I was nervous about this film for many reasons. The first and foremost being that the trailer made it look like they were following the DC hero formula of ‘dark and gritty’ for the sake of ‘dark and gritty’ ala Frank Miller. Honestly, when it comes to superheroes I’ve come not to trust anyone who wasn’t Marvel (or R rated or animated). With DC’s track record, can you really blame me? I don’t care how good the clips and trailers for Wonder Woman are or how committed Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns seem to be to getting her right. Until the actual film comes out, it’s gonna be low on my Interesting list with a BIG expectation for it to fail like all the others. After all, M. Night Shyamalan claimed to be a big fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender and looked how that movie turned out.
I’m a big Power Rangers fan. When I was a kid it was the only live action thing I watched other than Mary Poppins (and Galidor…who else remembers Galidor?). Admittedly, I came into the franchise late and the first episode I ever saw (that I can remember anyway) was the episode of Lost Galaxy where (Spoilers) Kendrix dies. …Yeah. Granted, that was a rerun and the series I actually first saw was Time Force. I stayed with the franchise through Dino Thunder, but started losing interest during SPD. I tried to get back in during Mystic Force, but it never really stuck. I’m also a huge fan of Linkara’s History of Power Rangers and have since gone back and watched a season and a half of Mighty Morphin with plans to continue the franchise eventually.
In the now seaside shanty town of Angel Grove, local football star Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is arrested for sneaking a cow into school (don’t ask, it’s not important) and is placed in detention and house arrest by his police officer father. It’s there he meets local geek Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler) who tricks his ankle bracelet into thinking he’s in his house, thus giving him free reign, in exchange for coming with him to the local abandoned gold mine/ rock quarry to explore. It’s there they meet fellow detentionees, disgraced cheerleader Kimberly Hart Naomi Scott), new student Trini Kwan (Becky G), and frequent absentee Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin). An explosion caused by Billy unearths five glowing coins which causes them to gain superpowers the next day. Upon investigation they come across a buried spaceship and its inhabitants, the robot Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and the consciousness of Zordon (Bryan Cranston), an alien who once lead a group of Power Rangers to defend Earth’s powerful Zeo Crystal millions of years ago before one of their own, Rita Repulsa (Emily Blunt), betrayed them to gain its power for herself. Now, she’s been awakened and Zordon tells the five they must work together and become Power Rangers to stop her or the Earth is doomed.
So, yeah. This really is Power Rangers meets The Breakfast Club as you might have already heard, though to be fair they do the Breakfast Club stuff well.
Rita and Billy are the best things about this film. I wanna get that out of the way. Emily Blunt is having the time of her life as the Empress of Evil and she’s managed to make a once campy villain actually terrifying. Like serious Nightmare Fuel stuff. Billy is a cinnamon bun and is probably one of the first actual autistic characters I’ve ever seen done right. Finally, a movie that doesn’t equate Autism to either non functional as a human or a superpower. That’s not me making assumptions based on his behaviour by the way. They state that in the movie. 3rd best character goes to Alpha for being a snarky bastard.
All the other actors do well in their roles, Lin’s Zack starts out as ‘The Crazy One” but later reveals a more tragic backstory with some emotional depth. Kimberly isn’t the stereotypical Valley Girl who’s happy go lucky. She has her own problems that haunt her. Trini has problems with her family. Jason struggles with his own self worth. These are not the one trait goody good characters that preach about the environment and friendship all the time. They are flawed. These are actual people with real problems that real teenagers can relate to. I found that immensely satisfying.
Also, there is no Bulk and Skull. Probably for the best as they would have had to translate them into modern day bullies, which aren’t as fun as they were in the nineties when they were comic relief instead of actually terrifying. Plus there’s no real use for them since the Rangers aren’t goody goods so there’s nothing to contrast them.
I’ve mentioned in the past that I had a problem with the costumes and zords. I’ve mostly gotten over that by now as it makes more sense in this more realistic environment. What I still have a problem with is the design of the megazord. That is not a spoiler, of course they were gonna have a megazord fight. It’s Power Rangers. I’m sure it’ll grow on me eventually, but for now it just doesn’t look right. That’s probably because they look like they got their inspiration from the Michael Bay Transformers movies. …That’d explain a lot actually.
One thing this film does have over the Transformers films is they actually use the original ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ song in the film as a battle theme. Yeah, lyrics and all. Where were you on that Transformers? 5 films and not one utterance of “Transformers! Robots in Disguise!” Even the original film from the 80s had it! Sorry, getting off track.
Honestly, most complaints I’ve seen lobbied at this film can be solved by pointing to my post on multiverse theory. It’s a separate universe from the original. It doesn’t change anything about the original. It’s just a new universe. A more realistic one, sure, but not a bad one either. I went into this expecting ‘grim dark’ because that’s what the first trailer had me believe. Even after subsequent trailers played up the humour, I just kept remembering what happened with Suicide Squad. I’ve been burned before. So imagine my surprise when I realise that it’s not grim dark. It’s actually very hopeful and optimistic. So the characters are flawed. So are humans. So Rita kills people. So did Anthony Hopkins and he won a [BLEEP]ing Oscar for it! (Yes, I stole that joke from Hellsing Ultimate Abridged. Go watch them. They’re funnier.) So Zordon’s a bit of a dick. Newsflash: he was kind of a dick in the show too, especially when you messed with his stuff. Also, the rangers’ personalities aren’t that different, just brought down from archetypes to make them more relatable. This is a good thing!
Also, the gay thing, It’s barely mentioned and is left open for interpretation. Or would be if the creator hadn’t said anything. Kudos on making the first gay movie superhero. …Does Iceman for the X-Men films count if it hadn’t been thought of in the comics yet?
The best thing I can really say about this film is this: It Is Not DC. It’s not Marvel, but it’s not DC either. This is not a bad film. It’s also not a great film, but it’s a fun film. Yes, we’re back into Now You See Me 2 and Central Intelligence territory. It’s a fun look at a more realistic Power Rangers universe made, not for the kids watching the show now, but the young adults who watched the original series as kids. We are the audience. Honestly, I’d probably rate this above the Thor films in terms of superhero enjoyability, and maybe The Incredible Hulk, but not the Iron Man sequels because, as not as good as the original as they are, you can’t beat Robert Downey Jr.
This is an okay movie. I might even go so far as to as it was good. You should watch it. There’s some cameos though I won’t say who. …Oh you already know who they got. Of course they got him.
As for who should play Tommy in the next one (if there is a next one) I’m inclined to agree with the cast. I hope it’s a girl. On the other hand, I do want Tommy to be with Kimberly again as they are one of the best couples in Power Rangers (and the only one allowed to kiss…seriously). Oh well. That’s another movie.
Hopefully by next time I’ll have the Doctor Who and Sherlock reviews ready for you. The new Doctor Who season’s coming up fast. I already have my season pass ready. Not to mention Class is being released too. I have so much work to do. Wish me luck!