Every now and then, Hollywood takes a franchise that is beloved by many and adapts it for the big screen, yet sometimes, they tend to process it and reconstruct as a means of targeting specific demographics rather than create a good movie that would honour its own legacy. There have been big examples of that with the recent Transformers movies and the recent two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films (notice a patterned connection there? *cough* Michael Bay), but in the case of 2017’s Power Rangers, it stays faithful to its core aspects, as well as trying to be a modern update. It is true that the filmmakers involved are trying to set up a new movie franchise, but unlike the aforementioned Bay-backed movies, this is much more a character-driven story where our main protagonists are actually likeable and you do spend time connecting with their personalities, flaws and ultimately, close friendship, by the end.
We are given a much more mature approach to the mythology of Power Rangers without it falling into the clichéd trend of going dark and gritty, feeling more like a Marvel movie with the heroes discovering their powers and discovering themselves and their mission in life, while also embracing the fun side of being a hero. Even when moral lessons are being learned, the movie has a sense of humour and heart with these characters bonding over the course of the movie, and the chemistry between them is believable and genuine. Plus, each of our main heroes have clear motivation, growth, personalities and go on a journey that changes them forever, starting out as troubled individuals before becoming better ones.
This is greatly reflected in the performances, and despite the fact that these young actors are fairly new to the acting business, Dacre Mongomery, Naomi Scott, R.J. Cyler, Becky G and Ludi Lin all give very charming and charismatic performances that helps elevate their characters to being much more than just your generic teenagers with attitude, which is demonstrated during a pivotal campfire scene. Power Rangers’ veteran Bryan Cranston brings grit and wisdom to the uncle-like Zordon, whilst Elizabeth Banks easily steals the show and appears to be having an absolute blast as Rita Repulsa by chewing up the scenery, being sadistic and creepy, as well as gleeful and fun. She could’ve easily been the worst or most annoying aspect about the movie, but Banks pulls it off with real gusto and verve.
That’s not to say the film is flawless as it definitely has its issues; the visual aesthetic is something that will divide audiences, and to this reviewer, the design choices feel too Guyver-esque, especially with the suits that are very bio-boosted armour inspired, and the spaceship interiors feel too much like a rip-off from the design work of Man of Steel. In regards to Alpha 5, the character is as problematic as he was in the show, and it feels almost as if Bill Hader was far too restricted with the material he was given, which makes his delivery feel rather forced. While the whole action-packed climax perfectly nailed the balance between the emotional stakes and the campy fun, it all feels rushed in execution, which means that if you were hoping to see the Power Rangers in action for a long period of time, you might feel disappointed. Oh, and stop it with your Kirspy Kreme product placement! SERIOUSLY!!!
While Power Rangers isn’t entirely a perfect movie, it is in no ways the absolute misfire everyone feared it would be. It is not Josh Trank’s Fant4stic, neither is it the recent TMNT and Transformers movies; it easily overshadowing all of them thanks to its heart, humour, spectacle and having characters that are genuinely likeable and charming. Even when the dialogue is occasionally ropey and clunky, that doesn’t show thanks to the commendable performances on display, and these young actors ought to have a bright future ahead of them. Director Dean Israelite has done a solid job of creating a reboot that’s actually been given a lot of care and attention, which is something that’s very rare nowadays considering the current state of reboots (Ghostbusters 2016 anyone?). It reinvents the franchise in a bold and mature way, while never losing sight of the campy fun that made Power Rangers so beloved to begin with, and for that alone, that makes this movie a worthwhile surprise.
POWER RANGERS / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: DEAN ISRAELITE / SCREENPLAY: JOHN GATINS / STARRING: DACRE MONTGOMERY, NAOMI SCOTT, RJ CYLER, LUDI LIN, BECKY G, ELIZABETH BANKS, BRYAN CRANSTON, BILL HADER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected rating: 5/10