Disclaimer: these are my personal views and I admit sometimes I don’t have the best taste in movies. This is for fun so if you disagree let’s keep it civil. 🙂
This was the other film I watched during the weekend and I have to say that I’m not only pleasantly surprised but it has become my favorite iteration of the franchise (even above my all time favorites TimeForce and DinoThunder). I guess I loved it for very different and personal reasons compared to others. Go Go into the review.
This movie is a retelling of the first two episodes of the original Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, with hints and elements of other seasons (such as Alien Rangers, Zeo & DinoThunder). However, instead of copying beat by beat such story with all the included cliches, it is instead a character driven story. And what characters.
Long gone are the squeaky clean ‘teenagers with attitude’ that had nothing close to actual attitude of the original show (when Tommy ‘Ph.D. & the closer thing to Superman’ Oliver is your rebel of the group you can’t say they had an attitude). I get it that being a kids show at the time they had to give a certain image of the ideal teenager but truth is that it was hard to identify with them and their perfection.
Most of the times teenagers show attitude because they are dealing with the turmoil of growing up and finding who they are. And in this new movie, the core of the story is the struggles that the main cast, one of the most diverse in cinema today) is undergoing and how unexpected friendships and challenges help them grow:
Jason: (the only white member of the group) while he was seen as the town hero due his athletic prowess and now is seen as a pariah, he is hiding a deep-seated anger and frustration at being stuck in this town and having the expectations and wishes of his dad imposed on him. But is his sense of right which makes him grow into a real leader.
Kimberly: (who seems to be British-Asian based on the ethnicity of Naomi Scott) used to be the queen bitch of the school and a bully that has learned her lesson and is trying to be a better person and treat her friends well. She is also the other leader of the team.
Billy: (African-American) genius who is also on the autism spectrum who is not only the one that reunites the team but the true heart and soul of it. Probably the overall best character of the movie who finds friends that love him and help him.
Trini: (Latina) the outlier of the team, the ‘new girl’ at school (despite being there for almost a year and a half already) and who not only has no friends but is also struggling with her sexual preferences (it’s more than implied that she is Lesbian). A tough girl unwilling to be labeled and who despite being the more likely to betray the team is the one that asks the fundamental question: are we just friends or just Rangers?
Zack: (Asian-American) is probably the less developed character, a jokester l, reckless boy and a slacker that hides the real fear of waking up one day and find himself an orphan in a poor neighborhood due to his ill mother. But he is also the most insightful of the team and the one more willing to accept others as they are.
Kudos in particular to Dacre Montgomery, who in his first job made Jason a likable character and to RJ Cyler for his respectful portrayal of a person with autism. Ludi Lin is enjoyable as Zack both as the comic relief and as the one that finds the key to become a team. But the best, in my opinion, are Naomi Scott as Kimberly and Becky G as Trini who portrays kickass girls that you go beyond the ‘chick’ stereotype of these movies and become powerful leads on their own.
Worth to note is that this Zordon is not the venerable mentor of yore but a resented former ranger that grows as well into his teacher role. Rita, a mix between the original one, the original Green Ranger and Divatox goes from creepy to chewing the scenery with equal glee. Elizabeth Banks was pitch perfect here. And Alpha 5 for once is not annoying but a helpful sidekick. This movie is full of nuisance and it’s better for it.
Because in this movie, the value of true friendship is hammered not in a heavy handed way but in a process that goes along their training as Rangers. This is not just a team but fire forged friends that discover that to unlock their true power they have to be willing to trust and open themselves to others as well as accept others as they are. In these times of segregation, this movie has the über important message of friendship, diversity & tolerance.
As well, I liked is that there is no idiot ball here nor with the heroes or the villain. Everything makes sense. And it’s a highly realistic take on Power Rangers, with the reality of that kind of battle ensuing but without falling into the pitfalls of a DCEU movie. If you saw ‘Chronicle’ this film will give you pretty similar vibes but with a more hopeful note and the occasional, well-timed humor.
In terms of visual effects, the movie shows the budget during the third act, with the Zords and the armors. Goldar looks clumsy but after all, it’s made of molten gold. The best looking Zord is the Tyrannosaurus and luckily they don’t suffer from the horrible issues that make watching Transformers a torture. Everything in this film feels real but relatable and amicably without resorting to cheesiness.
Music wise, the soundtrack is serviceable and a good listen but lacks the power of the iconic theme tune, unless you count the mournful rendition of ‘Stand by me’ by the Bootstraps. Thus when it’s played during the climax my skin got goosebumps. That would be my only complaint. This was the time for a proper cover of the original theme (just not in dubstep, please).
And that is why I loved the movie even if the second act crawls. Because it took a simpler franchise and turned it into a character study of relatable people. An example of tolerance and diversity. When I was a solitary kid I dreamed with that kind of friends and adventures. And for that this movie, despite its flaws is one I loved it.
Bottom line, this is a highly enjoyable movie even with the lag of the second act. It’s even better thanks to its diverse cast and diverse characters that feel like actual people with actual problems.
Watch it if: you are a fan of the concept of Power Rangers but you are open to reinterpretations, like character driven stories, want a Chronicle-like movie but lighter in tone and more helpful, you are looking for a film with a positive, accurate portrayal of race and sexual diversity as well as that of disabilities such as autism. Or if you are looking for the ‘Breakfast Club with superheroes’ stories about friendship.
Don’t watch it if: you are expecting a copy of the classic show, don’t have the patience to allow the characters to grow or are you expecting ridiculous poses. Or you don’t like superhero origin stories.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5.
Desirability: I will be buying the blu-ray when it comes out.