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Review: Power Rangers

Power Rangers
03.20.2017
6 10

PLOT: Five teens unwittingly find themselves tasked with defending the universe when they inadvertently unlock the powers of a spaceship buried for thirty five million years.

REVIEW: As I walked into the POWER RANGERS press screening, tagging on Facebook what I was doing, I was surprised at how many friends immediately contacted me asking “how was it?”, claiming to be super-excited to watch it. These are mostly people in their late-twenties, early thirties, so I guess they grew-up watching the old after-school TV show, which was an Americanized version of a Japanese kids program, with the action intact but everything else re-shot with American actors. It was horrible, but it was a phenomenon, even spinning-off into two major studio-funded films, 1995’s MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS, and the 1997 sequel, TURBO.

All that said, I assumed that by now people would have owned up to how bad the original show was. I dare anyone reading this to watch one episode of the old show and honestly defend it as being good in a way that’s not camp. Never underestimate nostalgia though, so I guess there is an audience out there for Lionsgate’s big-budget reboot, POWER RANGERS.

Occupying a kind of middle-ground between the old show and the well-received, gritty Joseph Khan-directed short film, POWER/RANGERS, this is pretty familiar stuff. It’s a superhero movie, but instead of having the mythology of a long-running comic book series to call back on, this one has to pay tribute to a half-assed TV show. One wonders why they didn’t just keep the conceit of the five teens fighting aliens and drop everything else.

Instead, they pay homage to a ridiculous mythology that starts with a lizard-like Bryan Cranston (who actually did voice work on the original TV show) crawling out of a crashed spaceship and doing battle with Elizabeth Banks’s silly Rita Repulsa (he gets the alien-sounding name Zordon, but she’s still “Rita?”). The movie actually isn’t half bad once it picks up with our teen heroes, with Dacre Montgomery as an injured jock landing himself in a year’s worth of detention for having caused a massive car wreck (filmed in a psuedo Lubezki-way) that ruined his knee. There, he meets R.J Cyler’s Billy Cranston (named as a tribute to his co-star?), who immediately admits he’s on the autistic spectrum, but only in a Hollywood way where it means he’s funny and brilliant. The other soon-to-be rangers include Naomi Scott’s mean girl, Becky G as the LGTB new girl, and Ludi Lin, all making for a nicely diverse unit, although only Cyler gives a truly good performance, with the rest seeming like they’ve been cast more of a looks basis.

Soon, they unearth Zordon (a now holographic Cranston) and his robot sidekick, Bill Hader’s mouthy Alpha 5, and have to do battle with Banks’s scenery chewing Rita, who wants to rebuild a giant robot that can apparently end all life on earth on a whim. What’s surprising is how damn long it takes for the gang to finally morph into rangers, with them only transforming at the ninety minute mark of this two hour film, only leaving the final battle for them to do their stuff in. The outfits look cool (but I hate the mouthpieces left-over from the show), although using the “it’s morphin time” catchphrase and even a cover of the old theme (which soon gives way to a Kanye West track for the big action scene) feels like fan service for nostalgia’s sake alone.

For what it is, POWER RANGERS is fine, with PROJECT ALMANAC’s Dean Israelite having made a good-looking film, although it’s clear the budget was saved for the big-finale, with much of the film being devoted to endless training montages. A friend described it best when he said it felt like a $100 million CW pilot, but kids and young teens will likely get a kick out of it. It’s not especially mind-numbing, although it doesn’t really have enough substance to sustain a major franchise, unless they really scrap the old TV show mythology and tell their own story.

Source: JoBlo.com

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