UK Release: 23/03/2017
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks
The Power Rangers are back. But can they stand up to a smarter audience?
Nostalgia. A lot of films these days attempt to utilise the appeal of nostalgia to their now grown up audience.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers… there are loads of them. Power Rangers is no different, but director Dean Israelite does try to bring something more meaningful to the proceedings than a two-hour long toy advert.
A bit of an improvement on the original.
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Of course, the 2017 Power Rangers reboot is not in continuity with the show, or its earlier big screen outing. It’s a full-on Americanised reboot of the Haim Saban franchise – an origin story film that spends most of its run time on the origin, with little room for action. Unfortunately it suffers for it.
But there may be a bit more substance than meets the eye.
A group of teenagers (with attitude problems, mostly) are chosen to become Power Rangers. An ancient group of warriors that protect the galaxy from evil. You know the story. Zordon (voiced by Bryan Cranston) does his best to be a mentor to the Power Rangers while each of the rangers: Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Billy (RJ Cyler), Trini (Becky G) and Zack (Ludi Lin) do their best with the material that’s given to them.
The original show was as cheesy as it gets, and no amount of nostalgia can make that work here.
Still, they try…
One of the big problems? Tonally, Power Rangers is all over the place. At times, it’s going for legitimate teenage drama – the rangers all have their own problems, some more sympathetic than others. But the film struggles to balance these moments with the awe of them discovering their new powers and the responsibility of becoming a team. There are some nice ideas, but where it falls flat is the execution. As mentioned earlier, this film is largely an origin story. All the real action scenes do not turn up until the final act…. and that’s a real shame. There are plenty of speeches and emotional breakthroughs throughout, but they ring hollow for the most part and don’t feel earned.
Then there’s the film’s villain…
The single biggest problem with Power Rangers is its villainess: Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).
Initially, she evokes horror-esque vibes as she’s discovered at the bottom of the ocean. However, once she’s up and about she becomes exactly the sort of campy, over the top villain that would have been acceptable in the show’s earlier days. That’s great… but it really has no business being in this film.
Power Rangers does its best to turn her into a legitimate threat, but the constant reminder of Uma Thurman in Batman And Robin makes it impossible to take her seriously – even at her most dangerous.
Hammering home the mediocrity, the Power Rangers soundtrack is all over the place. It’s mostly modern stuff that feels sporadic and gives off the impression that the film is trying desperately to appeal to as many young people as possible by trying too hard to be ‘hip’. Obviously, it falls flat. Fortunately, the show’s theme is used to great effect, but by the time it arrives it’s too little too late.
But seeing the rangers armoured up together for the first time was enough to inspire partial goosebumps.
The film’s real saving grace is the action scenes, assuming you can stick with it long enough to get to them.
Although the CGI is noticeable (and not particularly great), it doesn’t really matter – the action scenes are, in a word: awesome. It feels like something the original show would have done if they’d had the budget to pull it off… and that’s the selling point for the entire film. The big, bad monster (without spoiling too much) is a nod to the original series but is largely its own thing here.
My biggest complaint would be that there’s just not enough on-the-ground fisticuffs.
Obviously, Power Rangers isn’t going to win any awards. I would be amazed if they even tried.
But is it a bad film?
Not really… There’s plenty to like about Power Rangers if you look in the right place. But it is an odd amalgamation of trying to modernise an old story whilst being self-referential at the same time. Perhaps it was too big a project to give to a director with only one feature-length movie to his name? Either way, the script wasn’t up to much either, and even the most passionate actors would struggle with the way this dialogue is written.
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Oh and Kimberly, in particular, is victim to being far less sympathetic than they’re trying to make her.
If you’re at all curious, or have fond memories of the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, then this film may just be worth your time. Keep an eye out for some cool cameos that will definitely put a smile on your face. Otherwise, if you can get through the initial slog, the final act is worth the time.
It’s a fun film, with some good action scenes. Just don’t take it too seriously.
Power Rangers is in cinemas now.
Have you seen Power Rangers yet? What did you think of the 2017 reboot? Let us know what you think in the comments below…