Skip to main content

Alsonso Cuaron's ROMA Review 'Beautiful Masterpiece'

Movie Review: Power Rangers

Go go see a better movie.

Review by Brandon Wolfe

I confess straight out of the gate here, I don’t possess much familiarity with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. When the original series debuted in 1993, I was officially too old to count myself among its target audience. I never saw an episode, never saw the 1995 feature film and truly only am aware of the things that anyone would have picked up via cultural osmosis during its heyday. I knew it concerned five teenagers with superpowers who wore colorful jumpsuits and helmets (with disturbing artificial metallic mouths). I knew they fought monsters of the excessively cheesy, Japan-made Godzilla variety, with men in rubber suits. I knew Voltron was being not-so-subtly ripped off. I heard tell that many young men were quite taken with the Pink Ranger. And that’s all I’ve got.

So when it comes to reviewing the new big-screen reboot—pared down to the more succinct Power Rangers; it’s cleaner—I’m not bringing anything in with me. I have no affection nor disdain for the Power Rangers franchise. From the outside, it seemed goofy to me as a teen, but what, like He-Man wasn’t? Coming in as a blank slate, what I can tell you is that this new Power Rangers is very much in line with modern reboots. It’s slickly made, a touch “grittier” than its candy-colored roots, it borrows a lot from other contemporary blockbusters (many of which are reboots themselves) and it’s mostly quite bland. Still, I can report that the die-hard Ranger fans, who not only appear to still exist but were present in full force at the screening I attended, went nuts for it, so there you go.


In the sleepy haven of Angel Grove, CA, Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) gets busted pulling a cockamamie prank involving a cow at school one night and is left with a house-arrest monitor around his ankle and a disappointed dad (David Denman). He also winds up in detention, where he comes to the bully-busting defense of the mildly autistic Billy (RJ Cyler). Billy latches onto his protector as his new best friend, promising to neutralize Jason’s electronic shackle if he accompanies Billy on an impromptu excavation in the hills nearby. Out there, they encounter fellow outcasts Kimberly (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G, some sort of Mila Kunis/Selena Gomez hybrid), and the whole lot of them discover a protruding rock formation that releases five mystical coins of varying colors.

With each kid now in possession of a coin, they collectively discover that they all now wield superhuman strength and an imperviousness to bodily harm. They also uncover an underground spaceship containing a wisecracking robot (Bill Hader, but I would have put money on Patton Oswalt) and the giant-faced essence of the fallen warrior Zordon (Bryan Cranston, bringing gravity to what should be a zero-gravity role), who informs the group that they are the latest incarnation of the Power Rangers, a team that functions as guardians of the galaxy. Zordon trains the group and attempts to get them to function as a unit to achieve their full potential, which they’ll need to realize quickly because they’re only days away from a showdown with Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks, the only cast member who seems to know precisely what movie she’s in), a former Ranger who has gone bad.

Power Rangers is a film with an identity crisis. It’s a two-hour film, yet it takes an eternity to put its heroes into their rainbow-hued getups and bring out the monsters, palpably embarrassed to become the very thing that it must. It gets there eventually, offering up a finale filled with a big-budget (yet still appropriately schlocky-looking) take on the kicky, goofy action that transfixed grade-schoolers in 1994, but it’s in no rush to arrive at this predetermined destination. For most of its run, the film comes across like a more polished, less ambitious rehash of Chronicle, with its moody young heroes getting a handle on both their newfound abilities and their relationships with one another. Power Rangers can’t decide if it wants to be the sober version of this material or the cartoon blitzkrieg that people expect of it, so bets are hedged.


What the film does very badly want to be is a superhero Breakfast Club, with five outsiders coming together as a whole, but these characters aren’t up to that challenge. Apart from the enthusiastically nerdy Billy, the others are all riffs on the same moody, misunderstood teen archetype. There is ostensibly nothing to distinguish Kimberly, Zack or Trini from one another, and Jason only stands out from the pack by dint of being highlighted as the noble, whitebread leader. Trini, in particular, is dropped into the movie in a strikingly unceremonious manner. It’s tough to craft a story about characters forming bonds with each other when you have failed in not only establishing distinctive characters but distinctive character types.

Power Rangers also wants to be other movies as well. It swipes its aesthetic from not both the Marvel films (it can’t be disputed that the costume designer had Tony Stark on the brain) and the Transformers series (which it even directly references). Its characters all feel like bland holdovers from any given YA would-be franchise. The whole thing feels as much a pastiche of contemporary blockbuster filmmaking as it does a Power Rangers adaptation. The only thing truly surprising about its wholesale mimicry of everything that’s made money in the past ten years is that it also flagrantly boosted the synth-heavy theme music from Stranger Things, and even that is only noteworthy for how little time has passed since Stranger Things became a cultural phenomenon. They got that theft in under the wire.

The best thing about Power Rangers is cosmetic, but laudable—the cast is a true melting pot. The team consists of members of black, Indian, Asian and Mexican heritages, making the team as diverse from one another as their contrasting primary-color duds (of course, the white guy is still the leader and main character). This was also true of the original cast, but it’s refreshing to see that element ported over. It would be even better if some of that heterogeneity had been brought to any other aspect of this crushingly bland franchise bid because Power Rangers is mighty amorphous.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe at @BrandonTheWolfe.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Giveaway: @SwissArmyMan Prize Pack

In celebration of Swiss Army Man opening this Friday, we were provided with an Awesome giveaway for our fans out there.



See how to enter after the Jump...

Prize pack will include a large Manny beach towel and a tote bag



Email us at giveaways@sandwichjohnfilms.com
Subject-Swiss Army Man
Name & mailing address

Outrageously fun and deeply affecting, Swiss Army Man is a gonzo buddy comedy that is the feature film debut of acclaimed music video directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (collectively known as DANIELS, and responsible for the visionary “Turn Down For What” video, among many others). Bursting with limitless creativity in both form and content, Swiss Army Man goes from the absurd to the emotional to the whimsical to the profound and back again.

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore; the two become fast friends…

Enter For A Chance To Win Pass To See VICE In Dallas

Enter For A Chance To Win Pass To See VICE on December 17th at 7:30 PM in Dallas.

VICE explores the epic story about how a bureaucratic Washington insider quietly became the most powerful man in the world as Vice-President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.



CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ViceMovie
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ViceMovie
INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/ViceMovie
https://www.vice.movie/
#ViceMovie

SEATING IS LIMITED, SO ARRIVE EARLY.

PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE A SEAT AT THE SCREENING.

This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of your belongings and person have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *Thi…

Enter For A Chance To Win Pass To See IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK In Dallas #BEALESTREET

Enter For A Chance To Win Pass To See IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK on December 20th at 7:30 PM in Dallas.

Set in early-1970s Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple’s unbreakable bond and the African-American family’s empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers (screen newcomer KiKi Layne). A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.



CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

SEATING IS LIMITED, SO ARRIVE EARLY.

PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE A SEAT AT THE SCREENING.

This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and…