Sep 1, 2017

[Movies] Power Rangers (2017) Review

While I technically grew up with the likes of Bioman and Maskman, having a younger brother meant that I also got to experience the beginning of Saban's Power Rangers, or the effort to recapture the Sentai magic but in America. The show was actual pretty great and made good use of Sentai fighting footage from the Japanese shows. And so more than a generation of kids came to appreciate teenagers with attitude.

I was instinctively suspicious of the Power Rangers reboot as it felt too much like the dark and gritty movies that are all the rage these days instead of the ridiculous, bright-colored mad adventure that the original series (and its strange movies) was. There's this odd Hollywood notion that something "realistic" must be dark, grey and muted.

As reboot origin movie, things could have been a heck of a lot faster than how they turned out. There was some effort to have interesting characters but the situations that brought them together were rather contrived. In other words, it was a weird movie, but not my sort of weird movie.

Synopsis: Power Rangers is a 2017 American superhero action movie directed by Dean Israelite. The screenplay was written by John Gatins and the movie acts as a reboot of the US franchise, but perhaps only covering the movie segment.

Quick flashback to the Cenozoic era and we see another incarnation of the Power Rangers fighting one of their own - the woman who would be known as Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). As a last-ditch effort, the Red Ranger Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and hides the Power Coins that are the source of their power.

In modern day Angel Grove, we meet Jason (Dacre Montgomery), former quarterback but now under house arrest. There's Kimberly (Naomi Scott), former cheerleader but now ostracized from her old clique. There's Billy (RJ Cyler) and intelligent yet autistic introvert who is naturally bullied a lot. Somehow their paths cross together with Trini (Becky G), a not straight girl, and Zack (Ludi Lin), a teen dealing with a sick mother. They manage to find the Power Coins and this leads to them becoming the Power Rangers But they have to figure out what that even means before Rita Repulsa can fully awaken and terrorize the town.

What I Liked: The were aspects of some of the individual character stories that were definitely of value even if they felt a little contrived at times or just placed there for the sake of being there. Character backgrounds that include someone with autism and someone confused about her sexuality make for great sound bites in press interviews and they had great moments to highlight this but other cases when they didn't feel all that developed as ideas beyond their stereotypes.

Beyond some of the weird jumps around the city, they really tried to give them a bit more backstory apart from how their being Power Rangers might completely take over one's life and thus no other stories become possible. So good job for Zack having a sick mother and how they portrayed this without a need for expository dialog and other moments of that nature.

What Could Have Been Better: The movie takes forever to get to the actual Power Ranger part of things. What we get is a lot of back story, a lot of sad training sequences that don't seem all that effective and a rushed confrontation at the end of things. I respect the need for an origin element to this movie but I think too much time was lost there and it's not like they ever clearly defined what being a Ranger means in terms of powers or abilities.

And there were a lot of quirks to the story that really felt like bad writing. Rita's big plan was very, very strange and  Goldar was such a let-down of a monster. The phrase "Krispy Kreme" was included in the script way too much in some of the most blatant product placement we've seen in a while. There are just so many questions triggered by the movie's internal logic not making sense. I know it's meant for kids, but can someone explain why Trini and Zack were randomly hanging out in the mountains such that they could stumble across Jason, Billy and Kimberly (and they had randomly bumped into Kimberly first). And how did they all end up back in their respective homes after the incident after they got their Power Coins?

TL;DR: Obviously I didn't really enjoy this Power Rangers movie reboot since it had way too much of the grit and not enough of the crazy fun spirit that originally defined the show. It was a lot of posturing only to end in a very quick and ridiculous fight all for a Krispy Kreme location. Thus the movie gets 1.5 sad realizations of good actors who got involved in this movie out of a possible 5.

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