Dean Israelite’s ‘Power Rangers’ movie is a tediously paced, heavy-handed attempt at rebooting a franchise cinematically.
The film starts off centering around Billy (RJ Cyler), who is longing to finish a project his late father started concerning an energy source at the base of a mountain in Angel Grove (his hometown). He makes friends with Jason (Darce Montgomery), who he meets in Saturday detention and they agree to meet up later that night. The deal was Jason would drive him to the site of the mountain in exchange for Jason getting some help with his pesky house arrest bracelet he now has to wear. They eventually make it to the location only to learn that some of the same teens who have detention on Saturday morning apparently like hanging out at a random mountain on Friday evening. We have Kimberly (Naomi Scott) a cheerleader who has been ostracized, Trini (Becky G) a confused young girl, and Zack (Ludi Lin) the bad boy, all seem to be up some shenanigans. Things quickly take a turn when they hear an explosion and realize that it was Billy who causes it (apparently he brought some dynamite with him). Amongst the rubble, the team discovers some power coins, and some new found super powers. Little do they know that they set in motion events that will lead to them coming face to face with the projection of an alien named Zordon (Bryan Cranston), a robot named Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), and a gold-driven villain named Rita (Elizabeth Banks) who only wants to destroy the world.
It was neat hearing the old Power Rangers Theme when the Zords are dashing off in a formation to confront Goldar. Dean Israelite did a good job with fan service and paying homage to the original material.
Elizabeth Banks made a fairly decent villain in the film. She certainly made use of every inch of her costume to help accentuate how evil she was on screen. Those long gold fingernails looked equal parts painful and like something you would see at the mall.
What Didn’t Work
Screenwriter John Gatins’s attempts to make this film relatable to children in 2017 and fails miserably. Instead of creating fully developed characters, he seemed hellbent on filling certain demographics. Each one of the Rangers is defined by either their nationality, gender, interests or in some cases their sexual orientation. Little is done to allow us to know who these kids truly are. If you are going to truly reboot this show for a cinematic audience then we need a clearer understanding of why these kids are taking on these roles as Rangers. When Christopher Nolan directed Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne wasn’t just a brooding white billionaire playboy. We knew why he became Batman. Why is Billy so driven to follow in his Dad’s footsteps? What drives Kimberly to go from a Cheerleader to trusting this group of friends she barely knows? At least some of these questions must be addressed so the audience becomes more invested in the characters as they become these heroes.
One would have thought they would have attempted to temper down the cheesy fight sequences.Why wasn’t a more concentrated effort at updating the fight sequence made? The only noticeable thing was the use of slow motion at different points during the battles in Angel Grove. So we are going to allow fights which are poorly staged but we better make sure that we bust out some of our slow motion special effects. Doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Super fans of the Power Ranger franchise will indeed be overjoyed at this latest version of the franchise. Anyone else will find it tedious, cheesy, and lacking in any discernable entertainment value. At this point, Lionsgate has plans for six more Power Ranger films, and that kind of confidence in the franchise is alarming. Then again, it shouldn’t come as a shock as last summer Sony announced that they had planned a sequel to Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters (we all know how that turned out). Power Rangers will likely follow the same path as Feig’s latest film. It’s a shame because with a tighter storyline, better effects, and a stronger cast this could have been something more than what it ended up being.