Power Rangers (2017)

1:31 PM

It's Morphin Time
This review contains Spoilers
 Power Rangers is directed by Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) and stars Dacre Montgomery (Safe Neighbourhood, A Few Less Men), Naomi Scott (Lemonade Mouth, The 33), RJ Cyler (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Second Chances), Ludi Lin (Monster Hunt), Becky G (Empire) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect). "A group of high-school kids, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world". Another major release packed full of nostalgia - it it just a cash in or is there an actual interesting reason to go go and see Power Rangers?

I didn't have huge expectations for Power Rangers - I initially thought it looked promising with the first look photos but the trailers were a lot more light-hearted than I was anticipating so I knew this was going to be more of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) rather than a The Jungle Book (2016) in terms of nostalgic reboots. I was right - Power Rangers is dumb, silly and stupid which makes it all the more fun - it's hilarious to watch at times mostly because it's so bad, it's kind of good. I don't know who this film is for or if I could recommend it to anyone - it's not awful and I would watch it again but it's more of a guilty pleasure. 

The plot of Power Rangers isn't anything too special or original - it's a generic superhero origin story. What I didn't expect going into the film though was so little time of the characters actually being Power Rangers - they literally don't suit up until the last 20 minutes. The plot is quite slow, leaving audiences waiting and waiting for something exciting to happen. This team of superheroes are also actually quite unlikeable - as individuals, a couple of them have done some very bad things (sending nude photos of others, driving like a maniac). The whole film is about them being all being misfits but they all come together and work well as a team. This is a nice message - it's good to see people working together but on the other hand, I don't think it's so good to portray generally bad people as heroes - one of the characters says something along the lines of 'all because you've done a terrible thing doesn't make you a terrible person' - well, in these circumstances it kind of did. That is just one of the major problems of Power Rangers - the characters are simply unlikeable. However, there was one thing that I already suspected but it actually happened and I think it was effective - Rita Repulsa was originally the green ranger of the previous Ranger team but she betrayed her fellow Rangers. This is something I wanted them to do with the character and they did which I thought was clever and made her an even better villain as she has all the same skills as the Rangers but uses them for evil. As a villain, Repulsa did not disappoint - she kept the stakes high and actually killed one of the Rangers (even though they are later resurrected) - I thought this was a good narrative decision as it showed just how far Rita was willing to go and she wasn't afraid of doing so. Even though the story for Power Rangers wasn't very original or surprising, there were some redeeming elements such as a strong villain and the stakes being relatively high (at times).

Power Rangers is going to be an extremely dated film - it is made for the commercial, Snapchat generation of 2017. Everything about Power Rangers incapsulates modern day in a nutshell but not in the best way. The thing that is really going to let the film's longevity down is the ridiculous product placement of Krispy Kreme. The film may as well be a 120 minute commercial for the donut company. A lot of the laughable lines included references to Krispy Kreme - Rita Repulsa has many silly lines about how she must find the donut shop and that it is the centre of the universe. I honestly don't know why the writers let this happen - Power Rangers comes across as cheap, tacky and pure commercialism. If the writers and studio thought a little less about money, they could of had a much more sophisticated and authentic Power Rangers film. 

The performances on the film are generally just ok. I don't see any of the actors portraying the Rangers getting further work because of this film as they don't really push the boat out with their performances but they also don't make fools of themselves either. RJ Cyler's character probably required the most acting from him and he did a pretty nice job. I thought it was an interesting choice to make the character autistic and it was pretty refreshing to see. The performances from Montgomery, Scott and Lin were not very memorable, they were pretty basic. Becky G doesn't have much acting experience at all which explains why she is probably given the most simple role. Her character does actually explore representations of the LGBTQ+ community but it is only a very small hint that could be interpreted in different ways. Her character is the typical moody teenager. As a team, the group work well together and I did believe their chemistry once they finally were capable of suiting up. However, the biggest star power (leading) in the film is probably Elizabeth Banks who plays the villain - Rita Repulsa. Not only is Rita Repulsa my favourite character in the entire film but Banks' performance was probably my favourite. Now, I did laugh every time the character was on screen so I don't know whether that was a good or bad thing but I did find the villain scary, threatening yet funny. Her lines were campy, eccentric and over the top but that made her all the more great. Banks proves to be diverse and a great character actor. 

Power Rangers is supposedly an action film but surprisingly, it really lacks action. There isn't a full length action sequence until the final 20 minutes. There are snippets of action packed moments but they are executed quite half-heartedly and aren't anything substantial or memorable (e.g when they are training). I really think Power Rangers needed more action. The final action sequence was alright but not strong enough. After being deprived of action for 100 minutes, when the big finale is only 20 minutes long, it's a little bit disappointing- luckily, my screening was free or else I would be complaining as audiences are surely paying to see Power Rangers? Not a teen drama. The megatron was pretty cool but looked just like a Transformer - I don't really know how these robots can distinguish themselves from the other big screen ones - especially when the Transformers are literal box office monsters. 

I suppose one reason to see this film is for the nostalgia. I did watch Power Rangers as a kid and did enjoy it - Red was my favourite. However, I wouldn't say it was a huge part of my childhood - more of a phase. The original theme tune does play towards the beginning of the final action sequence and I have to say, I cringed - that's partly down to the theme being cheesy but it also felt incredibly old fashioned in comparison to the super modern take on Power Rangers that this film was. You would have to ask a super-fan whether they liked it but I honestly didn't. The 'It's Morphin Time' moment was also pretty cheesy but it kind of had to be there. I think this film will be nostalgic for super-fans but I honestly think they will get annoyed by the ridiculous product placement. On the other hand, I think there isn't enough action for tweens and children so I don't know if this is for them. Power Rangers doesn't really have an audience because it has no idea what it wants to be - it's very uneven.

YA adaptions may have died out and Lionsgate were the Kings of the genre so they are trying to kick off a new craze with rebooting Saturday morning shows - If those remakes end up like this, I don't really think they're going to find an audience. Unfortunately, Power Rangers isn't nostalgic enough for old fans but isn't exciting enough for new ones. The Krispy Kreme references are absurd and so is the lack of action. The visual effects are cool enough but that doesn't save a cliche and unoriginal story. The acting is decent enough but Elizabeth Banks' Rita Repulsa definitely steals the show - it's over-the-top and silly but isn't that what a Saturday morning cartoon villain is like? This reboot should have been much more sophisticated film but instead we got a product of commercialism that will not stand the test of time. Simply put, it's dumb but at the same time pretty fun. 


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