‘Power Rangers’ Movie Review: Justice to the 90-minute err time


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Directed by Dean Israelite, Power Rangers, is an American science fiction film rated PG-13 that aims to refresh the 1993 incarnation for modern audiences. But seriously, to what in the world are we expecting it to be? Knowing over $100 million was spent to rebuild a series that was best known for its low costs and massive merchandising profits, but a bigger budget doesn’t justify the expectation to make a property a lot better than the original.

‘Power Rangers’ Movie Review: Justice
Photo from Power Rangers Facebook page
The story emerged in an inscrutable prologue in which a prehistoric group of Power Rangers are defeated in a battle, and Zordon (Bryan Cranston) buried some crystals before he turned to ashes together with Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks).

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Fast-forward to the present, in a small fishing town of Angel Grove the film follows the same basic concept, narrating the story of five seemingly different high schoolers stumble upon an ancient spaceship buried underneath a mining site. Exposed in it are five specially colored crystal-like discs, surprisingly find themselves imbued with super strength and speed afterwards. The given gifts most kids could only ever dream of receiving.

Power Rangers 2017
Photo from ‘Power Rangers’ Official Trailer
Meeting the five high school students destined to wield their newly found super powers to save the world, we have a football star Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), the nerdy and antisocial Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), former popular girl Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), the impulsive and seemingly crazy Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin), and the mysterious new girl Trini Kwan (Becky G.). Like most origin stories, the unusual event happened following specific turning points in their lives; Jason after a recent high school prank banning him from the football team and house arrest, and Kimberly after she was outcasted by her groupmates.

Soon they found a robot-sidekick Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and introduced to Zordon, uploaded to the memory of the spaceship. They learned that they have been chosen to be the newest team of Power Rangers - who will protect the humanity. Both actors deemed perfect for their roles, with Hader bringing his usual charm and wit as the supportive and cheerful Alpha 5, and Cranston using his courage and wisdom to try and lead the team towards victory against Rita.

Power Rangers 2017
Photo from Power Rangers Facebook page
Our mopey superheroes in time will face the villainous, ancient Rita who awakened from her slumber, determined to destroy life on the planet with the help of her giant golden monster named Goldar. In order to protect the planet, they must learn to harness their powers before Rita has the chance to complete her mission. This includes bonding with each other and becoming a fully-functioning unit in order for them to learn how to “morph” and acquire control over their Ranger armor.

The five leads are wildly irritating considering the diverse racial backgrounds and quirky personalities of each of them. It’s clear which of the five interest the filmmakers the most. Montgomery, Cyler, and Scott all get the spotlight all throughout, with each bringing spirit and acclaimed roles that might have otherwise been dull if played by different actors. Cyler stands out as the twitchy and sympathetic - so much so that it’s not hard to see why Billy’s character ends up mistakenly feel like the lead by the time it reaches the end of its second act.

Power Rangers 2017
Photo from Power Rangers Facebook page
Meanwhile, Trini and Zack turned to be the odd members of the team, introduced later than the other three and given far less to do emotionally as they are. Zack portrays as a tough guy who really just loves his ailing mom, he delivers an action-hero performance the likes of which you truly do not see anymore. It’s hard to say if it’s the fault of the artists or the film’s script, but the two characters just never come together as organic parts of the cast like the others do.

Power Rangers 2017

Photo from Power Rangers Facebook page
It's difficult not to spoil the excitement of testing out their newfound superpowers, but then the ridiculous plot has to come and you can see the film struggling to maintain its straight face while Banks' Rita Repulsa devours every piece of gold she can find and through her ongoing hunt for Zeo Crystal. Banks doesn’t just go over the top with her performance - she actually goes a little too far. Unlike the rest of the characters and performances in the film, which each feel rooted in a very specific emotional place, Rita fairly enjoys each part terrorizing Angel Grove and the jaw-dropping scene of Krispy Kreme commercial. It’s like receiving a satisfying reward after her destructible attack.

While you are awaiting the Rangers to figure out the right tone to morph, you are also looking a way to morph out of the theater especially during the haphazardly-paced middle section when the team are consumed in training. It’s only during the last 30 minutes that Power Rangers feels like they can manage perfectly the blend of fun and stakes in the final battle that is so-so staged and executed.

Power Rangers 2017
Photo from Power Rangers Facebook page
Goodness gracious, the result isn’t a perfect blockbuster by any means, as the emotional aspects of Power Rangers do struggle to come through from time to time. A little less remediation and a little more action would have gone a better way in the mushy mid section. Nevertheless, Israelite directs both the super-powered action scenes and mundane parts of his characters’ lives in an equally dynamic manner to offer the new generation the unintentional comedy and cheap thrills of Power Rangers that made it popular two decades ago.

WATCH: ‘Power Ranger’ official trailer


--M, The Summit Express

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