Power Rangers (2017)

  • Time: 124 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Dean Israelite
  • Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler

Storyline:

High school outcasts stumble upon an old alien ship, where they acquire superpowers and are dubbed the Power Rangers. Learning that an old enemy of the previous generation has returned to exact vegenance, the group must harness their powers and use them to work together and save the world.

2 reviews

  • Sometimes all a superhero film needs is a good villain to prevent it from sinking into a muck of genericness. In the case of Power Rangers, the latest reboot of the kitschy sci-fi children’s series that debuted in 1993 and which continues to run to this day, there’s alien supervillainess Rita Repulsa, who is gleefully played to the hilt by Elizabeth Banks.

    Rita is temporarily done away with in the film’s Cenozoic Era-set prologue, prevented from fulfilling her power-hungry quest by Zordon (Bryan Cranston), who sacrifices himself and his team of Power Rangers in order to save the planet. Cut to 65 million years later in the California town of Angel Grove where disgraced high school football hero Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) is being chastised by his father for throwing away his future before attending detention where, amongst the stereotypically motley crew of breakfast clubbers, he meets Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), recently banished from the clique of popular girls, and Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), a nervous geek who admits to being on the Autism spectrum.

    After Jason defends Billy from a bully, Billy asks for his help continuing a project started by his father that has something to do with unearthing an energy source from the town’s gold mine. There the two teens improbably encounter Kimberly as well as Zack (Ludi Lin), a badass who’s also a mama’s boy, and sexually alternative rebel Trini (Becky G). The quintet find the power coins buried by Zordon, are soon possessed by superpowers, and discover a buried spaceship where they encounter robot assistant Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader) and Zordon’s consciousness, who informs the teens of their destinies as the next team of Power Rangers. The disparate group must learn to work together as one in order to defeat the newly resurrected Rita before she gets to the powerful, planet-destroying Zeo Crystal, which is hidden in a Krispy Kreme franchise of all places.

    Predictably, the film often plays like a teenybopper version of The Avengers or the bland stepchild of X-Men: First Class with very little of either franchise’s surety of tone or performers’ high level of charisma. To be fair, most of the Power Rangers’ cast acquit themselves quite nicely – Lin, Cyler and Scott are especially engaging – but Montgomery as the team’s de facto leader is so woefully under-emotive as to be a mannequin. It’s no exaggeration to say the most shocking thing in the entire movie is the moment he declares he has been angry for such a long time as there was scant evidence of this in either his face or carriage.

    Of course, very little of its target audience is interested in the cast’s acting skills or lack thereof. They’re here to see the Power Rangers throw down with Rita and director Dean Israelite delivers. The climactic battle is the best thing about the movie, finally embracing its fun and cartoonish origins and even deploying the series’ ridiculously rousing theme song (“Go Go, Power Rangers!”).

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  • In the early 1990s, the Power Rangers TV show was a big thing when it came out. With its big action set pieces and varying evil characters to combat, many kids found the show to be a lot of fun growing up. Since then the show has continued to be superseded by different kinds of rangers. The style and execution of the show very much remained the same but the difference was in the designs and settings. Every few years seemed like a new version of the Power Rangers were being made. Prior to that, two movies were made featuring the original rangers. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie (1995) and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie both attempted to bring about more fans but only succeeded with the first. The show was what really kept the franchise afloat. Being that it’s so popular though, producers finally thought it was time to reboot the series with a brand new film. Modernization of the characters, suits, and villains were something that was bound to happen. In the end, it was alright.

    Seeing that this is a reboot film, the script was handled as an origin story. Written by John Gatins, audiences are introduced to a bunch of misfits that can’t seem to find a break in their lives. Jason (Dacre Montgomery) is a football player who just blew is last shot at getting a scholarship for a dumb prank he tried to pull. Kim (Naomi Scott) was once a cheerleader who made an ill-fated social media post that got her in trouble. Billy (RJ Cyler) is just a book worm techie and gets caught in the wrong situations. Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G.) are both outsiders who try to stay as secluded as possible from the town they live in. Before they know it, they cross paths together after discovering mystical colored coins. Upon making this discovery, they then run into Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston), the original owners of the glowing coins. There they learn what the power rangers were all about and that an ex ranger by the name Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) must be stopped before she destroys their world.

    The development of the main leads are adequate. Although they make questionable decisions at first, viewers can get attached to them. The actors portraying those characters do an acceptable job. With the cast only having big name actors as the supporting roles, this gives ample time for the lesser-known thespians to shine. Out of that group, nobody takes the spotlight more than the other. They all have their moments to grow and that’s always a sign the writer is thinking properly. What doesn’t make sense though is that once these individuals start to train as power rangers, everyone in school treats them exactly the opposite. That’s not realistically believable. On top of that Billy is a wiz at almost everything and even discovers an important plot device that Repulsa is looking for. How he finds is not explained and makes no sense. Putting that aside though, the rest of the storytelling is decent. Gatins was also the writer to Real Steel (2011), Need for Speed (2014) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).

    The direction was also competently controlled by Dean Israelite. What’s more surprising is that Israelite had only directed one other theatrical feature which had a much smaller budget and only made twice as much back. The film was Project Almanac (2015), which was released in late January. When movies are released then, most are because they are not very good films. But all the power to Israelite for moving up. The action sequences that begin to occur around the middle of the film are well staged. Any CGI that was used in those scenes were also rendered effectively not to look fake. One of the more unique designs was to Repulsa’s Goldar. Made completely of molten liquid gold, the flow of how the liquid gold moves is not seen on many creatures. The power ranger suits was another change that was done in order to not date the costume. This worked in their favor because although it’s metallic armor, it looks much more durable than to that of the older style suits. Like they actually could take a beating.

    Camerawork for this film was a mixed bag however. Shot by Matthew J. Lloyd, the cinematography is a hybrid of shaky cam, rotating panoramic shots and traditional shooting. The classical filmmaking parts were fine; nothing to mention there. The shaky cam and rotating shots are another problem. Shaky cam is always an issue because the motions can be nauseating even if the idea is to create realism. As for the rotating shots, it can get very dizzying. Lloyd got some professional shots but anything else is nothing to be impressed with. He also filmed for Cop Car (2015) and Project Almanac (2015). Rounding out the technical elements was music composed by Brian Tyler. In the past, Tyler’s music has been used for many different action films and here it sounds very stock in its own way. For some reason he doesn’t translate the Power Rangers main theme but it’s not all neglected. Tyler seems to have taken an alternate approach to his music. In certain areas, cues will sound close Daft Punk’s sound. Interesting.

    Modernizing the power rangers franchise wasn’t a bad idea at all. Much of the work put into this feature manages to stand out with relatively necessary development of characters. The action is permissible and the music fits the genre to a degree. The only problem is the script misses some key points and the cinematography is uneven in presentation.

    Points Earned – -> 6:10

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