Power Rangers 2017
I’m already back to the theaters this week, though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see the indie film Wilson any time soon, but I took my wife and daughter to see this film based on the trailers and the box office and the few positive reactions I noticed this weekend so far. Last year I revisited both the original Power Rangers Movie as well as the second movie Turbo and while I had watched the first season or two of the show back when it aired, those did not hold up for me at all. This film did a much better job of updating this story and these characters by taking them more seriously, but not so seriously that everything became extremely grim-dark. It does feel a little bit like it’s trying to copy the Marvel formula, but considering how well that has worked for Marvel, it’s not that bad of an idea. And for myself, and my family, it worked.
Where this film goes right is how and where it pays homage to the original TV show. There may be some instances that are a bit more obscure that a casual fan might miss, but some of the major ones work by not placing too much emphasis on them. We get a few “Ay yi yi”s out of Alpha, we get “It’s morphin’ time!”, we get a few moments of the original TV theme song, in its original format and not remixed no less, and we also get a brief cameo from two of the more popular Power Rangers near the end. The new designs work well, the armor doesn’t look like it’s made out of plastic and neither do the Zords. They have a more updated, and alien feel to them. They even move away from the slightly racist idea of having the Black kid be the Black Ranger and the Asian kid be the Yellow Ranger. And as for the other characters, Rita especially felt like much more of a threat than her TV version ever did. Zordon and Rita were also given more of a backstory that tie them together and set up the Green Ranger for future movies quite well.
This film also has a good balance of moments where they are focusing on the characters outside of being Power Rangers and the Power Rangers action. There’s not a whole lot of high school drama with classes and whatnot, there’s just enough to get a taste of high school life. We also get a bit of the Spider-Man moments with the bully and the initial unfamiliarity with super strength. But each of the five Rangers feel like they’re more than just “the nerd”, “the girl”, “the Black guy”, etc. They may not all be fully three dimensional characters with their own arcs, but there’s enough there to make them feel more fully realized. Zack has a more carefree attitude but is given the sick mother. Billy is a nerd, but he’s a nerd with Autism and a dead father. And it doesn’t seem like it’s just Austism for Austism’s sake, he has some quirks but he explains them well and it never causes issues with anyone outside of the bully. Kimberly gets the moment where she cuts her ties to the popular cheerleaders by cutting off her hair, but we eventually find out she actually did something quite terrible to earn her detention. Trini is the closed off, weird one who probably gets the least amount of development because of that fact, though it is implied that she is gay and is possibly only fully realizing that for herself. It comes off a little bit like lip service as it is only referred to in one scene and never really mentioned again, but it is a nice addition as long as it’s handled well in potential sequels. Jason is obviously given the most development as the leader and basically main character. He’s a jock who’s made some stupid mistakes but still sticks up for the little guy and wants to do the right thing. A little on the cliche side, but for a movie like this it works.
There were a few nice moments of surprising cinematography, though they eventually fell away later on in the movie. In the opening scene, there’s a great moment that’s appropriately disorienting as Jason has just stolen a cow, likely a rival school’s mascot, and is driving erratically to get away from the cops. While he is driving and crashing into things, the camera is inside the car and instead of cutting away to give us the entire scene, it rotates to give us Jason’s perspective inside the car so we only get a small slice of what’s fully going on. The fight scenes work well enough, though there’s rarely any exciting choreography. The best moment is actually just a brief scene where the two female Rangers are fighting over the last piece of pastry.
The acting overall works well enough. It was great to see a snippet of Zordon in his prime before he became a talking pin pression on the wall. Elizabeth Banks as Rita had some good moments, but also went a little too weird in places, especially when she was eating the gold. All the kids handled their roles well enough, though the one kind of death scene felt like the tension dropped out of the scene a little too quickly. It was supposed to be an ultra serious moment, and while it wasn’t turned into a joke, it did seem to become relatively insignificant in short order so that we could move on with the story. Still, a minor issue when everything else worked well, including the humor laced throughout. The Rangers played well off of each other, and Bill Hader as Alpha brought the right amount of comedy without being overly silly. It was a lot more than I expected when I first heard about this film and I’m actually quite looking forward to future movies. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.