Review: To the glorified 90s kids, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was an all-time phenomenon. Five candy-colored heroes in costume (well, sometimes six), guided by a hologram face and an android, fight fancy-designed monsters – who can morph into giant form – with mecha-assembles called zord. It’s an immortal childhood memories for those kids; and immortal money pit for the makers, hence the new Lionsgate adaptation, Power Rangers.
This new Power Rangers starts with a new invention to the Power Rangers myth where Zordon (Bryan Cranston) sacrificed himself to protect ‘Zeo crystal’ from his treacherous ex-Ranger-mate, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks). Million years later, the battleground is now a small city called – yes you’re right – Angel Grove, where five teenagers: Jason (Dacre Montgomerry, Stranger Things), Billy (RJ Cycler, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G.) reside. As predictable as ever, Power Rangers follows the ‘usual plot’; but what can you expect from a Rangers film but fun and campiness?
It’s an origin story after all; it’s built over clichés and predictability. However, it’s quite surprising that Power Rangers handles it quite fluently with the meet-cute. There’s a shade of John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club to start with, assemble high school outcast to finally get involved in an unprecedented incident, which leads them to morphin’ time. There’s also some shade of Josh Trank’s Chronicle here and there, especially when the teenagers are trying to get used to their new found ability. Although handled pretty good, the first act takes quite some time to settle in to the ‘morphin time.’
The fun deteriorates just by the time it should’ve been the best part of it: when those teenagers encounter Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader) and newly designed Zordon. You might forgive that Alpha 5 knows what Sunday is despite being lost for 65 million years or that Zordon becomes cantankerous instead of being wise; but, it’s hard to excuse the film’s dragging middle act over one thing: how to morph. So, basically, you’ll spend most screen time watching those teenagers being ‘ordinary human’ and not Power Rangers. There’s a key to morph, they said, by bonding into each other; and, instead of doing those ineffective training mode, they should’ve dug each personality deeper.
After all, those teenagers have their own teen angst: Billy with his Asperger’s, Jason with his home-arrest thingy, Kim with being mean girl, Zack with his ailing mother, and Trini with her sexuality issue. The cast is surprisingly perfect and the character’s background is surprisingly well-written. Power Rangers bring diversity into a new level with this new roster; and it’s completely okay ‘cause we’ve seen ‘colorful’ Rangers in television getting along perfectly. In this case, RJ Cycler becomes the real magnet and surprisingly the most important figure in this film. Alas, those conflicts aren’t crafted into a something that would fill the momentum gap which plagues this adaptation.
On another note, the new Rita Repulsa as the archnemesis is as one-dimensional as she can be; Elizabeth Banks redefines this diabolic witch as a gritty gold-digger (literally). Rita has never been this menacing and frontal (that should be Divatox); but, her character is never really a problem. She successfully delivers one or two essential threats, but then, she never really reaches her potential. She even makes the most failed Rita’s moment: the creation of Goldar. In the end, we’ve never seen or, even, nudged again Rita’s rift with Zordon, while it’s the real reason why this Power Rangers film exist.
The third act, or in the serial is called: the zord time, has lots of potentials to address. The new zord’s design is surprisingly amusing, moreover, the megazord – which looks exactly like a more complex Jaeger from Pacific Rim. Well, there’s a moment when we hope this new megazord will give us a Mecha vs. Kaiju moment (ICYMI, we’ve recently seen a cool rendition of it in Kong: Skull Island); but, who would have thought that the zord time is a brief tenure that ends before it feels good?
After all, it’s a fine reimagining of our Sunday-morning favorite Power Rangers myth. It’s campy, fun & uplifting during the first act, but deteriorates from the middle to back. Despite decent cast, decent homage and decent zords, Power Rangers lacks of gripping & jolting pulse in the middle upwards; although, it gives you a chilling nostalgia and ridiculous public placement.
Power Rangers (2017)
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Directed by: Dean Israelite Written by: John Gatins Starred by: Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G. Runtime: 124 mins Rated PG-13