It’s morphin’ time.
Power Rangers is the 2017 remake/adaptation of the classic 1993 television show, which in it of itself is based on a 1975 Japanese superhero TV show called Super Sentai. In other words, Power Rangers go way back, and now we’re getting a more modern take on the pastel-colored super team. In the 2017 remake, we have a similar story like an episode of the show: main antagonist Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) plans to destroy the world and 5 teenagers with attitude are tasked to stop her: Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), Trini Kwan (Becky G), and Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin). The film also has Bill Hader as the lovable Alpha-5 and Bryan Cranston is the voice of Zordon and includes cameos from other mainstays from the original show.
Now, this is a tricky film to review. Movies like these aren’t really made to be looked at with depth. They are to be taken at face value: it’s cheesy and over-the-top, but it’s still fun enough to go see in theaters with a group of friends. The actors in the film are fine for who they are. Don’t expect them to be the end-all replacement of the original actors, but they work for what they are. The characters, despite the more realistic tone, all have an element of fun etched into their characters to make them film seem more organic. Two of the standouts of the film include Cyler’s Billy and Becky G’s Trini Kwan. Billy is the comedic crutch of the film, making every scene he’s in funny and smart and easily some of the best scenes of the film. But in terms of bringing in something new and different to the Power Rangers, Trini is the standout. She is the quiet type for most of the movie, as she is dealing with a pretty heavy family life and also trying to answer questions about herself and her sexuality, which makes the characters relatable to a certain subgroup of teenagers. In fact, all of the characters all have a relatable element embedded in their characters: you have the guy wanting to bounce back in Jason, the popular girl wanting to find her place in Kimberly, the guy who wants to take care of his family in Zack, the aforementioned questioning of sexuality in Trini, and then there’s the guy who wants to have friends in Billy. Bill Hader was also really good as Alpha-5, even if he was a bit cartoony compared to Bryan Cranston’s amazing performance as Zordon. Speaking of cartoony, it must be said that Banks’ role as Rita Repulsa was as hammy as it could be. It was to be expected that Rita would be cheesy – it is Power Rangers, after all – but when she was given a foot, she took a mile. She was entertaining and charismatic as ever, but her overacting at times really halts the more grounded tone of the film.
The action is exciting and crisp, but if you’re looking for the nostalgia bomb action sequence after nostalgia bomb action sequence, don’t come looking to Power Rangers. What makes this film work is that they really take the time to develop the characters and not have them exact replicas of the show’s counterparts. In that, props go to director Dean Israelite for taking the time to make the Power Rangers a much more grounded film, but still has action once that third act hits. And when the action begins, it’s exciting. No better way to say it. It’s everything a modern day Power Rangers film action scene should be and it’s a joy to see. And the epicness amps up to eleven once the Zords come to play, with them comes that Power Rangers theme we love so much. It’s great to see what a modern big-budget Power Rangers action sequence looks like, and it’s great when it happens.
That being said, the movie isn’t a masterpiece. Like I said previously, Banks’ performance as Rita Repulsa, while fun, does detract from the more grounded reality that has been set up before. Initially, she added a more horror-ish element that was fresh for Power Rangers in general. Then, as the third act approaches, she then becomes the campy Rita we all know from the 90s. Besides that, a lot of the film introduced side characters that really don’t mean anything except for a way to show how Jason, Kimberly, Billy and the company figure out they are now super special. And some of the visuals are poor compared to the rest of the film. There are some cool shots and scenes, but other times, the CGI looks unfinished or hastily made. It doesn’t ruin the movie entirely, but it does bring it down. And, while it got the rest of the character from the original film right, the one thing the filmmakers messed up on is Goldar. They made Goldar into more or less into a faceless, dialogue-less, giant monster made of gold. While they are clever for making Goldar made of gold, the charm that Goldar had from the original show is lost in place of a generic monster-like thing that they made him in the film.
In the end, your enjoyment of Power Rangers depends on whether you grew up with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as a kid. If you’re like me and you grew up with the show, you’ll like the movie a lot more. You might even love the movie. If you didn’t grow up with it, there is still enjoyment to be had in Power Rangers. Either way, don’t expect a masterpiece. Expect a decently fun and exciting romp that will have you at least singing “Go Go Power Rangers” when you leave.