GO GO POWER RANGERS, YOU MIGHTY MOPRHIN POWER RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There, now that’s out of my system.
So the Power Rangers movie reboot is finally here, the newest property to get a big budget modern reimagining hoping to cash in on nostalgia. This movie definitely had its naysayers from the moment it was announced especially when Lionsgate also announced that they wanted to make this a franchise with six or seven entries. A bold announcement considering the first one hadn’t even filmed yet much less hit theaters and made enough money to warrant a sequel or six. However iffy a proposition a Power Rangers reboot was, I was on board from the get go.
To say that I am the target audience for a movie like this is an understatement. The pilot episode of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hit televisions everywhere when I was the ripe old age seven and I was all over it for a few years until I grew up and moved on to more mature shows like Batman: The Animated Series and the 90’s X-Men (cue theme song!). But for a time, I was all about Dinozords, Power Coins, Morphers, and Dragon Daggers.
Fast forward twenty three years and here is the gritty, nostalgia dripped reboot that my seven year old self could have never imagined. Now the real question, is it any damn good?
YES! But not in the ways you might think…..
Power Rangers is at its best when it’s not trying to be a Power Rangers movie. I know that sounds odd but I really think that’s what it boils down to. I’ve been watching through Season 1 of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with my daughter as I drag her down nostalgia memory lane with me and it’s apparent that the Rangers in the show were mostly just high school stereotypes and caricatures rather than being real, fleshed out characters (at least in the handful of episodes that I have recently rewatched). The new movie really pushes our new crop of “teenagers with attitude” past being just caricatures and makes them real people with real problems and real motivations that we as an audience can grab on to and identify with. I will say that Jason, Kimberly, and Billy are more developed than Trini and Zach but we still get enough to understand why each Ranger acts the way they do.
Zordon, as played by Bryan Cranston, also has a lot more to his character in this movie than he did in the show. Again, he feels like a real character with flaws, understandable motivations, and a nice arc to his story that elevates him beyond a floating head in a tube.
Bill Hader is serviceable as the voice for Alpha 5. I’m not a fan of Alpha as a character and there’s only so much that a talent at even Hader’s level can do with an annoying robot.
As for everyone’s favorite sufferer of chronic headaches, the classic villain Rita Repulsa probably has the most changes to her character and I believe that most of them were for the better. I won’t spoil it here but if you paid close enough attention to the trailers, you probably already know part of her origin. The villains in Power Rangers have always been over the top to the point of being goofy and Elizabeth Banks’ scenery chewing Rita does a decent job of bringing that to the big screen. She pushed it just hard enough to get over the top but not so far that she fell into eye roll territory.
So where did this movie fall short if all the characters were well developed and portrayed well? Unfortunately Power Rangers stumbles a bit when it comes to actually doing some Power Ranger-ing. The Rangers don’t get into their suits until rather late in the movie (for plot and character development reasons) which honestly didn’t bother me. It’s that the move from fighting hand to hand in their suits to jumping into the Zords in a matter of moments that bugged me. It felt a bit rushed and unearned when the Rangers call upon their Zords to go take on the big monster. My favorite part of the old show was watching the Rangers fight Putties and the Monster-of-the-Week as the Rangers in their suits before calling in the Zords to finish the fight off.
Also, the special effects looked somewhat lacking especially for a $100 million production budget. I wasn’t expecting Transformers level special effects but I was hoping for something a little more than we got.
And a note on that budget and the box office – Power Rangers pulled in $40 million at the domestic box office its opening weekend which may seem like not enough to green light a sequel but remember, it did open only one week after the behemoth that is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I really hope that Power Rangers brings in enough cash over its entire run to warrant a sequel or two. A Power Rangers reboot just isn’t complete without some Tommy Oliver Dragonzord action that you can all but guarantee will be in the first sequel.
All in all, Power Rangers is a fun time at the movies – just enough camp and nostalgia to bring in the sweaty’s like me and hopefully enough of a summer blockbuster feel to draw in new fans. I definitely hope we get at least one of the myriad of sequels that they are planning.