Film Review – Power Rangers


DIRECTED BY: Dean Israelite

STARRING: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks

 

SYNOPSIS

A group of high-school kids, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world.

Power Rangers focuses on five teenagers in Angel Grove, who stumble upon an old alien ship and acquire superpowers and become the newest generation in a line of warriors known as the Power Rangers. Learning that an old enemy of the previous generation, Rita Repulsa, has returned to destroy the world it’s up to the new Power Rangers to overcome their personal issues and work together to save the world.

The Power Rangers franchise has had quite the following that has had it span multiple spinoff after the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which is adapted here for the big screen in 2017. I grew up on the original show and absolutely loved the Power Rangers, from the characters right down to the fight sequences, be it hand-to-hand combat or zords versus monsters. It was simpler times then and I was at just the right age to enjoy the original series and the utter cheese of it all. When it was announced that Lionsgate were going to make a film based on the original characters, I was slightly skeptical. Even the trailers and promotional pictures weren’t winning me over, I was still going into the film with some optimism and hoping that the film would at least be a decent time at the cinema.

 

The main thing that the film focused on and it happens to be its major strength is the core characters – Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Trini and Zack. Each character is given their own distinct traits and personal issues that audiences can relate to. Jason Scott appears to be your average High School jock that is trying to find out who he wants to become, Kimberly Hart is a depressive who’s shunned from her circle of friends for texting an embarrassing photo of a classmate, Billy Cranston is a science-geek on the Autistic Spectrum, Trini is the outsider from High School that keeps to herself and Zack is the self-proclaimed crazy one. On paper the characters are paper-thin, but the film spends time building on the relationships amongst the characters and the cast take the material seriously enough to make you care about them. Personally for me, R.J Cyler was the standout from the cast playing Billy Cranston as he provides intelligence, emotional heart and humour to make his character the most memorable. While his character’s personal issues may be the weakest of the group, Darce Montgomery definitely makes his material work better than it should do. Naomi Scott is good as Kimberly, with her personal issue actually taking an interesting direction that I didn’t think it would go. Ludi Lin is unfortunately somewhat given the least to do compared to the rest, though the story of him looking after his sick mother was a nice balance from his self-proclaimed ‘crazy’ antics. Becky G also provides a good performance as Trini, a character that fills the Power Rangers motto of ‘teenagers with attitude’. Bryan Cranston provides the motion capture performance for Zordon and is solid in that department as he sarcastically judges the fact that these group of teenagers are the selection to become Power Rangers.

 

While much has been made over the last week of Trini being the first LGBT superhero on the big screen, it is mentioned in the briefest of ways in a conversation amongst the characters and if you managed to head to the bathroom or back to the counter for some more sweets you would be none the wiser about that particular part of the character. Pretty much the issues brought up about the characters aren’t really much resolved in any way, though I’m sure (I’m hoping) that was deliberate from Israelite and John Gatins as I’m sure the studio are aiming to have a franchise following these characters. The one character arc that I had an issue with was the resolution to Kimberly’s….as in there was none, considering what hers was all about. I mentioned that Montgomery had the weakest material to work with out of the group and that was unfortunately due to his plight being….rather uninteresting in comparison to the rest of the cast. In terms of performances, I wasn’t a fan of Bill Hader’s Alpha 5, that most notably stood in as Zordon’s cheerleader repeating soundbites of what he said. I understand that he’s the balance of light to their training as Zordon is sarcastic towards them but Alpha 5 just didn’t work for me here. THe one factor that will polarise opinions is Elizabeth Banks performance as Rita Repulsa…..her performance feels like it’s a straight adaptation of the 90’s television show…if it went all out for the campy/cheese adaptation. While her characters introduction in the present day has some interesting horror qualities, once she regains full form and her powers, Banks gives it HAM Factor 40 and completely stands out, for better or worse, as the rest of the cast plays it so seriously. While I give it props for being a big budget film that actually puts character first, the final act goes all out for the action extravaganza and some of the CGI is questionable, especially when it comes to Goldar. Granted my seven-year-old self grinned from ear-to-ear when the zords came out to play with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme (the ’95 film version I believe?) booming through the screening, it still feels like the action went on a little too long. Then there’s a few things that brought the film down for me and I’m sure one in particular will put people off instantly as it’s in the opening scene where Jason’s friend claims to have milked a bull….it’s just so out of left field with the rest of the film and then there’s the part where Krispy Kremes becomes heavily involved in the plot of the film, to the point where even Rita Repulsa can’t resist trying one out. Personally I’ll laugh about the Krispy Kremes produce placement as they certainly got their moneys worth.

 

 

VERDICT

The cast take the material with enough seriousness that it makes the film work better for me, with R.J Cyler, Naomi Scott and Darce Montgomery being the standouts here. Elizabeth Banks provides a campy performance that’ll be a nod to the original material though it will be distracting for some audiences. The film has a hard time distinguishing what tone it wants to cement itself with and the film kind of stalls in the middle. While it’s a film that places character first over spectacle, the final act manages to feel somewhat of a letdown after all the buildup. Considering I had no expectations with the film, I managed to have a good time with it at the cinema. It’ll be interesting to see whether this will appease the hardcore fans and win over new ones.  6/10

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