Director: Dean Israelite (Project Almanac, Magician)
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks
Writer: John Gatins
A review by Heather Fischer
“What is that odious stench? Smells like… teenagers.” While 2017’s reincarnation of the Power Rangers will not satisfy your craving for Ivan Ooze’s whimsical quips, it certainly does justice to Saban Entertainment’s franchise of teenagers with attitude and moves!
The highly anticipated reboot of the Power Rangers, a loved (or hated) television show that began as a hybrid American adaptation of Japan’s Super Sentai, is a retelling of the origin story. A group of five unsuspecting teenagers (Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, and Becky G), all students at one time or another of Angel Grove High, come together after accidentally discovering an alien ship buried beneath the city’s gold mine.
After learning of their shared bond as Rangers, Zordon (Bryan Cranston) sets them on their mission and purpose of destroying Rita Repulsa and her army of terrifying monsters. If any of this sounds recycled, it’s because it is. However, you shouldn’t let that deter you from watching the film if you are a fan of the franchise and have been since childhood.
Relatively unknown director Dean Israelite put together a fresh perspective on the Power Rangers franchise while still staying true to the source material. Key differences include a significantly different tone from the television series. It could be argued that much of that can be attributed to the shift in setting. While still set in Angel Grove, the film’s version is an overcast covered fishing village, strewn with tall evergreen trees. It almost looks like Angel Grove (which is California in the series) meets Forks from Twilight. That makes sense given that the movie was filmed in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.
The new Ranger squad also comes equipped with some modern and rather dark interpersonal conflicts that make the characters relatable to modern day teens. It is difficult to go into further detail about these issues because they are literally one of the only surprises that someone that has watched the television series would not be familiar with. That being said, it was nice to see the new Rangers not getting hung up on stereotypical and superficial aspects that are so easy to slot younger characters into.
Apart from the Rangers being created with a faceted approach, we are also given some much needed depth to support characters like Zordon, Rita, and Alpha 5. Something that never existed in the television series, we are allowed a glimpse into the past of Zordon and Rita – a past which happens to be shared and thus fuels the current day events.
The film was not perfect by any means. Rita’s dialogue seemed an afterthought at times, underutilizing Elizabeth Bank’s portrayal of the character. In addition, the wardrobe department really needs to allocate some additional funds to outfitting the Rangers when not in their totally badass armor. Rather than stick with the solid colors appropriate to each Ranger, as was the custom in the television series, they did it in subtle pieces. However, one visually off-putting trend was the propensity to clothe the plainclothes Rangers in t-shirts with screen printed sayings across the chest which were both distracting and pulled from some pretty awesome moments.
For example, when the Rangers morph for the first time Jason (Dacre Montgomery) is wearing a shirt with some 50s style diner font that says “Cash Only, No Credit.” Although done to presumably keep the teenagers feeling relatable, it came off cheap and distracting.
Speaking of morphing, one of the best orchestrated aspects of the Power Rangers film was the new armor and Zords. The armor looks perfectly futuristic and inspiring, while also being practical (no more flimsy crotch-cloth that wouldn’t protect against against a Nerf dart let alone a Putty fist). The fight sequence put the new “costumes and dino cars,” as Rita describes them, to the test in a pretty incredible final fight – complete with that iconic Go, Go Power Rangers song!
See it! If only for Alpha 5’s poignant jokes and some pretty sick giant metal dinosaurs, it is worth the view. I strongly recommend checking it out in theaters while it is still there. The CGI is gorgeous on new digital projection screens, and as we all know the Mega Zord is huge and deserves all the space it can get.