempt to be “cool” the story was going to be lost. To my surprise and delight, the exact opposite happened.
How many people praise the likes of The Dark Knight and Logan for being “movies that transcend the comic book genre”, is how I feel about this film. I am NOT saying Power Rangers belongs in the same category, but that the execution was to that caliber. They came in with a very clear vision and followed through in an entertaining manner that not only paid respect to the source material but also firmly establishes a new brand and franchise.
This cast of relative unknown leads is solid! I believe they are teenagers. I believe they are going through their individual family issues. I believe they actually become friends. Nothing feels forced or faked. The star of the film for me is RJ Cyler as Billy Cranston/Blue Ranger. Elizabeth Banks is a slightly campy, slightly scary Rita Repulsa and Bryan Cranston does the damn thing as Zordon! Bill Hader as Alpha 5 was not as weird as I was expecting at all and the design looked fine when in motion on screen.
THE BAD: PRODUCT PLACEMENT
I will get into this deeper in the Spoiler section… but you know how the Transformers movies have the MOST egregious product placement? Galvetron turning into a Beats Pill… giant Good Year poster in the background of all the destruction… and of course… Budwiser…
So… Power Rangers ends up doing something similar… no where near as bad but it was definitely a little “on the nose” for my tastes. Other than that, I really don’t have much bad to say about this film without spoilers… soooo…
I had a sense that this movie was going to be good from one of the very first action scenes. There is a car chase with Jason and the police. They director chose to shoot it as one continuous shot from inside Jason’s car. It was creative, it put you right in the action, and when he ultimately crashed… you FELT it. That set me up to know that they had firm control of their vision and it was going to be an awesome one.
Remember when the entire internet went… “Why is Rita wearing Green… is she the green ranger?!” and eventually the studio was like… “yeah”. Well they show that to you right upfront. Not only does this ground the tone of the film, but it helps make motivations clear. It gives meaning to the Zords looking how they look. It was very deliberate change for the better. Giving her history with Zordon, insider information on the Rangers, and a real reason to be on Earth help alleviate some of the campy feel from the TV show.
Even down to the very end with the original Might Morhpin’ Tommy (Jason David Frank) and Kimberly (Amy Jo Johnson) having a cameo (without corny speaking lines, thank god!) and the mid credits teaser that a Tommy Oliver (gender pending) is set to join the rest of the crew in Angel Grove High detention, this movie was just well thought out!
…that product placement though… Rita is searching for the Zeo Crystal. This is the most important obect on the face of the Earth is it is buried under KRISPY KREME!
Like, I think they visit the shop a couple times in the film too, which is fine, but having THE GREATEST OBJECT ON THE PLANET below Krispy Kreme is a lot. Also, the KK cross promotional doughnuts look gross…
This isn’t so much bad as it is maybe just a nit pick… but how do the Zords work after 65 million years?! Like… no rust what so ever. And did the power of love save the Rangers from that pit, because they had no idea they could combine the Zords. AND JUST HOW MUCH DAMN GOLD IS IN ANGEL GROVE?! It looks like a small fishing town, but they have a damn Krispy Kreme and enough gold to make Mr. T cringe from all the excess…
Again… those are nitpicks and didn’t really interfere with my enjoyment of the film.
OVERALL: GOOD FRANCHISE STARTER
If you go into this film wanting a super campy nostalgia romp, then you will not like this film. If you want an adaptation that is both respectful of your nostalgia, well written, well executed, and just a damn good time, then this is the movie for you. Six or seven of these still may be a bit much, but I can see them knocking a trilogy clear out the park based on this one!