Sunday, March 26, 2017

Power Rangers (2017) Review

Is morphenomenal still a thing? Can we make that a thing again?

Folks, I was scared walking into this theatre.

Nothing about this movie looked good to me. After watching the first trailer, I couldn't help but feel like this was a dark and gritty Power Rangers reboot to appeal to everyone else except for fans. There was a video that came out a few years ago, Power/Rangers, that imagined what a grim and "mature" Power Rangers would look like, and I had horrible flashbacks to that video when I was watching the trailer. I kept on thinking "Oh my God, they did it. They actually did it. They turned Power Rangers into a dark and serious movie that had no joy."

I kept on trying to find some good in the publicity materials, but I just couldn't. The design of everyone looks really awful. The suits look blocky, Goldar barely had anything that made him memorable, and the Zords looked like they came out of a Michael Bay movie.

I really wanted to like this movie though because I love Power Rangers. That was my childhood! Hell, I still have VHS tapes in my room of Power Rangers marathons back on Fox and Disney. I still have the Psycho Rangers miniseries/story-arc-thing from In Space on VHS. Sure, I fell out of the series, but I eventually got back into it like a lot of fans thanks to Linkara's History of Power Rangers series (which you should totally watch because it's all fantastic.)

And you know what? I actually really enjoyed Power Rangers. Not ironically, not so bad it's good, but because it's a genuinely good movie with some great acting and fun character moments.

And Krispy Kreme.

Our story revolves around five teenagers with attitude, Jason, Zach, Billy, Trini, and Kimberly. All five of them are generally outcasts at Angel Grove High School who would have never gotten along with each other except for the fact that most of them had Saturday detention and got magical coins in a quarry one Saturday night by accident. They all just happened to be there at the time Billy discovered them. So basically it's The Breakfast Club with superpowers. There's an evil witch named Rita Repulsa who wants to destroy all life on Earth for... reasons, and using her former Ranger powers from 60 million years ago, she wages war against her old teammate Zordon, who advises the rangers on how to stop Rita and save the world.

I didn't think I would like the characters as much as I would, and it took me a long time for them to actually grow on me, but I actually really like these versions of the characters, way more so than the original Mighty Morphin Rangers. Sacrilegious, I know, but at least these versions have character and arcs and personalities besides being really nice and good students. These versions have flaws and actually bond with each other so that by the end of the two hour runtime, I had actually grown to like them all. Granted, some took a lot longer than others, but I still enjoyed their company.

And yes, this movie is two hours long. It's a long sit, but it never really feels that long. Length in movies is always a tricky issue, because a movie is as long as it needs to be, but the length did annoy me because of how it was structured. The Rangers never actually become Rangers until the last 20-30 minutes. Most of the movie is showing them learn how to fight and get to know each other and when Rita actually does start to fight them, it reaches the point where you just want to see them morph and turn into superheroes.

Unfortunately, for a series known for its action, there's only one fight scene in their suits, one fight with the Zords, personal Jurassic themed giant robots, and one fight with the Megazord, a combination of all five Zords. That may have worked for a half hour TV show, but not for a feature length movie that's four times that length.

There's also a distinct lack of joy in this movie. I know that not every movie needs to be sunshine and rainbows, but when a franchise known for its goofy humor spends a good majority of its time talking about house arrests, dying parents, manipulation and lying, and just generally petty high school drama, it brings down the mood severely for what should be a fun time.

That isn't to say Power Rangers isn't fun or doesn't have a sense of humor. Most of the characters, especially Billy the Blue Ranger, have a few good lines with some solid physical comedy thrown inside. My favorite Ranger, the Yellow Ranger Trini, was pretty much built around witty remarks and general snark. Plus she had a great arc about her identity or lack-there-of and came out as an LGBT superhero. So... that's kind of cool. What's also cool? Billy is the first autistic superhero in modern Hollywood cinema. Double cool.

The peak of the humor though came from the the most cringe worthy and downright hilarious plot twist I've seen in years. And I don't mean that as a hyperbole, it really is so laughable and insane that I couldn't help but enjoy it. The fate of all life on Earth all lies on Krispy Kreme. Rita's goal is to attack Krispy Kreme, the Rangers need to protect Krispy Kreme, and Rita even marches an army up the streets of Angel Grove screaming "KRISPY KREME!", and I loved every second of it.

That's the kind of goofiness that I adored in Power Rangers. To me, the TV show was at its best when it had fantastic action scenes, great stories, and just a touch of goofiness to lighten up the mood. Power Rangers has about two of those aspects. The goofiness is here and played completely serious, making it even more goofy just to think about. The action is solid when it does appear, even though the character designs don't help it out all that much. It's just the story that feels a bit phoned in, but I mostly contribute that to spending over an hour just establishing our heroes and what they're up against. I hate origin stories since they're done to death, but this one works because it's an origin for a group of characters that are well written and can exist in any other movie outside of a superhero one.

Is it perfect? Dear lord no, but Power Rangers exceeded my expectations when they were set so low. I still can't get behind the terrible character designs, but the characters more than make up for it. Yes it's all super serious, but there can still be a bit of goofiness that makes me chuckle. Now if this is your first time watching anything Power Rangers related, I would probably direct you to several of the TV seasons that are fantastic over this, but if this is your introduction to the series, it could have been much worse.

We dodged a bullet with this one guys! Go celebrate with a delicious and savory Krispy Kreme doughnut!


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