“Different colours, different kids, different colour kids” – Alpha 5
When I did my most anticipated movie list of 2017, this rolled out to be number 9 on that list. So here we are 24 years after The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debut on Fox, and it’s been 20 years since the last feature length film hit theatres. Well colour me surprised, because Saban’s Power Rangers was actually pretty fantastic, for being a Power Rangers movie. This had all the makings of being a terrible movie, a young and unknown new cast of Rangers, an up and coming new director, and well to be honest the source material is was a cheesy afternoon kids show. But despite all of that, they really pulled it off; they took these characters in a kind of new and bold direction, while staying extremely faithful to the source material of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Nostalgia alone was putting me in a seat opening night, from playing the awesome SNES games, watching the actual show, to playing with all the Zord toys growing up, I wasn’t missing this movie. Power Rangers might have a hard time pinning down its target audience, but if you have little kids expect to see this movie in the upcoming weeks, and if you’re like me and loved the original stuff growing up in the 90’s you might find yourself dipping into your local theatre to see it!
Back in 1993 when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first aired, there were 5 rangers: red (Jason), yellow (Trini), black (Zack), blue (Billy) and pink (Kimberly). Sprinkle in a little white and green sometimes, and that was the team. They followed suit for the reboot, and we found Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Zack (Ludi Lin), Trini (Becky G), Kimberly (Naomi Scott) and Billy (RJ Cyler) all living in Angel Groove, attending the same high school, where they all seemed to be “outcasts” or “outsiders”. Jason, the star quarterback turned felon, as he crashes his car in a prank gone wrong as our movie opens. The popular cheerleader, who is sick and tired of being popular, Kimberly, as she sheds most of her hair from the very first moment we see her. Zack, the crazy guy in school, well when he attends school that is. Tough on the outside, but a kind hearted kid on the inside, as he finds himself taking care of his sick mother everyday, and doesn’t know what he will do when she’s gone, because she’s all he’s got. Trini, the new girl in school, who is very much an outsider, who rarely speaks, and is afraid to let people in, because she’s afraid of what they might think of her. See Trini is the first openly gay Power Ranger, and she is having a tough time expressing herself to her parents and her peers. Finally there’s Billy, who is “on the spectrum” and is very outspoken, and the kindest of our Rangers. Bullied in school for being different, he bonds immediately with Jason when they find themselves serving Saturday detention together, along with Kimberly, Breakfast Club style. Now lets address the elephant in the room, which involves race with the Power Rangers. Back in the day, the Black Ranger was black and the Yellow Ranger was Asian, and that used to be a very common joke that was made about the series. They did the old switcheroo for this having Billy who is black be the Blue Ranger, and Zack who is Asian be the Black Ranger. I enjoyed how the movie clearly went out of its own way to make off-color jokes about the diversity of itself, and Zack and Billy have a great little exchange about them each being the Blue and Black Ranger respectfully. Race, culture and being different is a big part of this movie, and they were all chosen to be the Power Rangers for that very reason, the power coins, which give them their powers ultimately choose them because they are kids “of different colour.” These kids don’t know each other at all, they are all different in more ways than one, but it’s one fateful night, that they all happened to be in the exact same spot, when Billy decides to blow up some of the gold mine in town and they all discover weird and mysterious coloured coins. It’s not until the next morning that they all now possess super human abilities like strength and speed and they are determined to discover what really is going on. From there they discover a “space ship” buried deep underground and it’s there that they meet Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston) the leader and voice of reason for the group. I thought Hader was great as the zanny robot Alpha 5, and brought a lot of humor to the role. He was just so cheesy in the 90’s show, but we didn’t really get that vibe from him in this movie. Zordon a former Red Ranger from the Cenozoic Era sacrificed himself so he could protect the power coins from the evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).
You can’t make a Power Rangers movie and not have Rita Repulsa in it; they go together like Mac & Cheese. She’s eating donuts, cackling, doing drugs, eating jewelry, and overacting at times with a hint of cheese, but that comes with the territory. Remember the source material, and how corny and cheesy this woman used to be. Overreacting to everything, howling and screaming “MAKE MY MONSTER GROW” any chance she got, actually she does utter those words in this, but it was pulled off super well. She’s being the overzealous, cranky, bitch of a woman that we all knew and loved to hate back in the 90’s. Banks really went all in for this role, and in the end it worked out great for everyone. We needed a performance like this for Rita to remind us all just exactly what we are watching, and how fun and campy this fundamentally used to be. As for her pet monster Goldar, I thought he was just okay, too much CGI, and it all just felt a little rushed towards the end, but this certainly won’t be the last time we see Rita, and that’s a good thing for everyone. All 5 of these kids were really acting their asses off in this movie; they all deserve a boatload of credit for that. This movie hinges on them and them alone, and their collective performances as our coloured superheroes. These are some young and talented kids, and that’s a great thing for this franchise, I didn’t know what to expect from each of them, but they all brought it, in their own unique and different way. Standouts though were, RJ Cyler, who actually was really good in Me Earl and The Dying Girl, and once I saw he was casted in this I knew that was a good thing. He was throwing out one-liners and catch phrases all movie long, and was just so natural in his role. I thought Ludi Lin was great as Zack also, he played the super confident tough guy, with a softer side no one is able to see role really well. I just thought he was really funny, and I don’t know, I just felt like I connected with him the most throughout the movie. Naomi Scott was great too, but I knew that she would be, because well she’s British and they just know how to act. Same with Dacre actually, both super British but you would never tell from the way they speak in this, he was also fantastic as the leader Jason. Hell even Becky G, as she kind of mopped and had sad face throughout the entire movie, did a wonderful job. They just did an excellent job at casting this movie, which to be honest was the most important thing for this movie franchise to be successful.
The darker, grittier more grownup take made for a more enjoyable experience for myself, and actually they throw two masturbation jokes at you that come out of nowhere which I thought was hilarious. Zack refers to it as ‘morphin” which played well with the crowd. But it wasn’t always taking itself so serious, the last 25 minutes where we finally get to see our new Rangers in their coloured suits, really paid homage to its predecessor, where the first two-thirds of this movie was very teenage drama, it was practically The Breakfast Club with superpowers. Not saying that’s a bad thing, in fact it would have been great if Billy wrote the detention essay stating who they really were, all while we see Jason on the football field giving that signature Judd Nelson fist-pump! When it comes down to it, I had a good time watching this; it’s been a really long time, since I heard “Go Go Power Rangers” and it got me fired up. It’s a fun time at the movies, and it was entertaining as hell. I personally think the weakest part of the movie was the last little bit, which was all the action stuff, the director Dean Israelite doesn’t shoot the best action sequences, and I think that if they can improve on that stuff for the sequel and still have the same effort from the kids, this could really go somewhere. The first two acts of this movie are really solid, and it does take awhile to get into the swing of things, but that’s to be expected in an origin story. These kids need to come together as a team and sort through not just their own problems, but also the problems of trusting new people and what it means to be part of a team. All the teen drama stuff worked, and each ranger having their own set of difficulties and personal issues felt real, because we live in a world now where no one is perfect, and most of the time people are dealing with issues that they don’t want to talk about. I thought the movie did a really good job exploring that and showing how it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to be who you want to be in this world. There’s plenty of callbacks and fan service throughout the movie that will please those life long fans, and it’s not forced down your throat, but you know it’s there. Some nice little cameos, and there’s a post credit scene, that you knew was coming, but it will get people excited for what’s to come. This was the perfect way to kick start this franchise again, and I’m really rooting for this movie to do well at the box-office this weekend, these kids deserve it.
Check ya later,
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews — Power Rangers = 73/100