Sunday, March 26, 2017

Movie Review: Power Rangers (2017)

Back in the 90's every kid knew what it was like to catch the latest episode of "Power Rangers" every Friday night on TV. Every one had their favorite Ranger that they identified with. Children playing outside the house (yes kids, once upon a time we went outside to play and did not rely on gadgets for entertainment) would be shouting "It's morphin time!" with matching hand gestures. 

Of course, before the "Power Rangers" there were also the Super Sentai series from Japan like "Bioman" and "Jetman" to which we 90's kids also grew up watching. So this Sentai/Ranger culture has always been a way for kids to escape and play and be someone they admired and now decades later a new team of "Power Rangers" steps onto the big screen to become the unexpected heroes to a whole new generation and to also be a source of nostalgia to the then children who once pretended to be Rangers and are now tax-paying adults.   

In an age of remakes, reboots and super hero movies, 2017's "Power Rangers" knew what they wanted for the movie and went for it with as much guts as these new angsty Teenagers. 

Writing the movie with a Young Adult audience in mind, director Dean Israelite wanted a contemporary film which was real and grounded on today's teenagers and this is what this new team of Power Rangers is. A band of social outsiders and misfits, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cylder), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G)- each carrying their own problems who accidentally come together one fateful night in a quarry and discover "power coins" of different colors. They then discover a change in their physical strength and return to investigate. 

What they find is an alien spaceship where they discover that millions of years ago (specifically, the Cenozoic era) a team of alien "Power Rangers" led by Bryan Cranston (Zordon) as the Red Ranger defended the Earth's Zeo Crystal. (Each planet has their own respective Zeo Crystal, which is the source of all life). Audiences then confirm an early fan theory that Elizabeth Banks (originally cast as villain Rita Repulsa) was also the Green Ranger and betrayed the team for her own gains. Cranston's Red Ranger calls on the meteor that hits the earth, killing the dinosaurs and in turn him and throws Rita into the sea. Now trapped into the ship's matrix, Cranston calls on the five teenagers to become the new Power Rangers.        

With the return of the power coins aboard the spaceship and what could possibly be a new team of Rangers, the evil that is Rita Repulsa rises from the sea and is intent on continuing where she left off, which is destroying the Earth by taking its Zeo crystal. 

Now the new Rangers must begin training to prepare to battle Rita Repulsa, unfortunately for them "morphin" into the Power Rangers isn't so easy as they have to 'think about each other' and when five teenagers with unknown baggage just get together- there is a lot on the plate. 

So while after school specials include physical training, care of Alpha 5 in "the pit" and the team is no closer to "morphin" into their Ranger armor and everyone is getting frustrated and upset and all the while Rita Repulsa is slowly getting her plan in motion. 

With probably a multi movie arc in mind, this origin movie takes a long  time to get to the action and to 90's kids, that could be a little frustrating. You see, there are risks to writing a story which devotes more time to character development (like about 3/4 of the month) and just spending about 1/4 with the actually fighting. For one, you have a solid character development, this one I think is more for the young adult audience (as I mentioned earlier) and for another you risk disappointing older fans who are used to the action. So it really boils down to what the viewer takes home. I myself wan't too happy with the design of the Zords and the Megazord. Baddie Goldar wasn't to my liking as well. 

Props to featuring a very diverse set of rangers (aside from race), we  have a socially awkward Billy Cranston (Blue Ranger) - he's kind of like Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory. That has OCD and can't get jokes and sarcasm. We also have Trini (Yellow Ranger) who is struggling with her family as she deals with her own sexuality; or as Zach (Black Ranger) puts it "Girlfriend problems". Representation is important and I think that is something which this batch of Rangers definitely have. Would definitely have to commend the performance of RJ Clyder as Bill/Blue Ranger, I've seen him in "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" and I'm really impressed with his acting. Especially since his character is not teenager angst and that sets him apart from his team mates. Elizabeth Banks also gets a nod for her Rita Repulsa take.        

6/10  "Power Rangers" can be nostalgia for an older generation and a discovery for a new one. Whatever it is and wherever you fit in, its still a good ride in the cinema, probably not on one of those Zords though. Oh! And stay after the movie! There's a mid-credits scene you might want to stick around for!  

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