Friday, March 24, 2017

Power Rangers review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
(From left to right) Black Ranger, Yellow Ranger, Red Ranger, Pink Ranger, and Blue Ranger ready to morph in Power Rangers

            Okay, a lot of you know that I’m a sucker for superhero movies, then again who isn’t these days? Avengers, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, X-Men, Ninja Turtles; chances are I’ll be in the theater watching it.
            But, here’s a confession from someone who is usually a fan of these types of franchises, I never really got into Power Rangers. Yeah, Saban’s phenomenal hybrid of teenage superheroes, Godzilla-style monsters, and giant robots battling in a very campy way, for some reason I couldn’t get into it that much.
            Not because Power Rangers was bad or anything (though you could debate if it’s actually a good franchise) but as a child I thought it was a little too cheesy for my taste (and this is coming from a guy who watched Sonic X as a kid, but I digress), though I did watch an episode or two in my lifetime. But, it was a huge success with a lot of kids and became the next best franchise since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Take some notes Cheetahmen).
            Toys, Halloween costumes, other versions of the show, cosplays at conventions, video games, and of course movies. Two films that tied directly to the TV series it’s based on, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie from 1995, which was enjoyably bad and corny but features some of the worst CGI you will ever see, its 1997 sequel, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, which was flat-out horrendous, and now a reboot of the franchise directed by Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) and features a brand-new cast as the show’s iconic characters.
            At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of the new Power Rangers movie when I first saw the trailer and ads. I was intrigued by the marketing of the film but it looked like it was severely lacking the campy action scenes and corny dialogue, and a certain trainwreck from 2015 suffered from that (No, not that Trainwreck!).
            But, seeing how I have been known for seeing movies like this, I paid my ticket, sat down, and gave the new film a watch. I was pleasantly surprised; Power Rangers was actually a pretty solid flick.
            I was expecting something more along the lines of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Transformers movie, very stupid and overblown by special effects and annoying characters. Well, for a Power Rangers movie, the characters are developed pretty well, the story is brilliant, and despite having a “slightly” darker tone, the over-the-top action, corny one-liners, humor, and spirit of its source material are still present.
            Set in the fictional town of Angel Grove, the film follows a group of wise-cracking teenage outcasts, star quarterback, Jason Lee Scott (Dacre Montgomery-Stranger Things) who got suspended from the football team, placed under house arrest, and is required to spend every Saturday in detention after a crazy prank he pulled on his rival team, autistic nerd, Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler-Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), and former cheerleader, Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott-Terra Nova, The 33, The Martian) who is there after supposed rumors of her knocking her ex-boyfriend’s teeth out. The three of them start hanging out at these mines where Billy’s deceased father worked at.
            Suddenly an explosion appears, catching the attention of two of their other classmates, Zack Taylor (Ludi Lin-Marco Polo, Monster Hunt) and Trini Kwan (Becky G-Austin & Ally, Empire) and the five teens discover these mysterious artifacts called Power Coins. Each of them take a different colored coin and end up getting superpowers.
            The group comes across an ancient spaceship and where they meet a talking robot named Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader-Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs, Men in Black 3, Inside Out) and Zordon (voiced by Bryan Cranston-Breaking Bad, Godzilla (2014), Trumbo), the original Red Ranger who lived billions of years ago until his consciousness was uploaded into the ship’s matrix at his moment of death. Zordon and Alpha 5 explain that the five teens were chosen to become a team of heroes known as the Power Rangers to combat the evil alien invader and former Green Ranger, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks-Spider-Man trilogy, The Hunger Games franchise, The Lego Movie) who plans to steal the Zeo Crystal, the artifact that gives the Rangers their powers, and unleash her monstrous creation, Goldar on the world.
            So, it’s up to the Power Rangers to unlock their Morphing abilities, morph into their Ranger armor, and use their giant robot dinosaurs called Zords, weapons, and combat skills to battle Rita and save the world.
            Overall, Power Rangers is dumb fun that feels very satisfying after you watch it, the action is exciting, some of the lines get a good laugh, and offers plenty of fan-service to those who watched the show or grew up with it. Although something I should address with this movie, don’t expect much Morphing in this movie, the first half of the film is buildup and backstory, which is appropriate being a reboot and you need to introduce these characters and story elements so people who have never seen Power Rangers before can follow along, they don’t even get into their armor until right before the climax.
            Unlike the 2015 Fantastic Four movie which suffered from uninteresting characters, dull storytelling, and a lack of action Power Rangers’ characters have fun, crack jokes, and have chemistry. Not once did I want to fall asleep, granted I would have liked to see more Morphing and Zord action but I enjoyed the characters and acting, especially Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, she is such a joy to watch and it looks like she’s having fun with her role, spot on.
            Besides the lack of Ranger action, what does kill the film for me is its use of product placement, remember the infamous 1997 action movie, Double Team which literally played out like a giant ad for Coca-Cola? Well, this movie is a giant ad for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, I’m not kidding, it plays a part in the story.

            But with that said, the first half of the movie is great storytelling, the final act is fun but ridiculous, and if you’re a fan of Power Rangers or looking for some dumb, cheesy, enjoyment, grab your friends, Morph, and Go, Go Power Rangers!  

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