Power Rangers Review
Written By: Nick Poulimenakos and Artur Galvao
IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME! Okay we know that was said that in the last Power Rangers article but c’mon… it’s such a great line! Alright, let’s review this…
I mean it was inevitable right? The Power Rangers franchise has been a worldwide phenomenon ever since debuting way back in 1993. With two feature films that didn’t perform well critically and commercially, and 18 T.V series’ to its name, a feature film reboot was destined to become a reality. And here we are, in 2017, with a new take on the classic story. Power Rangers is a darker, grittier version of children’s T.V show while still holding on to the roots that influenced it, all while featuring a talented young cast, solid character development and fun action sequences that will leave old and new viewers thoroughly impressed.
Power Rangers follows the story of five teenagers with attitude (ha) as they learn to become something astonishing when they discover that their town and the world is on the brink of being destroyed by the ex-Ranger, Rita Repulsa. After realizing that they are the only ones capable of stopping this alien threat, the heroes must band together to overcome their personal issues and become the legendary Power Rangers.
What made the original Mighty Morphin series so great was the undeniable chemistry between the main characters. Thankfully, that same chemistry was beautifully brought over to the new film as the five main Rangers play off each other extremely well. The young cast with limited acting experience make for a fun and complex team of Rangers that don’t shy away from their problems, but rather, use them to become closer to one another. The clear standout of the film is RJ Cyler’s Billy Cranston. The character seemed to come close to becoming an annoying aspect of the film but ended up being the heart of it. Being at the centre of most of the comedic and pulse-pounding moments, Cyler’s portrayal of the loveable nerd was stunning.
From the opening shot of the film, it becomes evident that each actor embodies their character extremely well. Dacre Montgomery as Jason Lee Scott (the Red Ranger) is great. He fully devotes himself to the loyal and conflicted nature of the character, but still remains hesitant to take on such a huge leadership role. Becky G as the Yellow Ranger Trini was probably the biggest surprise. We both didn’t think we would like her character as much as we did. She brings some welcome levity to the film while taking the Trini character in a direction not yet seen. Naomi Scott’s Kimberly Hart was another delightful performance. Like Jason, she has a tragic past and Scott carries that feeling of sadness throughout the film as Kimberly tries to find her place in this world. Finally we have Ludi Lin as Zack. He’s probably our second favourite Ranger in the film despite being such a departure from the original iteration. In this film, Zack’s mother is suffering from a serious illness and his performance makes the audience sympathize deeply with the reckless character.
Rounding out the main cast is Bryan Cranston as Zordon, Bill Hader as Alpha 5 and Elizabeth Banks as the dreaded Rita. Banks in particular seems to have an immense amount of fun as the main antagonist. She is equally funny, terrifying and imposing as this darker version of the classic villain. The 2017 version of Zordon is another huge departure from the series and we loved every minute of it. Zordon has become this emotional, humanized character that the Rangers can relate too. Alpha 5 wasn’t annoying. That’s all we wanted from the character and it’s what we got.
It needs to be said that this movie is not some life-changing superhero film like Logan or The Dark Knight. At its core, Power Rangers is a fun origin film that beautifully sets up the franchise it’s trying to build. We believe this to be director Dean Israelite’s plan. Create a notable film that includes strong characters with an average story to set up an even more exciting future. He undoubtedly succeeded and must be given credit, along with writer John Gantis, for putting this new, unique spin on a campy T.V show and revamping it for the modern age. We should also say that the camera work in this film is fantastic. The opening shot with Jason Scott alone demonstrates how incredible the camera movements are for the film. Very unique… very different… and it was awesome.
Sadly, even with a film this fun and exciting, it has some glaring flaws. For the first two acts of the film, the pacing was at the right speed. However, during the third act, the film started to feel rushed, trying to squeeze in as many action sequences into its final battle as possible. The editing seemed to get a bit messier as the film began to draw to a close. The editing issues were quite noticeable during fight scenes where slow and fast motion was employed. Now, remember when we mentioned that Becky G was great as the Yellow Ranger? Well this flaw isn’t a knock on her, it’s a knock on the fact that she isn’t given enough screen time. Easily the most complex character of the bunch, it would have been nice to have spent more time with Trini at her home and see more of the issues she struggles with. The final, and probably biggest issue that the film suffers from is its tone. The first two acts see the Rangers set in a dark, character driven story about finding themselves. But then the film shifts into another gear, opting for a more CGI, reckless-fun third act that’s loud and extravagant. Now, that doesn’t mean the third act isn’t thrilling, because believe us, it is. It’s just that the film strived to be something edgier but in the end, had another typical superhero ending.
We don’t know if we’d classify this as a spoiler but the original Power Rangers theme plays during the film. We won’t say when, but when it came on, the entire theatre was cheering. It was surreal.
Visually speaking, Power Rangers is gorgeous. Cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd gives the film its dark, brooding but hopeful look from the get-go. The wide shots of California and the scenes taking place in water were definitely the standout moments.
Brian Tyler’s musical score is fantastic. The composition is uplifting, tenacious and emotional and it really brings the film full-circle. Opting to use more strings and drums with a slight techno edge, Tyler’s score will leave the audience entranced in the action happening in front of them, all while bobbing their heads to Tyler’s thunderous music.
There’s a post credit scene that also had the entire theatre cheering. So don’t leave your seat because you are not going to want to miss the massive teaser.
Overall, Power Rangers did what they set out to do. It’s a solid origin narrative that sets up a possibly even more awesome franchise. It mixes classic John Hughes teen drama with modern age Transformers-level action and while it may be tonally off, it makes for one hell of a fun film. Power Rangers nicely modernizes the franchise and presents enough action with compelling characters to balance its faults.
Nick’s Rating – 7.5/10
Artur’s Rating – 7/10
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