Reel Geek Review: Power Rangers

I was in 7th grade when the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first aired back in 1993, a little older than their target demographic, but I was a geek, so I was drawn into the story and the action of this mashup of Japanese tv and American actors.  They held my interest for the first couple seasons at least, from the introduction of the Green Ranger, to Lord Zedd, and then I fell off  later on, but still I would say that I’m a Power Rangers fan, even if I couldn’t tell you anything about what happens after the original cast left.

Still, when I’d heard that there was to be a Power Rangers reboot movie, I was skeptical, could they do this cheesy show justice?   For the most part, I can answer definitively that, yes, they did do it justice.

Power Rangers is your standard superhero team origin story, by way of The Breakfast Club.  It is a little obvious from the outset, you have your Jock, (Red Ranger) Jason, played by Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things season 2) your Brain (Blue Ranger) Billy (RJ Cyler-Me, Earl, And The Dying Girl), your Princess (Pink Ranger) Kimberly – Naomi Scott (The 33) your Outcast (Yellow Ranger) Trini, played by pop singer Becky G, and..okay, Zack (Ludi Lin-Marco Polo) isn’t quite the Criminal, but still, I’d say my Breakfast Club comparison holds up, as they all meet in detention.

They discover an underground cave where they encounter the power coins, which grant them superhuman strength and abilities, then they go back and fully discover the spaceship inside that holds Alpha 5 (voice of Bill Hader-Trainwreck) who is the servant to Zordon (Bryan Cranston), who was once the Red Ranger himself millenia ago, before he was betrayed by his Green Ranger, Rita (Elizabeth Banks-Role Models) who also was recently reawakened, and will destroy their town of Angel Grove in 12 days when she gets her full strength and power back to awaken her minion, Goldar.      Thus starts a race against time to train these kids to be the Power Rangers that they have the ability of.

I mostly had fun with this movie,  the writers  did manage to give some backstory and depth to these characters, including adding some more diversity to the characters, making Trini curious about her sexuality, and having Billy being mildly autistic, which is really nice to see in a big blockbuster type movie.    And, even better, it wasn’t a big deal about either revelation, they were still full characters, that just happened to be these things, as people are in real life, nobody is defined by any one aspect about them.

Though, with the additional character development, this is one of those origin stories  that takes more than 2/3 of the screentime  to get the characters to the point where they become what you paid to see onscreen, which is, to me, a risky move.  But the characters are interesting enough so that they don’t need to be the superheroes really to make the movie interesting.

The cast does a great job, and they all feel like real characters, even the over the top performance of Elizabeth Banks as Rita feels more grounded then the screeching woman from the old tv show.  I also really liked Bryan Cranston as Zordon, even with his performance being delivered from a Man of Steel like pincushion face technology, it was the best Zordon we’ve ever had onscreen, and I liked the additional backstory and history they gave him and Rita.

The only few things that bugged me about this movie were some of the editing choices, that at times seemed like they were trimming bits for time, and cuts between scenes felt jumbled, like we were missing things from the movie.   Well, that, and the look of some of the revisions, namely Goldar, and the Megazord.   Now, in the original show, Goldar was Rita’s golden armored, blue werewolf man with wings, and here it’s like just a giant gold video game boss monster crossed with The Destroyer from the first Thor movie.  Goldar had personality before, now he…well it’s just a faceless force of destruction.    And I wasn’t quite feeling the look of the new Megazord, felt like a Michael Bay Optimus Prime on steroids.

Oh, and the product placement was pretty bad here.  Not as bad as the TV show Riverdale does with it’s Cover Girl product placement, that seemingly gives them half their budget, as much as they awkwardly show the brand of makeup a character is using, but it’s this.  The location of the item that Rita needs to destroy the world is hidden under the local Krispy Kreme, so the name Krispy Kreme is said in the movie at least half a dozen times, if not more, and then the (delicious) donut shop is shown repeatedly during the climax, which also leads me to believe that they gave them half their budget for this movie.

Overall though, Power Rangers is a fun movie, that takes what we all loved about the characters and updates their story for a new generation, while still giving the fans some fan service.  It’s not a perfect movie, but the Power Rangers have never been perfect, just fun.

Power Rangers– C

Power Rangers is playing in theaters now.

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